Sunday, 4 February 2007

Energy use.

Just over a year ago I watched a television program about reducing energy usage at home. The program challenged a family with a house full of electrical appliances to live within the UK average for electricity and gas consumption and also to drive the average mileage for a week. I can't now remember the figure for the gas or the mileage but the electricity figure stuck in my brain - we should aim for less than 10kWh/day.

As I sat watching the program I remember thinking that we must be under the average, all our light bulbs were low energy ones and all our clothes were line dried, I was sure we were doing OK. We use gas for heating and hot water so our electricity is just for lighting ,cooking and electrical appliances.

I noted our readings for the month of January 2006 ....I was very wrong we used way more than average at 444kWh instead of 310kWh. Of course I made excuses for myself, we cook by electricity while a lot of people would be using gas, it was one of the darkest months of the year, there were four of us so we used several rooms at once etc etc. but I was determined to bring the figure down. Each month last year I noted the gas and electricity readings at the end of the month.

I have just compared the figures for the month of January with last years

January 2006 Electricity 444kWh
January 2007 Electricity 291 kWh

I am very pleased with the improvement. Changes we made in 2006 included
- we had to replace our fridge freezer during the year and although it we replaced with a very similar model I expect that it might be more efficient.
- we now turn everything off at the wall, previously the oven and video were left on so that the clock was still showing, not using much power but not necessary.
- we turned off our printer which we kept on as it was also our fax machine, we get faxes so rarely now that it hasn't been a problem.
- as much as possible I try to use the oven for a couple of things at the same time - timing bread baking or biscuit making to coincide with cooking the meal
- doing the majority of our washing at 40C and using the short wash option even when washing a full load. I was a bit dubious about this at first but the washing still seems to be clean. I have noticed that the combination of low temperature washing and no bleach soap powder does tend to lead to a stale smell in the machine but washing a load at 60C every one to two weeks seems to keep this at bay.

I was surprised that these changes made such a large difference but I suppose all the little things add up.

At the end of 2006 I had brought our daily electricity use for the complete year down to an average of 9.72kWh per day so I did just beat the UK average but I hope the figure will be even lower this coming year - I like a challenge.

Our gas usage ( heating and hot water) is also down this year from 230 units in January 2006 to 160 units in January 2007. I don't think I can take full credit for this though, we have increased our loft insulation and now tke showers more than baths but I think it must be mainly down to the very mild weather.

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