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MAD Blog Awards 2011

Posts Tagged ‘Energy Saving Week’

Here at Easy Green Towers we frequently get asked to try new gadgets that claim to save money and the environment. Quite often we aren’t convinced and politely decline. However, when the AlertMe Smart Energy Monitor landed on our desk we were intrigued and wanted to give it a go.

The AlertMe is an energy monitor with a difference. Instead of just connecting to your electricity supply, it also connects to your computer so it can record all sorts of facts and figures about your electricity usage and you can access this from any computer or smart phone.

Setting up the AlertMe was really easy. There are three main pieces of kit, a meter transmitter, a hub that plugs into your computer modem and an In Home Display which shows you how much electricity you are using, how much you have used and the temperature. No electricians are needed and it took me 5 minutes to set up. The computer then cleverly finds all the bits you have connected and you are good to go. The only tricky part was working out the cost of electricity per kilowatt hour (kWh). I pay one rate for the first 250 kW hours and another for any others used after that. I ended up looking at a years worth of bills and working out the average cost per kW hour over the last year.

Once the system was set up the kids and I raced around the house turning everything on and off to see the effect that it had on the In Home Display. The display shows energy use as bars that increase in number and change colour as usage goes up. It also shows how much you are currently using as pence or kW and how much you have used that day. I thought I was already quite conservative in my electricity use, but having the numbers clearly displayed really makes you think about switching the lights on, or boiling a full kettle. The kids, who are only young, got the concept immediately and have been much better at turning off lights since we have been using the AlertMe system. The on-line historical data is fascinating and is going to be the subject of another blog post to do it justice. If you want to see what it looks like click here to see a demo.

The big question is have I reduced my electricity costs? At the moment I can’t say yes or no because I have only been using the meter for a month and I haven’t had an electricity bill yet. However, I can categorically say it really does make the whole family think about the electricity we use and that has got to be a good thing.

The lovely people at Alert Me have given us an Alert Me Smart Energy kit worth £49.99 to give away. Details of how you can win*, will be coming soon on our competition page, so do keep your eyes peeled.

Don’t forget, for up to date details on this competition and more, sign up to our newsletter (sign up box in top left hand corner of this page)

*Commences 1st November, ends 30 November 2011.

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Tips to save energy and water in the home

Would you believe, according to the Energy Saving Trust, on average each person in the UK uses 150 litres of water per day – even more shockingly, much of this is wasted?

Why is this so? Well, one reason could be that because we live in such a rain-soaked country many people do not appreciate that water is one of the biggest energy users in our home. Heating and using hot water is accountable for up 30% of an average home’s annual energy bill, approximately £200 per year! (EST, 2011)

So how can we easily reduce our water consumption, without drastically changing our lifestyle?

Well, as I’ve already covered in my article for At Home, choosing energy-efficient washing machines and detergents is a great way to reduce our need.

Another simple solution is to choose the shower over the bath.

As you will already know from reading my post Energy Saving Week – Easy Ways to Save Energy this Winter – you can save up to 80% of energy by choosing the shower, as a 5 minutes shower uses a third of the water of a bath.

water saving gadget - showerdrop

However, a word of warning, modern power showers can use more water than a bath in less than 5 minutes, so to keep your costs down, you need to keep an eye on your showering time. To help you, how about this handy gadget, the Eco Showerdrop shower meter.

Alternatively, you could invest in an energy-saving bath appliance, like Ecocamel’s new shower head, JetStorm.

The JetStorm is stylish shower head which uses patented inJet valve technology (the very latest in water saving technology) to provide the same powerful shower experience as a full flow shower, but using significantly less water.

water saving gadget - JetStorm shower head

Developed by UK firm Ecocamel, JetStorm’s Twin Injet technology works by mixing air into the water stream, via a small inlet at the base of handle, at high speed to maximize the pressure while saving water.

The result, an invigorating spa shower sensation using less water, less energy, which is better for your pocket and environment.

According to Ecocamel, the JetStorm showerhead allows you to:

· Cut hot water bills by 40%

· Significantly reduce the water you use in the shower
(a typical family of four can save up to 56,000 litres a year*)

· Cut energy use and carbon emissions

· Provide payback periods of just 3 months (with annual savings calculated to be £240 a year)

* Test results based on a family of four taking a daily seven-minute shower (Independent testing conducted at Liverpool John Moores University)

Through testing one myself, I can honestly vouch that the JetStorm certainly packs a punch in water delivery department and whilst I can’t yet confirm what saving I have made on my energy bills, any product that can positively influence my energy consumption is definitely worth giving serious consideration to.

