Monday, 9 May 2011

Simple Energy Saving at home

I was very pleased that Julian Worricker read out my email in full on Radio 4's "You & Yours" programme today.  You can Listen Again on iPlayer here, until Monday 16 May - around 46 minutes in.  Here's what I sent into the programme:

"It's worth all the effort to insulate, switch off and replace inefficient bulbs and appliances.  I have managed to cut my family's home electricity use in half, and our gas consumption by a third, since 2006.  The cost of insulation, light bulbs and an A+ refrigerator were quickly paid back and my energy bills are a third lower now than they were in 2006."

Of course, I couldn't provide the evidence behind this on the programme, so I will do this here.  I was also struck by Julian's response: he said, "That's very positive from his point of view but we don't all have the time to do that".  Accepting this viewpoint, the challenge is to make it so easy for people to use energy wisely in their homes that they find it only natural to cut waste and save money on their bills.

In 2006, our home used 30,400 kWh of energy: 21,200 units of gas and 9,200 of electricity.  This cost almost £1500.  Since then I have invested in great tranches of loft insulation, all shapes and sizes of energy-saving light bulbs, a condensing boiler, a solar thermal panel (the boiler has been off for weeks now), an efficient larder fridge and the 8 watt Fit-PC computer (strictly a net-top) that I am writing this blog on now.  We have also pulled together as a family to change our behaviour, switching everything off at the mains when not needed, keeping the thermostat down low in the winter and generally striving to avoid wasting energy.

2010 was an unusual year, starting and ending with prolonged spells of extreme cold.  As a result, our 2010 energy use was greater than expected.  However, 2011 has been unseasonably warm so far and our energy consumption since January has been 20% lower than the same period last year.  In the past 12 months, we have used a total of 17,200 kWh at home: 12,800 units of gas and 4,400 kWh of electricity.  This graph shows our annual energy costs, for gas and electricity, over the past five years.  I've also included my estimate for 2011 and we are on track to spend just £1000 on home energy this year:

The point of all this data is to make clear the savings to be had by using energy wisely.  If my family's power consumption had remained at 2006 levels, we would now be paying over £1,700 a year for our gas and electricity.  On the news today, Centrica warned that forward gas prices for next winter are 25% higher than they were at this time last year.  This makes it apparent that everyone's energy bills will rise - unless they act to reduce their usage!  The investments needed are one-off costs but the payback comes ever after - in my case,  a saving of £60 a month on the cost of home energy.  The higher the price, the bigger the saving.  What's stopping you, Julian?

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