Friday, October 26, 2012

Electric Shock!

This week I received a nice email from my electricity and gas supplier which reminded me to read the meters.  As you may remember I recently (June) changed energy supplier in an effort to save us a little cash. One feature of this new company, which many companies offer now, is the facility to add regular readings on line, so you can see what is happening with your usage. I though that sounded like a good feature so that I knew if I needed to be putting a little extra cash aside for the winter months.

On receipt of the email, I dutifully went outside and wrote down the values on the dials and came back in and entered them online. For the gas it accepted it no worries, a surprise really as the central heating has kicked in during the last month so I would have expected it to have gone up. For the electricity though it wouldn't accept my reading! "Are your sure this reading is correct" it asked, and went on to tell me that my electricity use had more than doubled this month in caparison to previous months. Of course I went out to check the reading again, but alas I had got it right - something crazy is going on with our electricity consumption.

So I have spent a few days analysing the situation. There are really just two things that I think could have changed; the use of lighting at the beginning and end of the day (and sometimes in the middle of the day!) as the days get shorter, and the use of the tumble dryer. Immediately here you might think that the tumble dryer is the culprit, but in fairness I used it for most of our dismal summer too, so use of that hasn't really changed a great deal.

I got the gadget out again (it was moved into the office when BB started 'playing' with it and never got reconnected). I placed in my office and watched as things like the washing machine and tumble dryer  whirred away, but it didn't make sense. I use them both everyday. It has to be something else. So I began the experiment of switching on various lights.

Of course there is background stuff going on here all the time, like the freezer and fridge, so I turned them off during the experiment, and of course I had to keep the office light on the whole time to see what the heck I was doing. There may be other things using energy all the time too, like my radio alarm clock, the wireless router and the phone, but let's assume they are constant.

Here are my results.

Office light only £7.99
Office light plus low energy light in kitchen: £8.11 per month
Office light plus under unit lights in kitchen: £29 per month
Office light plus low energy light in lounge plugged into the same power board as the TV, computer, wii, and sound system so that they all come on standby: £9.20 per month
Office light and low energy light in lounge, now in it's own socket: £8.24 per month
Office light and dimmer lamp in lounge: £8.79
Office light plus dimmer lamp in bedroom: £12



The under unit lights in the kitchen give a nicer light than the ceiling globe. Sometimes I use them during the day when I'm preparing food, and lately they will have gone on at about 4 when I get BB's tea and stayed on until I have gone to bed. The dimmer lamp in my room has also been going on when BB has his bedtime story, and lately I have been leaving it on until I go to bed (this week 6+ hours after him due to a crazy work load). The rationale behind that was so there is a constant light and I can see to get upstairs without turning the big light on and risking waking him. Pointless really. I've stopped now and am using the light on my phone to get up the stairs. The low energy lamp in the lounge is now plugged into its own socket (I had to move it for a while there as BB was playing with the wires, but he has outgrown that a bit, and the furniture is slightly rearranged, so I think it's safe to move it back. I am not sure why the dimmer lamp in the lounge uses so much less than the one in my room, but I can tell you the lounge one is a nice, expensive one that mum bought me for my birthday, and the one in my bedroom is from a budget store.

So, under unit lights off in the kitchen unless actually needed, no dimmer lamp in bedroom if no one is in the room, no stuff on standby. I am looking forward to entering next months figures already!

Incidentally, I am not going to name my energy co. here as I don't believe any energy company in the UK deserves free advertising, but they were cheaper for me, and this little warning is a handy feature. They have also sent me an email saying that if I recommend a friend by email and they switch, each of us will get £25! So, if you want to check out and and see if it's cheaper for you too, drop me an email blissfulmama at y mail dot com

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