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Why aren’t homeowners more excited about smart meters? – According to a new YouGov survey, only a third of respondents have opted to use one in spite of the government committing for all UK homes to have a smart meter by 2020. So, why the reticence?

Smart meters are advertised as cost effective but of the survey respondents who have a smart meter, only seven per cent reported a reduction in their energy bills after installing the system. And in fact, only 23 per cent opted for a smart meter because they thought it would reduce their energy bills.

Another interesting little stat: one in 11 of respondents reported an increase in their bills, according to the survey findings.

Perhaps people aren’t buying into the whole money saving thing?

But it’s not just that…

According to YouGov’s survey, 30 per cent of respondents highlighted the potential of cyber attacks as discouraging them from installing a smart meter.

Luke Osborne, energy advisor with the Electrical Contractors’ Association (which commissioned the survey), says that the government “must do more to explain to the public why smart meters do not present a security risk from hacking or other data breaches.”

There seems to be some misconception regarding smart meters, which has resulted in a lack of consumer confidence in the device. Before rejecting the idea, do your research and when in doubt, ask a pro!

For all your energy-related needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

(And in case you’re not quite sure what a smart meter is or does: it’s a gas or electricity meter that works by sending meter readings to us via a SIM card in the meter, just like a mobile phone. With your smart readings your bills will be more accurate as you’ll only be charged for the energy you’ve used.)

Source: hvnplus.co.uk – “UK smart meter survey critical of ‘money saving’ message”

Does your heating system need to be in the (proverbial) skip before you’re likely to even hazard thinking about a new one? In fact – yes! This is likely the truth.

The latest Public Attitude Tracker (PAT) from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, focusing on energy issues, revealed that 66 per cent of the public would only replace their heating system when their current one breaks down or starts to deteriorate.

Only 12 per cent of respondents would consider replacing their heating system while it was still working.

The PAT also found that the top reasons people are most likely to change their heating system is to save bills (43 per cent) or to switch to a more environmentally friendly heating system (33 per cent). Nearly a fifth of respondents (18per cent) paid significant attention to the amount of heat used in their home in December 2018, with the main reasons being minimising bills.

So, do we deserve a right ol’ telling off for being lackadaisical about our boilers? Well…is anyone really likely to replace an entire system that is in good working order? Not likely. And why should they? That said; it seems risky to only replace a system once it’s already broken. And at the crux of the issue; how would the layman know that his system is faulty anyway – unless told by a professional heating engineer?

As it turns out, PAT statistics showed genuine trust in advice from heating installers with 79 per cent of respondents citing heating engineers/installers as the most helpful source of information when choosing a new heating system, alongside family and friends.

The moral of the story: find a heating engineer that you can trust and listen to him when he advises repairs or even an entire system overhaul.

For all your energy-related needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Source: hpvmak.co.uk – “66% WOULD ONLY REPLACE BOILER WHEN IT FAILS, ACCORDING TO BEIS”

Consumer champion Which? has revealed the results of its annual satisfaction survey, and small gas and electricity firms have trumped the Big Six!

After surveying 8,000 energy customers, 30 companies (covering more than 90 per cent of that market in England, Scotland and Wales) have been ranking according to customer satisfaction. The Big Six (British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE) all sit in the bottom third of the table whilst smaller, newer suppliers occupy both the top and bottom positions, showing that a company’s size is no guarantee of its performance.

Five small suppliers topped the rankings, with only tiny margins separating the top five companies: first-placed Octopus Energy, Robin Hood Energy and So Energy in joint second place, and Ebico and Tonik Energy in joint fourth position. All of these firms were rated the full five stars for value for money. Plus among them are the only firms to get top marks for bill accuracy, bill clarity and online customer service.

Octopus, which supplies more than 400,000 homes, was rated as good or excellent value for money by nine in 10 customers and 96 per cent of its customers gave it the same rating for online customer service.

So Energy was rated good or excellent value for money by an impressive 93 per cent of its customers – the highest proportion of any firm included. Plus its customers were most likely to rate the accuracy of its bills good or excellent compared with any other firm included.

Two of the top five – Robin Hood Energy and Ebico – are not-for-profit, while So Energy and Tonik Energy sell only tariffs backed by 100 per cent renewable electricity.

Check out a full list of the top 10:

1. Octopus Energy
2. Robin Hood Energy
3. So Energy
4. Ebico
5. Tonic Energy
6. Ovo Energy
7. Utility Warehouse
8. Bristol Energy
9. Bulb Energy
10. Ecotricity

The Big Six ranked as follows: SSE(22), EDF/Eon(23), British Gas(26), Npower/Scottish Power(27). Which? found less than one in five (18 per cent) Big Six customers are very satisfied with their supplier, compared with a third (33 per cent) of customers with medium and small suppliers.

For the full results, including how customers rank their energy supplier’s customer service, value for money, bills, complaints handling and more, go to: www.which.co.uk/energy-table

For all your energy-related needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Have you ever compared your gas/electricity bill with that of friends or family members – and wondered why you pay so much more or, if you’re lucky, a whole lot less? It could be that your tariff is simply more costly, or conversely – really reasonable. The size of your property and the number of people in it are also factors to consider. And then, of course, how you use your appliances – whether you turn your light off when you leave a room or whether you’re happy to leave the light on.

