1. Uncovering the most common energy saving myths

    Posted on October 15, 2019 by Andrew

    With climate change at the forefront of today’s issues, saving energy is more important than ever before. Whether we’re cutting down in order to save money, or to help the environment, we should all be making a conscious effort to reduce our energy expenditure. Here, we’re taking a look at some common energy saving myths, as well as the best methods for saving money on energy bills.

    1.    Fuel poverty

    For some of us, saving energy is crucial – especially if you suffer from fuel poverty. This is when a household spends more than 10% of its income on domestic energy use, defining them as a fuel poor household. Northern Powergrid, who can help with any new electric connection cost, has been a supporter of the fuel poverty charity, National Energy Action (NEA) for several years. The company’s head of stakeholder and customer engagement, Siobhan Barton, said: “Whilst we don’t sell electricity, as the company responsible for the power network which delivers electricity to 3.9 million homes and businesses across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, we do have a role to play in helping the industry tackle fuel poverty and encouraging energy efficiency.

    “We’ve reduced our network charges, which form part of domestic customers’ bills from their chosen electricity supplier, funded a Citizens Advice Bureau fuel debt advice service and helped kick-start a number of projects through our community energy seed fund.”

    2.    Myths surrounding energy use

    It’s important not to believe everything you hear regarding energy tips. A prime example is leaving your heating on all day is better than just turning it on high when you need it. According to the Energy Saving Trust, this is not the case. They confirm that, in the long run, just having your heating on when you need it will indeed save energy. The key focus here is knowing how much energy is actually required to heat your home. By leaving your heating on for the full day, you are bound to be using energy that you really don’t need to.

    In a similar fashion, some people still believe that leaving your lights on is better than turning them off and on again. Simply said, this isn’t true. Even if you leave the room for 10 minutes, make sure you get into the habit of turning the lights off behind you.

    It’s also believed in some quarters that electrical appliances don’t use any power when they are not in use. While technology is advancing, and energy-saving techniques are in place, some appliances draw energy even when they aren’t in use. A prime example is a phone charger. Did you know that leaving the socket switched on with a phone charger attached can cost you up to £80 each year?

    A rather bizarre claim is that you should put clingfilm on your windows to save energy. Even more surprising, perhaps, is that this one is actually true. Doing so can help you to keep your home warm, but it’s okay to use any material for the second layer of glazing so long as it’s airtight and transparent. Apply this technique and you can help to trap a small layer of air, which can prevent any heat from escaping. Of course, this should only ever be a short-term measure. If you need this second-layer, you should look into getting double glazing. By using this method to have a third layer, you may see a slight difference, but far less than if you had put it on a single glazed window.

    3.    How to save money on your energy bills

    Away from the myths, there are many tried and tested methods which you can rely on and are recognised across the board. Firstly, you should always be sure to shop around, especially if your energy contract is up for renewal. Simply staying with the same supplier as it’s ‘easier’ could see you spending hundreds of pounds more than you need to. There are many price comparison sites for you to benefit from, so make sure you log on and let them do all the hard work!

    While we’ve already quashed the myth that you should leave your heating on, did you know that by turning it down by just 1⁰C, you can cut up to 10% off your heating bill? On average, this could equate to a saving of approximately £75 each year.

    Elsewhere, tumble dryers are expensive to run, so try to air your washing whenever possible instead. If you do need to use a tumble dryer, make sure it’s full, as one full load uses less energy than two half-full loads. The same goes with loading your washing machine. Make sure you have a full machine and keep it to 30⁰C. Another simple energy-saving trick is to just boil the amount of water you need — especially if you are just making a cup of tea or coffee. While this won’t equate to huge savings, every little helps!

    Another handy tip is to spend a little to save a lot. If you are in the position to be able to invest money on insulation, upgrading your boiler, or even using renewable technologies, then you should do so. Sometimes you can benefit from a grant for these services, but even if not, you can often pay back what you’ve spent quite quickly and start to save money.

