So here we are. April 2022, as with many, my energy supplier has tried to double my monthly Direct Debit since this time last year!. Energy prices are soaring, and outside temperatures have just taken a dip this week. I guess April this will be an expensive month for household bills!!
But rather than whinge and complain about it, there are some things you can do yourself to help beat the price hike when it comes to electricity usage.
TL:DR – How I cut my electricity usage by 30% before the 2022 price hike without compromising how I use electricity in the home.
Before I get started I’d already swapped out all the main bulbs around the home when I moved, The LED bulbs use less than 10 watts per bulb rather than the standard 60 watts. LED bulbs are much more affordable these days and don’t cost much more than old incandescent bulbs. It’s a complete no brainer to save electricity. This is something everyone should do if you haven’t done so already!
Standby Still uses Electricity
Many modern electrical devices are energy efficient compared to what they used to be. But all those little standby modes add up around the home. For example, mains smoke alarms, fridge/freezer, heating boiler, tv’s on standby, smart speakers, games consoles, landline phones, mobiles/tablets charging. It all adds up as 24hr electricity usage.
Sure we can understand a kettle, oven, washing machine causing a spike in our electricity usage as they are generally heating elements that convert electricity to heat. But there are things you can do to reduce your ongoing energy usage.
Monitoring your base level energy usage
I have been using energy meters in the home for at least 15 years, long before smart meters were a thing. Monitoring daily/weekly/monthly usage, but also keeping an eye on overnight usage when nothing should be eating electricity too much.
I use an Efergy Engage set-up to log daily usage. Similar sort of monitor to what people with working smart meters get. I got smart meters installed a few months ago but they don’t work properly, and I still have to give meter readings manually.
Back at the start of February, I did a fresh review of my home as to what devices were using electricity, using a plugin energy monitor to test how much electricity was being used with certain devices. Particularly overnight when asleep and no use requiring it. (that’s about 1/3 of the day!)
Now I’m not a heavy electricity user. My daily usage was averaging about 8.5 KWh at the start of the year, much less than most households. After my own energy review, I’m now running at around 6 kWh per day. That’s around 30% drop in electricity usage, which in turn should have the knock-on effect of a reduced hit from the April price increase.
I’ve not changed any habits or bought any new energy-efficient devices so how did I manage that?
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t use a huge amount of electricity anyway even while working from home, my usage was averaging 8.5 KWh per day. But what I focussed on were things that were eating electricity, even when I wasn’t using them. Things that were powered off at the device rather than the wall. I won’t go into the full findings report, but to give you an idea, below is a sample of things around my home that use up electricity 24×7
Google Home Mini (smart speaker) – 1.3 watts
Main Computer when powered off – 7 watts
Laptop charging (when full) – 0.3 watts
Mobile phone charging – 1.3 watts
TV + sound system + Freeview box and a few other media devices. (all on standby) – 55 watts
Local Computer Server with broadband routers and other related network devices – 70 watts
…This is not an extensive list but a few key items.
Just as a quick add up that’s 135 watts of power 24×7 (approx. £27.50/month on an April 2022 tariff)
Two key ones there are, the computer with broadband equipment and the TV stuff. Even on standby the TV, Freeview box, media stuff were using 55 watts constantly. I hardly watch TV so that’s just electricity being wasted for the majority of the day.
So with that in mind, standby isn’t always as efficient as we think. Sure we are advised to switch stuff off at the wall. But if like me, the sockets are behind furniture and not easily accessible, that’s not really a convenient option.
Smart Plugs are not just a playful gimmick, these can save you electricity & money!
So for around £10 each, I bought a couple more smart plugs from Amazon. I already have a few dotted around the house that I’ve had for over 20 years, (Yes that’s long before modern “smart-plugs” were a thing) all doing clever stuff.
Now when walking away from the desk in the evening or finished watching TV. I either use the Google app to switch off the Workstation or ask the smart speaker on my way down the stairs, to switch it off and it powers off the device at the wall, a simple routine to get into which saves you money! And no need to climb under desks to get to the wall socket.
Similarly use the app or ask google to switch on the TV when I want to watch something. Saving me 55 watts of power when not in use.
Sure the smart plug is around £10, and yes the plug does use 0.7 watts of power on its own. But that’s a lot less than 55 watts and would pay for itself in about a month anyway.
For the server, which I always like to have access to for files & local services. I didn’t use a smart plug but rather set a scheduled task on it to shut down later at night and then a bios schedule to automatically boot it up again in the morning. Saving another good chunk of electricity for 7hrs overnight when I’m much less likely to be using it (should be asleep). Schedules can also be set on smart plugs so you can do the same with other devices around the home
Save electricity and your bank account.. Oh, and I guess the environment.
So yeah, quite a simple change, which hasn’t really affected the way I use electricity in the home. Has meant a noticeable drop in energy usage, since the start of February when I implemented these small changes. Will be monitoring my bills this year and may see what else I can squeeze down if costs get too much.
Think about the difference it could make in a family home with multiple TV’s around the house, games consoles, sky/Freeview boxes etc. Either switch them off at the wall or get yourself some smart plugs and control the power that way or set timers.
If your kids Xbox or PlayStation is plugged in behind a chest of draws, a smart plug would let you have control to power it off remotely (have fun!)
Free electricity with Solar?
I possibly won’t get them installed in my current home unless I decide to stay there long term, not planning on it. But with the amount of electricity I use, I wouldn’t need too many solar panels to cover my electricity usage throughout the day. If I also invested in a storage battery for the home, ok they are not exactly cheap, I could easily generate and store enough electricity to cover my usage 24×7. Therefore using very little or no electricity from the grid. Something I would definitely consider budgeting for if I move house.
Also, there are still feed-in tariffs available, although not as good rates as they were years ago, Energy companies pay you if you generate more solar energy than you use. Imagine that, electricity companies paying you for your generated electricity!! That would be a nice change. But solar panels with battery storage systems aren’t cheap, and even on today’s new electricity tariffs, it would still take a few years to break even, but possibly a good investment for yourself if you are planning to stay in the same house long term.
Plugin Energy Meter (Amazon)
Smart Plugs (Amazon)
#EnergySaving #BeatTheEnergyPriceHike #ThinkSmarterNotHarder