A Tale of 2 Energy Projects

Together with friend and colleague David I have been working to reduce our household energy consumption(s).

This has taken a while and we’ve learned a great deal along the way. It’s a work in progress as some of the things we now need to do require some capital expenditure and we’ll do that one step at a time.

With 87% of households still paying more than they need to, switching suppliers is the first place to start saving money (if you haven’t already done so) and if you choose carefully is usually painless. But the most effective strategy is to pay attention to the energy you use, and on what, and then make changes that can save you almost as much again as switching suppliers.

Here’s a comparative overview of the two projects:

David Paul
Overall objective Save money (save energy, reduce emissions the happy by product, motivation financial Save money (save energy, reduce emissions the happy by product, motivation financial
General approach “low tech‚” – Owl meter, true watt meter, meter readings, spreadsheet. Link from meters to PC would be nice but not available at realistic cost “gadgets r us” – don’t do stuff by hand if you can put a gadget to work for you
Home situation Suburban, Terrace circa 1970, 30 year old heat only boiler Suburban, detatched circa 1970, 4 year old boiler
Location Outer London Outer London
Residents 3, now 2.5 (daughter at uni) 4
Insulation Double glazed tp SW weather side, single to NE cold side, Mineral wool cavity wall insulation (recent), 50mm high performance flat roof insulation Double glazed, Foam wall insulation, Standard depth loft insulation
Surprises UPS for computer consuming when computer off. Fridge Freezer running to ocold and costing £80-90/year Underfloor heating, Boiler controls
Electricity savings Est 18% reduction by tuning fridge/freezer, switching PC off more often, daughter away at Uni (lights off earlier, less dishwashing and washing)! 30% reduction, mainly by applying a difference policy to heating “conservatory”
Gas savings Est 24% reduction by switching heating on only when needed, draught proofing and insulating integral garage door and glaze front door, daughter away at Uni (fewer baths!) 25% reduction by continuous tweaking of heating controls
Overall result 23% reduction – savings of £260 on top of £470 by switching 27% reduction ‚- savings of almost £1,000 per annum
Next project(s) New fridge freezer (on order), possibly new boiler +modern controls,, double glazing to rest of house, new energy saving UPS for computer Automate heating controls; re-insulate loft
More detail at To follow; I suggest my unis and cost graphs, showing the change) previous post on this blog

The main conclusion from this exercise is that a great deal of savings can be made with almost no change in lifestyle. Just paying the standing orders with eyes closed is an expensive and frankly careless way to live. Switching suppliers can save you some money but the most effective strategy is to pay attention to the energy you use. For those who like gadgets you can get some additional savings and save time on measurements. If you are not that way inclined you can still achieve comparable results.

But, and I cannot emphasise this enough: energy saving starts with your own motivation to save money and investing a little time to enjoy the benefits – money saved, fuel saved and your share of reducing carbon

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