It’s day 1 of the B&Q Great Energy Race! And we’re off!!
Last week Andrew, from the B&Q Energy Team, came out to the flat to conduct an energy assessment. Andrew was very knowledgeable and our chat was informative and interesting. We had a chat about our energy use in the flat, and he took at look at our current insulation, windows, light bulbs, boiler, radiators, shower and kitchen appliances. We also discussed our general home energy, water and transportation usage, and looked at my past utility statements to get a handle on overall energy use and costs.
Being a good environmental scientist, my methodical first course of action is to:
1) – establish a baseline.
Getting a handle on one’s baseline energy usage isn’t actually all that straightforward. You can look at your meter if you have one inside, but it’s not the easiest to see increases in usage, and translating that into costs can require a wee bit of algebra and some analysis of your energy bill. Energy bills have a bad reputation in the UK for being impossible to understand, which makes choosing the best plans difficult. But that’s a topic for another post on another day. OK, right, now how in the world can one figure out how much electricity they are using??
There are a couple of home energy monitors on the market that you can use. I bought an OWL a few years back and it was a REAL eye-opener for me. I recently brushed off the dust on it, replaced the batteries and turned it on again in preparation for the #GERace. Once again it was very interesting to see my family’s electricity use, and it really does make me realise how wasteful simple actions like leaving on even one energy saving lightbulb can be. If you don’t want to shell out that much money for a monitor, you may think about splitting the cost amongst a few friends, and share it on a monthly rota. My OWL tells me how many kilowatts I am using at any particular time. As you can see in the trio of photos above, when my home has a few things plugged in (the computer, TV and my background “stuff”) my usage is only a tenth of a kilowatt or less. But when I turn on my kettle for my daily teapot, it goes up to nearly 3 kilowatts. My electric oven and dishwasher going simultaneously kicks it up to nearly 5 kilowatts!
Andrew’s initial home assessment was an excellent starting point to start planning my actions for the next 28-days. It’s reassuring to hear that in general, we’ve made the major loft insulation measures we can take. But… There’s always a but isn’t there?? But our boiler is rather old, so the rating isn’t stellar. Oh me, shall I tell you what it is rated? This is about as embarrassing as telling you all my weight! But here goes, we have a 13+ year-old boiler that is rated D for energy efficiency! We knew it was old (it was here when we bought the flat) and we knew that we wanted to replace it when we finally get around to remodelling the kitchen. But we’ve had our kitchen remodel plans for the past 7 years, and we still haven’t gotten around to them. New kitchens are expensive, and so are boilers! Excuses, excuses right? Well, now that I have had an expert give me the definitive news on just how horrendous our boiler is, we may need to bump up replacement in our financial priorities. Do you know what your boiler efficiency rating is? You need to know your make, model and capacity and then you can look it up online. There’s been quite a bit of news about boiler ratings in the media recently, but the bottom line for me is that our boiler isn’t good. So for the time being, I’ll just have to use it as little as possible until we can afford to replace it.
Yes, that means we’re turning down our old thermostat and pulling up our woolly socks! There’s nothing like hand-knit socks from the Isle of Harris too warm up chilly feet and legs. Who says energy saving can’t be luxurious??
Check back here tomorrow to find out how I’m getting on with draught-proofing the flat. I hope to hear from you with your comments and recommendations!