So, to give you an opportunity to put the JetStorm through it’s paces in your home, Ecocamel are offering Queen of Easy Green readers an exclusive discount of 25% on each purchase. Normally costing £49.95, with the discount the cost of the JetStorm is £37.46, which means it pays for itself in just two months!

But hurry, the discount code is only available for one month. To claim your discount, head over to www.ecocamel.com and enter the code EC12 in ‘discount coupon’.

So next time you head for the bath, why not choose the shower, with the energy, time and money you’ll save you can afford to splash out on something special for yourself instead.

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Love it or hate it, laundry is a task that us busy parents have to face on a daily basis. As well as being time-consuming, it is also energy-zapping, costly on our bills and the environment. But maybe, it doesn’t have to be this way?

For my At Home column this week, I have been looking at how we can reduce our washing and workload when it comes to laundry, as well as saving money and being kinder to the environment.

To find out what my top ten energy and money saving tips are, hop over to the article here and take a look. Oh and a message to my mum, really, you don’t have to do that anymore :))

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Our homes are full of gadgets, games, chargers, white goods and a growing number of televisions. This, coupled with our reliance on central heating, means we’re guzzling more gas and electricity than ever before.

In fact, we own three-and-a-half times as many appliances and gadgets than we did 20 years ago, according to the Energy Saving Trust’s report “The Elephant in the Living Room”.

The enormous rise in domestic consumption over the past decade, teamed with rocketing fuel costs, add up to financial misery for hard-pressed householders.

We’re now spending far more of our income on utility bills and as the Government tries to tackle the suppliers’ confusing pricing structures, we’re left with one realistic solution: cut back.

There are lots of easy and inexpensive ways to reduce the amount of energy we use. All it takes is time, thought and a bit of effort.

Just like the old adage, “Save the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”, saving a few kilowatts and units here and there could significantly reduce your quarterly bill.

There is a mountain of information on this subject and it can be overwhelming, although DIY store Wickes has created a very useful visual aid.

Wickes Energy Savings Tips

As you can see, the new energy saving infographic is really easy to follow and features a room-by-room guide with energy-saving tips.

Building on this and to help you even further, I have put together my favourite, easy green tips which are simple to implement and could save you hundreds of pounds on your fuel bills.

Energy Saving – Around the Home in Eight E-tips (do you like what I did there?)

Kitchen

The heart of the home, but also the room in the house where most energy is wasted. To get you started on your energy-saving quest, why not try these:

1. Easy does it – Only filling the kettle up with as much water as you need could save around £7 in energy bills a year If everyone boiled only the water they needed every time they used the kettle, we could save enough electricity in a year to power the UK’s street lights for 2 months. This is equivalent to the electricity used by around 130000 households for a year.

2. A+++ please - When using you washing machine, always wash a full load. Also, when replacing your old washing machine, choose a A+++ model, this could save you around £15 in energy bills each year and 55 kg of CO2 each year. (*when replacing a model 12 years and over). To ensure you are buying the most energy efficient product,which will cost less to run, reduce your energy bills and be better for the environment, always look for the Energy Saving Trust Recommended label. To see how I have got on with Samsung’s newest energy saving washing machine, the Ecobubble, check out my latest column for At Home magazine here.

3. The Big freeze – Fridge freezers are the most hardworking appliances in our kitchens – in fact, UK households use around £2 billion worth of electricity on refrigeration and freezing every year. To help cut costs, don’t leave the door open longer than necessary, as cold air will escape. Avoid putting hot food into the fridge, defrost the freezer regularly and check the door seals are working properly. Also, avoid unnecessary food waste by freezing food that is nearing it’s use by date – for example raw meat, fresh vegetables, even milk. That way your freezer continues to run at maximum efficiency and you will always have a ingredients to hand.

Lounge

4. Standby – you? - We are all guilty of leaving appliances on, especially TV’s and DVD’s, in fact according to a survey by B&Q  31% of people admitted to leaving their TV on standby when they were not watching it.

However, by turning appliances off at the plug when not in use and avoiding standby saves on average around £35 per year on energy bills and 120 kg carbon dioxide.

In fact, according to the Energy Saving Trust, if every UK household turned their appliances off when not in use, collectively we could save £530 million every year and as much carbon dioxide as would be saved by taking 660000 cars off the UK’s roads.

Bedroom

5. Be drawn on the issue – A super -simple way to keep the warmth in your home and one all of the family can do, is to close your curtains at dusk. This will minimise the amount of heat escaping through the windows and don’t forget to do it even in rooms you’re not using.