    4.    How to become more energy efficient

    Of course, while saving money is important, you should also be thinking about helping the environment. Britain is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 34% as early as next year. A key player in achieving this target would be by members of the public becoming energy efficient – both in the workplace and at home. Research has found that many power plants actually waste around two-thirds of the energy that goes into them. In our homes, we simply aren’t monitoring our energy use as closely as we should be, either.

    That is where a new app could aid you. In July 2018, Northern Powergrid revealed how it has collaborated with GenGame to trial a mobile game to demonstrate how gaming could incentivise households to reduce their electricity consumption at times of high demand. Players receive an alert telling them the game is starting encouraging them to consider turning off washing machines, televisions, lights and other home devices for short periods of time to earn points and stand a chance of winning cash prizes.

    For example, while pausing your washing machine may only be worth approximately 10p, if you include this in the game format, it gives players the chance to earn more money through prizes, which makes it a lot more interesting. Each month has hundreds of pounds worth of prizes available and each player reduces their electricity consumption by 11% on average.

    Andrew Webster, Northern Powergrid Innovation Project Manager, said: “Household electricity use will grow significantly as electric vehicles and heat pumps become mainstream, increasing demand on the network. Mobile games offer a fun solution to help manage this demand, rewarding our customers for reducing their consumption at peak periods.”

    There are, of course, many other tips and tricks that can help you to save money on your energy bills, reduce fuel poverty and help the environment, too. It’s also important to remember that if you are struggling to afford your gas and electric charges, your supplier should be able to help you come to a solution and negotiate a deal that helps both parties. Why not make sure you take on board some of the advice and do your part — both for your bank balance and the world you live in?

  2. Everything you need to know about renewable energy

    Posted on August 17, 2017 by Andrew

    Many people are sceptical about how effective alternative energies have been in the last few years. Despite having seen much more investment and attention than they had in the past, renewables still haven’t made any huge steps towards dominating the worldwide energy mix. The simple counter to this statement, is that this absolutely huge overhaul of industry and lifestyle is going to take time. We live in a world where money rules all, even if it means destroying our planet. This means that our journey towards a sustainable energy mix will take time, because it does not have the full support of those that prioritise profit margins. This article will summarise the current situation of the generation landscape and what you can do to be a part of the renewable revolution. Read more…

  3. Go Green: Invest On Solar Panels!!

    Posted on August 09, 2015 by Andrew

    The sun is the number one under-used renewable source of energy. It’s in the sky every morning when you wake up and it is a necessity for survival. More people are gearing towards being environmentally conscious and looking to make an active step towards making it better for our future children. But, with the technological advancements that are being made, why aren’t we taking advantage of this green energy? In this age of digital and electronic communications, we can use it to heat our homes, greenhouses, garages, schools, and provide electricity for our favorite electronics.

    Read more…

  4. If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

    Posted on March 22, 2015 by Andrew

    According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

    So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings

  5. Pedal Power to the Rescue

    Posted on March 22, 2015 by Andrew

    On Monday I became a bike commuter for the very first time, and I can’t say that I was perfectly prepared for it. First, I don’t have anything resembling a roadside repair kit to fix problems with tires or chains on my 10-mile trip to work. I also had never ridden the route I took to work Monday before actually taking it to work. Sue me. I discovered a far superior route option the day before my maiden bike commute and I had to take it. The photo at the top of this post was my original route. It’s also not a very bike-friendly road. Four lanes of traffic, about half of which is log trucks or other tractor-trailers.

     

    I did at least talk to an expert before my maiden bike commute. Jack Sweeney is one of the three guys behind BikeCommuters.com. It’s a site devoted to spreading the word of… Well, if you need me to explain that one to you, maybe you shouldn’t ride your bike to work. You also definitely shouldn’t be driving a car anywhere. It should be obvious. What may not be so obvious is one of the biggest pieces of advice that Sweeney gave me. You don’t have to get fancy to be a bike commuter.

