Our first session was held in February to discuss how we can spend less on our energy usage.

2012 'Energy Consumption in UK' DECC Report

2012 ‘Energy Consumption in UK’ DECC Report

According to the 2012 DECC report ‘Energy Consumption in the UK’, around 60% of our total domestic consumption is  used for space heating, 18% in heating water, 19% in lighting & appliances, leaving around 3% used for cooking.

Studies have shown that one of the cheapest and easiest ways to reduce your consumption is to monitor usage on a regular basis, typically seeing reductions of 5-10% per year. Electricity is easiest to track, with simple and easy to fit monitors available from your local Suffolk library. These electricity meters show your real-time and historical usage, measured in Kwh, £ and CO2. Similar information should also be available on your regular electricity  bills to which should make comparison and switching easier to understand.

Electricity bills from the households in our small group were relatively low (most relying on domestic heating oil and log burners/fires for space heating) ranging between £42-60 per month, using between 10-14Kwh per day on average. A recent comprehensive and free online Which energy company comparison report is worth reading if you haven’t switched recently.

Many of the households in rural Suffolk are part of the 1.5 million homes beyond the reach of mains gas, leaving just electricity, LPG or domestic heating oil for the majority of our energy needs with few other viable options.  These are the homes that the recent Green Deal hope to help through financial incentives to improve efficiency of devices and reduce demand through increased insulation – another cheap and easy action that will pay back in months rather than years.

As part of the Suffolk Energy Action campaign, The Suffolk Climate Change Partnership is pleased to announce they have been awarded a further £3.5million by the Department of Energy and Climate Change from the Green Deal Communities Fund.

Suffolk is amongst only six areas in the country to benefit from the Green Deal Communities Fund” to date. The money will be used to support up to 2000 households to make energy saving improvements to their homes as well as enabling local plumbing, heating and building businesses to gain training and national accreditation to undertake this type of work.

Further information about Suffolk Energy Action can be found on www.suffolkenergyaction.org or by calling 0800 840 90 90 (Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm). Where residents will be able to find out which money saving, energy efficiency measures could be installed in their home. These will be at a reduced cost or in some cases free of charge. Over the coming months specific neighbourhoods across Suffolk will also be targeted with letters and followed up by visits from trained advisors. These will be in Beccles, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Ipswich, Lowestoft and Sudbury The letter will clearly display the Suffolk Energy Action and Council logos – all addresses within ‘No Cold Calling Zones’ noted by Suffolk Trading Standards will be removed from the campaign.

Oil meters are available but not as easy to track usage. However if you have to use oil, savings are possible by purchasing through a bulk oil buying group such as the Boyton OIL Syndicate which can typically save a few pence per litre by clubbing together and getting a better price.

A few other observations from our round table discussion included:

  • noticing that an external light sensor switch was not working, wasting electricity when not needed
  • switching out halogen bulbs in kitchens and bathrooms with new LED lights can pay back in a couple of years and provide a brighter light
  • small inexpensive solar PV chargers can be used to trickle charge torches, laptops and other small electrical devices
  • having a camping stove as back-up in the case of power cuts is handy, and some communities are also installing LPG gas cookers in village halls as part of a community emergency plan

And after brief foray into renewables and nuclear power, we viewed a solar hot water installation, underfloor heating system and mini-solar PV powered larder fan before the two hours was up. Our next meeting will discuss WATER usage – do you know which two activities typically use half the water in the home? Follow us next month to find out this and more.

Thanks for reading this far. Why not share your energy saving tip or question by posting some feedback.