Bathroom

6. The power of showers – Swapping from the bath to showers is a very easy way to reduce energy use, save money and cut CO2 emissions. As water requires lots of energy to heat it up, by switching to a shower you can save up to 80% of the energy you’d need per bath. To make an even bigger saving, why not switch to an energy-efficient shower head, like the Ecocamel Jetstorm, – to find out more, check out my review here .

Loft and Walls

7. A snug fit – Surprisingly, many people in the UK do not have their loft insulated, despite the fact that it is a relatively simple DIY job AND it can reduce your energy bills by as much as £175 per year*.

With no insulation, the average home loses up to 26% of its heat through it’s roof, which means about 15% of what you are paying for your heating could be escaping through your roof.

To find out more about insulating your home and how you could save money, check out this simple guide from the Energy Saving Trust. In addition, to find out how easy loft insulation is to install, check out this step by step guide.

*Based on an un-insulated loft being insulated to a depth of 270mm

Hallway

8. Easy de-breezy - Draught proofing is possibly one of the simplest and inexpensive DIY measures that could save you money, around £30 per year, that’s 120kgCO2 per annum.

Fitting draught excluders around the door, over the letter box and key hole is an easy way to retain heat in your home. Don’t forget door curtains too, maybe a little old-fashioned of late, but these are perfect for keeping your hallway and home cosy.

So, now you’ve seen how easy and inexpensive it can be to reduce your energy bills, why not take a little trip around your home and see what energy-saving measures you can install.

Don’t forget, all of this week I will be sharing more of my easy green energy saving tips, advice, product reviews and news, so if you want to save money and live a little greener stay tuned.

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All calculations, unless otherwise stated, courtesy of Energy Saving Trust – all statistics are correct as of September 2011
Insulation, Heating and Behavioural Savings Caveat – Based on a typical three bed semi-detached gas heated house, with an average gas price of 4.49p/kWh and electricity price of 14.39p/kWh; correct as of September 2011 and is valid for 2011/12.
Appliances, Domestic Computer, Consumer Electronics and Lighting Saving Caveat – Based on average electricity price of 14.39p/kWh; correct as of September 2011 and is valid for 2011/12.

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Did you know that the average home loses up to 26 per cent of its heat through an un-insulated roof? A properly insulated loft prevents the heat from escaping and can reduce energy bills by as much as £175 per year*, whilst instantly boosting a property’s green credentials. Installing your own loft insulation is one popular job which can be completed in a day, no matter how amateur your DIY skills.

Here, energy saving advice website thinkinsulation.com proves just how simple it is to install loft insulation with a five-step plan.

1. Prepare – Before you start, work out how much insulation you’re going to need by measuring the loft space and the required depth by putting a ruler or tape measure down the side of the joists. Make sure you take into account any existing insulation. The government recommends installing insulation to a minimum depth of 270mm to ensure optimal performance. Don’t forget to measure the size of loft hatch, check that the loft is properly ventilated and consider pipes and wires within the space to ensure there are no potential dangers.

2. Dress for the job and make sure you have all the tools – As lofts can be dusty places before you begin it is best to cover your skin by wearing long sleeve clothing, gloves and a mask. Ensure you have the correct tools to hand – you’ll need a flat wooden board that you can lay across the joists and kneel on when laying insulation. Don’t forget to make sure you have a sharp utensil such as a large bladed knife available to cut the insulation blanket or loft roll to size if required.

3. Start Insulating – Now you’re ready to begin insulating! Start at the corner furthest away from the loft hatch ensuring that the wall plate is covered and work towards the centre of the loft. Tuck the ends of the roll into the eaves but don’t completely block them. You will need to lay a base layer to a depth of 100mm between the joists and leave an air gap of at least 5cm at the eaves (between the insulation and the roof felt) to ensure that there is sufficient airflow across the loft space to prevent condensation forming.

4. Layer Up – Once you’ve laid the initial layer of insulation (100mm), you’ll need to lay an additional layer (170mm) to give a total depth of at least 270mm. This second layer should be laid at right angles at the joists – this is called ‘cross layering’ and really makes a difference to the overall thermal performance. At this stage take extra care, working across the loft, it’s also important to remember that you will be covering joists, so be careful not to lose your footing as you go!

5. Review your work – Once the insulation is laid stand back and critique your job. Make sure that electric cables are lifted up and placed on top of the insulation and that recessed lights have a minimum 75mm clear airspace all around them to prevent them from overheating. If you have a water tank in the loft make sure that there isn’t any insulation underneath it – instead wrap around an insulated tank jacket around it.

*Based on an un-insulated loft being insulated to a depth of 270mm

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