Tag Archive for: Energy

For many of us, energy bills have doubled over the last month and there’s no getting around the fact that the kitchen is one area in the home where energy use is unavoidable. There are state of the art low-energy cooking appliances on the market but there are some simple things we can do to maximise efficiency, reduce waste, and, of course, save money.

Here are some top tips for energy-efficient cooking:

  • The microwave is generally the most efficient way to heat up and cook food (because it’s small and the heat is more focused, thus quicker). Opt for this appliance whenever possible.
  • Use the kettle to boil water quickly and transfer to a pan on the hob for steaming and boiling vegetables or pasta.
  • When boil anything in a pan, only use as much water as is needed to cover the amount of food you’re cooking – one of the most common forms of energy wastage is the energy it takes to boil water you don’t need.
  • Cook as much as possible in the oven in one go to make sure all the space and heat is being used.
  • Keep the oven door closed while you’re cooking. Each time you open the door, the oven loses heat (sometimes as much as 25 degrees) and requires more energy to get back up to temperature.
  • Defrosting food in advance not only typically halves the cooking time but also means that you don’t need to use the energy of a microwave to defrost more quickly.
  • Use glass or ceramic dishes in the oven. They retain heat better than their metal counterparts, making them the most efficient to use in the oven.
  • A fan-assisted or convection oven uses fans to circulate heat around the food as it cooks, making it a more energy-efficient way of cooking because it means the heat doesn’t have to be as high as it would in a conventional oven.
  • When using an electric oven, turn it off ten minutes before the food’s finished cooking. The oven temperature will remain the same so the food will still cook through to completion without the oven using energy.
  • Keep heating rings on an electric hob as clean as possible – any food that sticks to the ring will absorb heat, making it less efficient.

Mostly it’s about being more mindful when cooking and developing good kitchen habits. For some more common-sense cooking tips, visit uSwitch and for detailed info on energy use and spend, a smart meter will tell you how much your appliances cost in pounds and pence accurate to your tariff and the current price of energy, thereby enabling you to monitor which appliance is costing you the most so you can minimise your use of it.

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

A new report by British Gas has revealed that UK homeowners could save an average of £147 per year if certain appliances were turned off standby.

As we head into a recession, many of us are finding ways to cut costs, especially energy costs. Even with the Truss energy bill bailout, severe increases are expected and yet, according to research, almost one in five (16%) Brits are unaware that many household appliances use up electricity.

Only 44% of respondents occasionally switch appliances off, and over one in three (35%) said they wish they’d known devices were costing them money whilst on standby.

Every device that remains plugged in continues to draw power from the mains, adding to your energy bill. Have a look at the below list of devices and how much they cost to keep on standby per year:

  • Television – £24.61
  • Set top box/satellite – £23.10
  • Modem/internet router – £18.89
  • Microwave – £16.37
  • Games Console – £12.17
  • Computer – £11.22
  • Shower – £9.80
  • Smart speakers/smart home devices – £8.94
  • Dishwasher – £6.86
  • Tumble dryer – £4.79
  • Washing machine – £4.73
  • Printer – £3.81
  • Mobile device charger – £1.26

Top tip: switch them off.

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

With the cost-of-living crisis in full swing and (further) energy price hikes set for October 2022, most of us will be considering ways to save money and cut costs in bills and spending. The instillation of a smart meter in your home may help you do just that.

What is a smart meter?

A smart meter measures how much gas and electricity you use in your home. It uses advanced technology to give you real-time updates with increased accuracy, and when installed, will replace your old energy meter.

SMETS1 is the name for the first generation of smart meters and SMETS2 refers to the second, most recent, generation of the technology.

What are the advantages?

  • Increased accuracy – the smart meter clocks exactly how much energy you use, and where you’re using it.
  • No more estimated bills – your monthly payments will be precise, rather than an estimate made on assumed usage.
  • No more monthly meter readings – your electricity provider receives accurate meter readings straight from your smart meter.
  • Money saving – smart meters are a tool that you can use to facilitate changed behaviour and different habits. If, for example, you notice that your bills increase when you use certain appliances, you can make adjustments.
  • Helps the environment – if you do make changes to lessen your energy consumption, this will reduce your carbon footprint, which will have a positive impact on the environment.
  • Free installation.
  • Access to better energy deals – many suppliers favour smart meters and offer exclusive tariffs to homes with smart meters.

What are the disadvantages?

  • Reducing bills requires action – smart meters will not reduce bills alone; it is simply a tool. You must: a) pay attention to your smart meter readings, and b) make adjustments to the way you consume energy, to save money.
  • Tech fallibility – as with most tech, smart meters are not immune to glitches. If your smart meter ceases to work, readings will simply revert to your original meter. This can be annoying (and extra admin) but not the end of the world.

The government has been on a mission since 2020, to offer each household across the country a smart meter in an effort to cut their energy bills and carbon emissions. Individuals are, however, under no obligation to accept a smart meter. To find out more about smart meters, visit simpleenergyadvice.org.uk.

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

The Government’s decision to extend its Green Homes Grant scheme for an extra year, up until March 2022, gives home owners extra time to apply for financial assistance for any energy-efficient improvements in their homes.

According to the scheme, the Government will provide a voucher of up to £5,000 that covers up to two-thirds of the cost of at least one primary home insulation or low carbon heating measure. If you choose to install at least one of the primary measures, you can use your voucher to help cover the cost of secondary measures, too.

The grant for the secondary measure is capped at the value of the grant provided for the primary measures. For example, if you receive a £500 voucher for a primary measure such as a cavity wall insulation, you will be able to receive a maximum of £500 for a secondary measure such as an energy efficient replacement door.

What are the primary and secondary measures acceptable under the guidelines of the scheme?

Primary measures: This can be an insulation measure and/or a low carbon heating measure.

Insulation measures:

  • solid wall
  • under floor
  • cavity wall
  • loft
  • flat or pitched roof
  • room in roof
  • insulating a park home

Low carbon heat measures:

  • air source, ground source or hybrid heat pump
  • solar thermal
  • biomass boilers

Secondary measures
 

  • draught proofing
  • double/triple glazing (where replacing single glazed windows)
  • secondary glazing (in addition to single glazing)
  • external energy efficient doors (replacing single glazed or solid doors installed before 2002)
  • heating controls
  • hot water tank thermostats and insulation

As part of what’s been hailed a “Green Industrial Revolution”, the government aims to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028, and there are also plans to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade – all as part of a bigger initiative to decarbonise heat in homes across the country to meet the ‘net-zero carbon’ goal by 2050.

If you’d like to take advantage of the Green Homes Grant, visit Greenhomesgrant.campaign.gov.uk to apply, and for more information.

And feel free to contact the team at AACooper on 01689 485007 or info@aacooper.co.uk – we’re always happy to help.

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”