The idea has been to try to do small things that, together, might add up to a saving of around 10% in terms of energy use.
How have we been getting on? One of the main – and most useful – things we’ve done is simple – we’ve taken weekly meter readings. And here, courtesy of imeasure, is a graph showing our energy usage over the last few months (click on the graph to see it in more detail)
It’s still early days, but I think it’s fair to say that you can see a small, steady decline in our electricity usage. It tended to be around 100kWh per week in the first few months, and it’s dropped below that since the end of January.
The week when it looks like we used no electricity is a statistical blip – the meter got replaced and that messed up my stats.
Gas use is a bit harder to comment on – I think the changes in usage have more to do with the weather than with any particular change in our behaviour as most of the usage is for the central heating. But it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on that over time – and compare next winter with this one. (The week when the meter reading was close to zero was the week the central heating broke – and we had to buy a new boiler).
I’ve explained the things we’ve done to reduce our energy use in a previous post. The only thing that I think is worth repeating is that being mindful of your energy use can have a real impact. That doesn’t mean that you have to totally obsessive. It just means being aware – taking note of how your energy use changes week on week – and then changing little things. Adjusting the thermostat, that kind of thing.
In a couple of weeks I’m taking part in Green Day – organised by local environmental community organisation REAP. A number of us are opening up our homes for the day to let people see the things we’re doing to reduce our energy use at home.
I was keen to get involved because I’m a big believer in the idea that we change what we do when we see people we know – people who are a bit like us – changing what they do. So if I see a few neighbours growing their own veg, or taking the time to draught-proof every last corner of their house – then I’m more likely to do the same. I’m much more likely to change my behaviour that way – whereas a Government campaign might alienate me, and I might not necessarily trust someone who’s trying to sell me the latest green technology.
A number of people who are taking part have had solar panels installed, some have triple glazed windows, whilst others have invested in the latest insulation techniques. A couple are attempting to lead a suburban good life by growing much of their food in their back gardens.
I’ll mainly be talking about LEDs (yes, form an orderly queue) – having spent a good amount of time researching various LED bulbs – and finally settling on some from Bradford-based Energy Saving LED. I think the story I’ll be telling is about energy saving not just being about big investments like solar panels. I’m all for people investing in solar – and I’d like to do that in the future when we can afford it – but it’s important to focus also on the small things we can do at home.
Investing in some decent energy-saving bulbs – which to be fair in some cases can be pretty expensive to buy – might not be as sexy as solar but it can make a real difference. Similarly spending £60 on a new thermostat which you can actually work out how to adjust can be money well spent too.
So if you’re interested in having a look around a few houses and chatting to people about what they’ve done – and presumably in some cases what they might do different next time – sign up here or leave a comment below and I’ll put you in touch.