Energy Saving Challenge

It’s getting chilly already, even though we’re only just getting into October. I passed my neighbour yesterday who was dressed from head to foot like an Eskimo, complaining about the cold, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the cost of energy is preying on your mind. Prices have soared this year and a gloomy report commissioned by Centrica back in the summer reckons they could jump by another 60 per cent in the next two years.

This is a horrifying thought, especially considering the 3.5m UK households already in fuel poverty (spending more than 10 per cent of their income on fuel), according to government figures released last week. Recent research by the National Housing Federation predicts that almost 25 per cent of UK households will end 2009 owing money to their energy provider, and that many people on low incomes will be forced to choose between heating or eating during the winter. What’s more, energy watchdog Ofgem has this week warned companies to stop charging customers different prices if they pay by different means. Currently customers on pre-payment meters – often people with credit problems or in fuel poverty – and those paying by cheque pay more for their energy than those settling their bill via direct debit.

So this month MSN have set me a new challenge – to cut my energy bill and investigate ways of saving energy around the home. During the task I will be finding out where DJ and I are wasting precious energy every day around the house and introducing measures to combat this, examining the government’s new insulation initiative and energy companies’ social tariffs, as well as investigating alternative energy sources and life without gas and electricity.

I used to consider our household as reasonably green, but since I began working from home and started using the heating during the day in the winter our fuel bills have risen considerably, in addition to the energy price hikes. Only recently I was shocked by receiving a bumper bill from my old energy company NPower. So it’s clear that something has to change. And while we can’t necessarily control international coal and oil prices, with which our energy prices are linked, we can do something about our own consumption and examine alternatives. Sometimes it frightens me just how reliant we are on gas and electricity these days and how helpless we seem to be whenever there is a major power outage.

Are we too reliant on gas and electricity? What do you think is the answer to our fuel price woes? Leave a comment and let me know.

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One Response to Energy Saving Challenge

  1. Christine says:

    The easiest thing to do first is to check for draughts and cure those – most of us can manage to do this even those who are not very handy. Don\’t forget to check that your floor is not letting in draughts too which is another easy enough job to sort out. The next simple thing to do is to look at how you cook and how often you use the kettle for cups of coffee during the working day. A flask of boiling water first thing whilst you are working at home will help with cutting back on the kettle use. There are many quite fun meals that can be made in one pot or done in the microwave (think jacket spud and fillings). You should also investigate slow cookers which can be quite energy efficient. Energy efficient light bulbs are a lot nicer to look at now and the price has dropped so these are not an expensive option and they really do last. I haven\’t changed a light bulb for 6 years though one is coming to the end of its days. Heavy duty curtains certainly help – trouble is that these are getting hard to find in the charity shops and the price is almost the same as in normal shops. A lot of students know tricks for double glazing windows that help greatly without going to the cost of full double glazing. Don\’t be fooled by the social tariffs on offer – there are sometimes better rates around if you look but it\’s a game and a half to understand the gas and electricity pricing. Dual fuel on-line paid by direct debit rates are the best way to go as these give you considerable discounts and allow you to enter meter readings if you miss the meter man so that your bill is always correct. All these are simple measures which can make a dent in the bill that you pay.

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