In an article by Ovoenergy.com, household electricity use in the UK is an average of 3,940kWh per home. This is about 20 per cent higher than the global average for electrified homes of 3,370kWh. But when compared to other OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, electricity use in the UK isn’t that high – averaging closer to the European average of 3,600kWh. This is generally because UK homes are quite small, heating is primarily done with gas, and air conditioning is not widespread. American homes average 12,300kWh each year, in Canada it’s 11,000kWh, and in Australia it’s 7,000kWh.

To know where your home sits on the scale of average, have a look at the following stats (listed in ascending order):

Mid Terrace – 2,779 kWh
Flat – 2,829 kWh
End Terrace – 3,442 kWh
Semi Detached – 3,847 kWh
Bungalow – 3,866 kWh
Detached House – 4,153 kWh

(This data excludes electricity from space heating – which is more common in detached properties naturally – so it doesn’t distort our view of the data.)

You’ll be unsurprised to know that the peak load occurs between 6-7pm when cooking, lighting and audiovisual demands are all ramped up. And, bearing in mind that it’s winter and we’re all sure to be cranking the heat at some point, you’ll be pleased to learn that cold appliances (basically refrigeration) top the list of uses, followed by lighting, consumer electronics, cooking and wet appliances (washing mostly). Check out the average end use of electricity in UK homes/year (in ascending order):

Computing – 240 kWh
Water heating – 280 kWh
Other – 528 kWh
Wet appliances – 536 kWh
Cooking – 544 kWh
Consumer Electronics – 567 kWh
Lighting – 607 kWh
Cold appliances – 638 kWh

These averages may help you gauge where you are with your own electricity use, and help you decide whether you need to turn off the lights or change provider!

For all your energy-related needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Source: Ovoenergy.com – “How much electricity does a home use”

Keeping cool in sweltering heat might be as simple as turning on the air conditioning but it’s worth remembering that cranking up the AC to arctic temperatures is going to eat into your electricity bill. Also, we live in England – put your hand up if you have air con in your house…hmmm, not many of you (go figure). That said, our great British summers can be truly hot and it’s awful trying so sleep or relax in the furnace of a boiling house. The good news is that there are things that you can do to keep your home cool (before switching on the air con if you have it):

  • Shut windows and pull down the blinds/close the curtains first thing in the morning before it starts to get hotter outside. Open them for ventilation when it is getting cooler during the evening but only if the temperature outside is cooler than inside.
  • Turn off electronics. Computers, TVs and other electronics generate heat when sitting idle or even when turned off , so unplug devices at the wall when not in use.
  • Don’t run appliances (like dishwashers or washing machines) during the day; save these activities for the night.
  • Turn a hot water bottle into an ice pack by filling it with water and putting it in the freezer.
  • Cotton and linen sheets are breathable so cooler to sleep on/in.
  • Turn the lights off – light bulbs (even if they’re environmentally friendly) give off heat, so switch them off (who needs ‘em in summer anyway, when the days are lovely and long).
  • Hanging a wet sheet in front of an open window will help bring down the room’s temperature.
  • Have shade in your garden; in the form of trees and shrubs or perhaps a shady swing, garden umbrella or porch cover.
  • If you’re having a shower to rid yourself of sticky, sweat-soaked skin; keep it on cool because steam hangs about and makes a room hotter.
  • Fans use much less energy than AC – just remember to turn the fan off when you exit the room, as its effect is pointless if you’re not there to feel it.

For all your energy-related needs, contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Sources: Mirror.co.uk – “Ways to keep your home and room cool in a heatwave so you can relax and fall asleep easily”; 1millionwomen.com – “How To Keep Your House Cool During A Heatwave”

Thinking of starting a home-based business? Here are a couple of things you might like to
consider before you take the plunge:

  • Are you suited to working from home – are you self-motivated, disciplined,
    independent and can you be accountable to both yourself and your clients and
    customers?
  • Are your goals realistic – it takes time and dedication to create a successful business?
  • Have you worked out your finances – how much money you need to start up and what
    you need to earn to make things work?

If you’re secure in your answers to the aforementioned questions you’ll need to do two
things: define your business identity and set up your work space.

A business identity requires a name and logo, a website (even if you, yourself are the
business) and a clear sense of purpose.

And then your work space…for a homeowner, moving work into an everyday living space is a
big deal and has to be thought about quite carefully. Primarily, you’ll need a comfortable
place to work that is away from distractions, helping with focus and productivity. These
things will all depend on what type work you’re doing – photographers or dentists and
chiropractors will require a whole different home context from a writer or a designer.

Other than the nature of the space you’ll need to make your business succeed in the home
environment, you’ll need to reflect on the prospective energy requirements of your work and
whether you r home has the infrastructure to support the technological needs of your business
(speedy wi-fi, for example). From there, you can think about clever ways to cut costs; like
energy saving bulbs, tuning off appliances at the sockets etc.

Working from home is a wonderful thing; it’s challenging and not without its own unique
stresses but if you’ve done your research and planned accordingly, you’re off to a great start!

For more advice on energy usage or home refurbishments, contact the team at AACooper
01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk.

Source: bbc.co.uk – “Setting up your own home business”

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.