    “One of the common misconceptions of bike commuting is that all sorts of special equipment is needed — that’s a fallacy. While many long-distance commuters will be more comfortable in cycling-specific clothing, the vast majority of potential commuters live within 5 or 6 miles of their workplaces. Because of that, nothing special is required — simply get on your bike and ride!”

    If you choose specialized bike clothing for longer rides (in addition to their other benefits, bike shorts are heavily padded in the important areas), you can always take your work clothes with you in a bag. While I’ve just biked in a quick-drying athletic shirt and gym shorts instead of special cycling gear, I’ve packed the day’s clothes away in my backpack.

    The bikes themselves don’t even have to be special in any way despite being reliable and well-maintained. If you live in a hilly area you probably want something with gears unless you enjoy suffering, but honestly, my mom’s beach cruiser is probably even better suited to commuting than my road bike. Hers has fenders to keep the mud and grime from getting kicked onto her clothes and a rack over the back tire to help haul her stuff around. I’m just not enough of a man to ride to work on a floral-themed bicycle.

    And don’t let being a little out of shape be an excuse not to try this. I’m easily 15 pounds overweight and I have the upper body of a professional cyclist without the giant quads. I have been riding a lot this spring, but my first ride was in no way difficult. It was just slower. True, after my first 10 miles on the bike back in March, my butt was sore for three days, but my body has grown so accustomed to the saddle now that a 20-mile ride leaves my posterior no more uncomfortable than it would have been had I stayed home. Besides, if you’re out of shape now, imagine what getting several miles on the bike a day just as part of your commute will do for you. Read this post from one guy who used the bike to change his health if you need a more concrete example of what I mean.

    Sweeney gave me tons more tips (some that I couldn’t or didn’t have time to take advantage of before my first ride) and I’ve collected those below in list form if you decide to try this for yourself. Read more…

  6. To Air is Human

    Posted on March 22, 2015 by Andrew

    While walking through our apartment complex this morning coming back from a meeting, I made a point of counting all the open windows I saw. It was easy: zero. And no, I wasn’t casing the joint, making notes about which units contained flat-screen TVs and would be easiest to break into (for which reason I’ll exclude all the bottom-floor dwellers from the following discussion.) My interest instead was a result of the perfect open-window weather, 70 and sunny. This is the time of year in this part of the country to air things out, after the pollen has fallen and before the melting heat of summer sets in. Nighttime temperatures have been in the 60s, with daytime highs in the low 80s, and there’s no better time to save some money on your utility bill, which is why it irks me a bit to hear the air conditioners rattling away as I type this.

    It may be true that a programmable thermostat is a great way to save energy, but we shouldn’t forsake logic for the “set it and forget it” mentality (apologies to Ronco.) If you can get your pleasantly cool air straight from the atmosphere around you rather than forcing it through the energy-hogging middleman of the AC, then you should. Open a window and put up a fan. Better still, open windows on two or more sides and let a breeze blow through. I realize that most people are not going to sweat it out like me just to prove a point (especially here in Hotlanta) but surely we can all try and tough it out with no AC in the benign month of May.

    Which brings me to another point: Why, in Atlanta, Georgia of all places, do we build dwellings with windows only on one side that open only from the bottom with no regard to the orientation of the building in relation to the sun? The answer, of course, is air conditioning. Before the advent of AC, homes in warm climes were built with high ceilings, large, abundant windows, and big, friendly porches, the better to take advantage of a passing breeze. Trees were left standing for shade, especially along the south side, and tea was iced. The tea is still iced around here (and instant-cavity sweet) but someone like me is forced to get pretty creative when trying to keep a cave-like apartment cool in the summer, sans AC.

    I realize most people are not going to tough it out when the mercury starts climbing,  growing more determined as the pool of their own salty sweat expands around them, but for those of you who want to give it a try or at least get by with the thermostat set as high as you dare, I posted some tips on this site for staying comfortable in the heat a while back. And if you have any of your own that you’d like to share, let’s see them in the comments.

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings

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