Archive 1st April 2022

How to beat the April 2022 Energy Bill Hike!

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.

My Monthly usage for the past few months. Note the drop in February
(March wasn’t a full month)

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

Race-spec Subaru BRZ racing on synthetic carbon-neutral fuel

Well done Subaru!

They are running a race-spec BRZ in Suzuka this weekend using synthetic (not from fossil fuels) carbon-neutral fuel.

The internal combustion engine lives on and shows it can be clean for the environment! Unlike what the politicians of the world keep telling us.

Motorsport is where real-world research and development happens which leads into our everyday lives.

. o O (Told you Subaru were still focussed on Motorsport)

For further info on how carbon-neutral fuel is created see my post from a few weeks ago on ‘heavyweight’ electric vehicles and how zero petroleum is created.

Full CarScoops Article.
BRZ Concept Racecar Testing Synthetic Carbon-Neutral Fuels In Japan | Carscoops

Boxer Engined Impreza WRX STi has come to an end

Looks like the time has finally come to say goodbye to the ground shaking, petrol infused theatre that is the Impreza WRX STI.

It was inevitable that Subaru would have to make the switch to electric. They are launching their first full EV this year with the Solterra, along with Toyota and its bz4x

The new 2022 BRZ was never going to make it to UK shores and I understand the production has stopped for the new model so no more are going to be made. Fairly limited run globally then.

But I did think a new gen of brz could well be electric. So long as they can keep it lightweight and still have useful range. That’ll be a challenge for the engineers.

For now, due to this press release from Subaru, it looks like there may not be another WRX STI with their trademark boxer layout. Certainly not on the current platform. I’m sure it will return but it’s likely to be high-performance electric.

Can they still make it exciting to drive? A large part of what makes the Impreza good is its performance, road holding ability and what most people recognise is the sound. We’re gonna lose that 3rd one but the first two should remain. At least.

Subaru are still committed to Motorsport although we don’t hear about it much in the UK, and their latest STI concept is an electric track focussed car, so they have a plan.


EV’s are destroying our roads!

Thought for the day …

TL;DR – EV’s are destroying our roads!

Electric Vehicles (EV’s) weigh around 30-50% more than there Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) counterparts. Sure they have no exhaust so don’t pay road tax as that system is based on emissions.

More weight means more damage to our roads

However heavier cars means more wear and tear on our roads. The UK roads are already getting in a worse state of repair every year.  So more money is going to have be spent to maintain and upgrade roads for the amount of heavier cars being “forced” onto them. The extra weight of these vehicles could mean say and extra 40% wear on our roads as ICE cars are replaced with much heavier EV’s. Generally an EV vehicle weights around 500kg more than it’s equivalent ICE vehicle. That’s the same weight and an old mini cooper!

On the extra weight, this could mean potentially higher servicing costs as the cars get older. EV’s still have mechanical, driveshaft, suspension components, brakes & tyres, just like a normal ICE. But the added weight means these components needs to support he extra weight. Therefore the likes of brakes and tyres will either wear out quicker (with possible offset against regenerative braking from EV). Tyres will be wearing out quicker due to the added loads put on them.

More weight means more wear and tear on parts

Servicing costs wont necessarily be much cheaper going forward, sure there’s no oil or spark plug change required but here are other maintenance on the electrics required and potentially more expensive components. ICE’s don’t tend to cause issues in cars, engines are generally bullet proof these days. It’s the brakes, tyres and electrics which cause most problems in cars these days. All of which, EV’s still make sure of, and even more so.

Road tax (VED)

On to the topic of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) for 2022. There’s sadly going to be an increase and probably always will be until the system is updated..  EV owners don’t pay VED because it is based on factory spec vehicle emissions.

So although EV’s are heavier and will likely be wearing our roads out more and they won’t be contributing to the potential upkeep of our roads. Additionally the lighter ICE vehicles will be paying more to subsidise EV’s!  EV’s have been around for a few years now with not much sign of their prices being affordable for most households they are still significantly more expensive that ICE’s even on 2nd hand market! And yet those that cant afford them have to pay more for VED and fuel, which is still cheaper than purchasing an EV of several years of ownership!

EV’s to cost the UK Governmant Billions of £’s in annual revinue

As of 2019 the government raised around £6.5 Billion just through VED.  That’s quite a big deficit to government funding my moving to EV’s Not to mention the government also takes a cut of the petrol/diesel you currently fill up you car with. In 2019 that amount was an additional £27 Billion. So to add that up with eh big push to EV’s the government is going to potentially lost over £30 Billion a year. With more wear and tear on our roads due to heavier vehicles. They are going to have to find a way to get that money from somewhere!

With ICE’s I’ve always been an advocate for scrapping VED and applying the additional “Vehicle Tax” on the cost of fuel. Which I believe would have been fair. The more you drive, the more fuel you use, the more tax you pay. Which, we all hope but doesn’t happen, goes back into the maintenance and upgrade of our roads.

Are modern petrol & diesel vehicles really that dirty?

Just to go back to the point on emissions and “nasty” stuff form exhausts.. My 2014 big diesel 4×4 with 70,000 miles on it, which weighs at least 100kg less than the modern EV city cars. Still on its original exhaust. Doesn’t get any of the classic plumes of smoke from it’s exhaust like you used to get with much older diesel vehicles. In fact I’ve just gone outside and scrubbed my finger on the inside of the exhaust tip and my fingers are clean!. No black carbon or soot build up at all. So just how harmful are modern ICE vehicles? Well the wee sporty 200bhp Subaru BRZ I have qualifies for the Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) in London!  So are modern ICE’s really that bad?

Clean carbon-neutral fuels are here today

On a final note,  Check out Zero Petroleum – research and testing already completed successfully to create synthetic fuel from the carbon dioxide from the environment with the help of Renewable electricity and Green Hydrogen (using the electricity produced by solar, wind & wave. This process is similar to what plants and trees do naturally for our planet by cleaning up the air we breathe by applying a process called Petrosynthesis. A Carbon Neutral way to produce a petrol which you can put into your car, van, bus, aeroplane without any modifications to the vehicle. Compare that to a time in 2021 when it was reported that around 50% of the electricity production in the UK was supplied by burning natural gas! So just how “clean” are we being by moving to EV’s

Forcing everyone to switch solely to Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV’s) right now, is not the answer…
…In my opinion…