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Great Britain has reduced its carbon production faster than any other industrialised nation (woop!) and the UK’s emissions are below the goal (instituted by the Climate Change Act) for carbon budget 2, and 40 per cent below the 1990 levels. This is great but there is still loads more work required in order to reach the long-term goal of continuing to decrease emissions of the 6 greenhouse gas emissions regulated by the Kyoto accords, to 80 per cent of 1990 levels.

Currently, fifty per cent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the UK come from domestic heating and cooking, and from transport. That’s a lot, and is also why the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) is urging the government to work collaboratively with industry (those in the know) to green Great Britain by greening the gas grid – according to a recent report by HPM Magazine.

Mike Foster, CEO of EUA and also author of ‘The Future of Fuel’ report, which takes an in-depth look at how the UK can successfully decarbonise heat and hot water generation without radically changing the way 85 per cent of households heat their homes, said:

“Numerous studies have shown that switching to electricity is a more expensive option for the UK and it will struggle to meet demand in a cold snap.

Low carbon gas in our homes will be the cheapest, most secure, and most flexible source of energy we can deploy. The fact that it meets our international obligations too, should be something we welcome.”

Whilst this is all very good to know, you and I, as homeowners, don’t have much control over making changes to the national gas grid but there are things that we can do. Being green doesn’t require us to spend lots of money on fancy gadgets; in fact, an environmentally-responsible home can save you money (as well as the earth!). Check out these ideas that will turn your home into something more eco-friendly:

  • Use Compact Fluorescent Light (FFL) bulbs – saves 66 per cent energy.
  • Unplug your TV when it’s not in use (and any other device, for that matter).
  • Open your blinds/curtains to let the sun warm your house during the day – saves 10 per cent energy.
  • Use rugs on wooden floors – saves 4-6 per cent energy.
  • Turn down your thermostat by 1degree Celsius – saves up to £60/year.
  • Use your microwave– 50 per cent less energy is used by a microwave than conventional oven.
  • Energy-efficient cookware (glass, silicone, ceramic) can reduce cooking temperatures (and thus energy use).
  • Keep the oven closed when in use – opening the door causes the temperature to dropp, requiring more energy to heat up.
  • Smart dishwashing – don’t pre-rinse, run a full load and air-dry dishes.
  • Improve the air quality in your house with indoor plants.
  • Don’t leave the water running whilst brushing your teeth.
  • Turn taps off properly – 182 litres of water is lost per week from leaking taps.
  • Buy recycled toilet paper.
  • Use the shower more often than the bath – showers can use as little as 14 per cent of the water used during a bath.
  • Wash clothes at 30 degrees Celsius – this uses around 40 per cent less electricity than washing at higher temperatures.
  • Hang-dry your clothes instead of using a dryer – 2-3kg of carbon emissions are produced for every hour a dryer is used.
  • Install a low-flow shower head – this can save a family of four 160,000 litres of water/year.
  • Install a low-flow toilet.
  • Compost kitchen scraps – reduces the amount of household waste in landfills.
  • Insulate your windows – this will keep you cool in summer and warm in winter.

For more handy ways to ‘eco-friendly’ your house, read “50 Cost-Efficient Ways To Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly” and for all your energy-related needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Sources: hpmmag.com – “New report outlines sustainable roadmap for UK mains gas”, Britishgas.co.uk – “Green GB week is coming, are you ready?”

According to new figures by energy regulator Ofgem, 57 per cent of households are on their energy supplier’s standard variable tariff, meaning they’re overpaying by £300 a year – as reported by Telegraph.co.uk. This is not OK…but with a little bit of time and effort, money can be saved! Check out these top money-saving tips:

Compare the market – shop around for the best deal! Just because you’ve been with a certain provider for a long time, it doesn’t mean that you’re getting the best deal.

Invest in a smart thermostat – controlled by an app your phone, turning off the heating when you’re not home and switching it back on again just before you return could save you loads.

Energy-saving bulbs – LEDs use 90 per cent less energy than traditional bulbs and last for 25,000 hours on average, compared to just 1,000 hours for an old-style bulb. It’s a no-brainer.

