“There are also ways in which members can reduce their energy consumption, by making some simple changes of their own,” says Hugh Crothers, Director of Property of Tenants First, Britain’s largest housing co-operative.
Perhaps the most obvious is to change the light bulbs to low-energy bulbs. These can produce the same amount of light as a conventional bulb. For example a 13 to 18-watt energy saving bulb, will produce as much light as a 60-watt conventional bulb, but use only around 25% of the energy.
Yes, they are more expensive (costing about £3 to £4, compared with about 50p for a conventional bulb), but on average one low energy bulb should save you about £9 on your electricity bill each year, or as much as £100 over the life of the bulb.
You should also get into the habit of not leaving appliances on stand-by. When your television is on, it is probably using between 80 and 400 watts of power depending on its make and type (plasma screens are at the top end of the scale). Put your TV on standby and it will continue to use up to ten watts of electricity until you switch it off.
The same goes for hi-fis, computers and most other equipment with a stand-by setting. Indeed, it is estimated that the average household may be wasting £75 or more each year, simply because equipment is left on stand-by and not switched off.
If you want to understand more about how much electricity you are using and on which appliances, you might want to consider buying an energy monitor.
These monitors are quite reasonably priced and are available in many supermarkets. They have a sensor that simply clips round the main cable at your electricity meter and transmits details of your minute-by-minute electricity usage to a remote display. By switching on and off appliances you can see what is using most power and how much it is costing you.
Kettles, for example, use a lot of power, albeit for short times. So, boil only the amount of water you need.
With your house heating you should consider the ‘on’ and ‘off’ times that suit your needs. If you go out during the day, set the heating to go off 30 minutes before you leave the house, or 30 minutes before you go to bed. Have it set to come on 30 minutes before you get home, or before you get up in the morning.
If you have a room thermostat, try turning it down a degree. If you are still warm enough, that one degree could save you about £30 per year.
It is amazing how a few simple changes like these can make a quite substantial difference to your energy bills and make a contribution to reducing our carbon dioxide emissions.