Now the days are starting to draw in and the nights are getting longer (and cooler) it's time to focus once more on energy consumption and, in particular, how to keep your electricity bills as low as possible.
Around this time last year the Evans family set themselves the challenge of halving their electricity bills over a six month period. In the process of doing this they spent quite a lot of time investigating where the energy was going, researching the best ways of reducing the consumption and implementing improvements. They found that there are a number of ways of reducing electricity consumption and bills, with some being more effective than others; some requiring more effort than others; and with varying amounts of capital outlay – from nothing (except behavioural changes) to quite a lot of money (e.g. solar PV).
Having investigated the subject, they thought it would be helpful to other families to summarise their top five tips. The tips themselves are simple, but the inspiration and further information to help you make changes are useful and we start with a few good old pieces of permaculture observation:
1. Behavioural changes – these are the key to energy saving and cost nothing but a bit of effort: switching off appliances once they have finished their task is good, not using them is even better. In our household, for example, we have no tumbler dryer; instead we dry our clothes outside, in the airing cupboard or on a 'clothes horse'.
2. Monitor your consumption – just being aware of how much electricity you are using acts as a deterrent to waste. We found the most useful bit of kit in our energy saving crusade was a Monitor. We invested in two of these, firstly, a Home Energy Monitor to monitor the consumption of the whole house (this has the benefit of highlighting any abnormal consumption e.g. if items have been left on and forgotten about) and secondly, a Monitoring Socket to monitor the consumption of individual items that consume a lot of electricity like a kettle.
3. Seek-out energy wasting devices – these could take the form of e.g. battery chargers left on constantly or other items e.g. DVD players on standby. Where possible also use something to make sure that these are switched off – this could be a count-down timer or a remote controlled switch.
4. Buy LED bulbs to replace the lights that you use the most – the modern LED lamps are brilliant – in both senses of the word – they use about 10% of the energy of old-fashioned bulbs and are just as bright. There is none of the warm-up time of the old energy-savers either and the lamps last longer.
5. Only buy an 'energy efficient' appliance if you really need it and also when your existing machine needs replacing – it isn't ecologically sound to throw away a good machine and the payback period (in energy savings) is likely to be decades.
Once we had finished our own energy saving crusade we set up our website www.eversogreen.co.uk to help share this information with others. The website has a number of free reports, including one on saving electricity and also provides a number of products to help in the hunt for waste, such as the Home Energy Monitor outlined above and the Monitoring Socket.
Competition: Win a Efergy Showertime
Want to get your energy saving off to a helpful start? Well, www.eversogreen.co.uk are giving you the chance to be one of five winners of an Efergy Showertime. Efergy are a UK manufacturer of high quality energy-saving products. The Showertime is an alarm that works on either how long you've been in the shower, or how much water has been used.
Whether you want to save water, energy and money or just to make sure that someone in your household doesn't hog the shower and use all of the hot water, then this device is the answer.
The simple to install and use device works in two modes either: 1) a simple time-based alarm that counts down from a pre-set time (minimum 3 minutes); or 2) an alarm based on reaching a pre-set volume of water used.
To use in water-volume mode then the device first has to be used to measure the rate that the water flows from the shower. To do this, the device comes with a bag to catch and measure the water flow and has a calibration mode to record the flow rate.
To win one of the Showertime units, simply answer this question.
To date, how many issues of Permaculture magazine have been published?
Please send your email entry to: firstname.lastname@example.org with WIN ShowerTime in the subject line. Closing date is Friday 28th September 2012.
If you like entering competitions that can save you money and help the planet then you MUST pick-up a copy of our new issue, Permaculture magazine issue 74 on sale 29th October 2012. That issue will have details of how you can win a year's worth of electricity for you and your home! Does that sound too good to be true? Well, all of the details will appear in that issue - make sure you pick-up a copy.
Pemaculture Readers' Offer - Saving Electricity & Money eBook
For those interested in more detail, we provide an in-depth look at Saving Electricity and Money in our eBook (PDF) of this name and are making this available to customers of Permaculture until the end of September for just £2 (normal cost £3.50). Just enter the Code PERMA2 at Checkout.
Permaculture's Top Five Energy Saving Articles Online
Finally, have some fun and search out some of the other DIY energy saving articles that have appeared on this site. Here are our TOP FIVE posts:
Feature: New carpet? Insulate first!
Feature: Keep warm in winter! How to weave a wollen underblanket