Monitor your energy use – smart meters are great because they communicate directly with your energy supplier, meter readings are instantly sent digitally as you use it, which ensure more accurate energy bills.

Consider energy upgrades and installations – the government, keen to encourage energy-efficient upgrades, offers grants for boiler upgrades, insulation, solar panels, grounds source heat pumps and draught-proof windows and doors. CLICK HERE (https://www.gov.uk/energy-grants-calculator) for more information.

Choose energy-efficient white goods – look out for A, A+ or A++ energy ratings on fridges, TVs or washing machines before you buy.

These are just some simple ideas of how you can ensure that you are not overcharged on your electricity bill this year; for more handy tips, read “New year: How to cut your electricity bill” and “Is your home energy-efficient?”.

For more information on all your heating needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Even with the best of intentions, many of us leave our TVs, lights and computers on when we’re not using them…and it costs! But we probably knew that already. What we might not know is that even when our appliances are on standby (so not really off), they’re using energy and costing money.

The types of appliances that might operate on standby in our homes are a washing machine or dishwasher that is still on after the cycle, anything that has a display that is always on (like a microwave) and anything with a remote control.

But the appliances that suck the most energy are those that include a black box power supply, often called a ‘vampire’, between the appliance and the plug. The black box is responsible for converting AC electricity into DC electricity and the sensors and circuitry inside this box need to monitor what is happening with the device more or less constantly. This uses varying amounts of power, depending on what type of appliance it is, how old it is and the way it has been designed. The point, however: you pay for it.

Experts say that it’s not a single appliance left on standby that is a problem but rather the cumulative effect of many appliances left on. So, for example; a computer display in full use uses up 65 watts (68p per month) but still uses 12 watts when in sleep mode (10p per month). When off it uses 0.8 watts (1p per month). In and of itself, this is not a great amount but if you’re leaving, say, 50 appliances on standby; each one could add up to £3/year but altogether that’d make £150/year. This is a lot, especially when the cost can be avoided!

The solution: turn your appliances off at the plug.

In the UK, 15 per cent of domestic electricity is attributed to appliances on standby. Visit Draftlogioc.com for a list of the power consumption of typical household appliance, and for more energy-related information, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Source: Energysavingsecrets.co.uk – Does Having Appliances on Standby Use Power?

Whether you’re living in a new-build or a Victorian or Edwardian terrace, the key to saving on heating bills is being airtight – as reported by Patrick Collinson in an article for The Guardian. It’s all about keeping the heat in, which might involve stripping a house back to its brickwork if you’re not building from scratch.

Insulation – lots of insulation – is a must for keeping your home airtight, which might involve  heavyweight construction using lots of concrete (a material that helps to iron out hot and cold weather) if you’re planning a new build. The concrete will heat up from the sun and retain the heat for days. A well planned ventilation system will then distribute the heat throughout the house.

When it comes to an existing property, stripping back in an effort to force  a gap between the bricks and the insulation will allow condensation to form outside the envelope of the house rather than inside it. As well as insulating the roof and walls to keep heat in, triple glazing windows and doors is likely to knock some pounds of your energy bill.

Energy-saving initiatives can be costly and only produce savings in the long term but there are ‘quick fix’ solutions that can make a difference now. Here are some ideas:

  • Chimney balloons, which cost a mere £20 and apparently save as much as half a tone of CO2 a year per chimney, as well as providing at the minute insulation.
  • Switch off standby and save around £30 a year.
  • In the kitchen; use a bowl to wash up rather than a running tap and cut energy bills by £30 a year. Only fill the kettle with the amount of water you need and save around £7 a year. Cutback your washing machine use by just one cycle per week and save £5 a year on energy, and a further £8 a year on metered water bills.
  • Have quick showers; one minute less in the shower each day will save around £10 each year per person. With a water meter this could save a further £10 off annual water and sewage bills. If everyone in a four person family did this it would lead to a total saving of £80 a year.
  • Install an energy saving monitor. Theycost around £25 and show you how much power you are using and where your cash is going.
  • Low energy LED lightbulbs cost more than regular bulbs but save in the long run.

For more detail on how to cut down your energy bill, read “A three-bed house with £500 energy bills? How you too can slash your costs” at Theguardian.com.