24 Mar 2014

Top 5 Energy-Saving Gadgets

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Energy Saving Gadgets (that work and save you money!)

Saving energy equates directly to saving money and reducing your weekly fuel costs. Sometimes in order to save energy you have to spend a little money up front in order to reduce the amount of fuel you use.

We have recently been bombarded with advice to take the easy ‘no and low cost’ measures such as draught proofing our doors, windows and loft hatches. By keeping cold air out, you need less heat to stay warm. It’s logical, relatively cheap and not only saves money over the year but also makes your home more comfortable.

Heat in our homes escapes through the floor, the roof, the windows and walls, so insulation of your home is absolutely the single most effective way to save energy and make your home more comfortable. New Homes are built and pressure tested for leakage to ensure that heat lost is absolutely minimal, then and only then can you choose how to heat a home in your preferred manner as only a minimum amount of heat will be required as it will not leak out as in a poorly insulated home.

Once you have done your best to insulate and draught proof your home its time tackle habit and behaviour, you know, teenagers spending 20 minutes in the shower and leaving a trail of stand- by lights on their appliances. So here are a few gadgets that can help.

Install an Energy Monitor

This small device, often given free by your energy supplier, raises awareness and shows you when and where you electricity is being consumed. The display continually monitors the power flow of electricity through your home and can convert this to money or kilowatts. Turn an electric shower on and it will ‘rev up’ at an alarming rate, as will a microwave, electric kettle etc. It does not directly save money, but simply shows you where your money is going and therefore encourages action, like putting a timer in the shower and pegging the teenagers. A toaster permanently on stand-by can cost you over £20 per year!

Eco Lighting

-if you do nothing else start changing over your old bulbs to LEDs. Take for example16 down lighters in the kitchen, a rail of 4 in the living room and a dainty rose of 3 in each bedroom, and it’s very easy to arrive at 40 bulbs throughout the house. Let’s say each halogen or tungsten bulb averages 50watts resulting in 2kw (2000watts) or 2 bar fires on!!!. You can now get the same amount of light lasting 10,000 hours or more using as little as 120 watts IN TOTAL saving £100s of pounds in a single year! These bulbs are now as low as £4 each so payback in a year.

Radiator Boosts

You can improve the heat you get from each radiator by harnessing the wasted heat dissipated up the wall. Devices such as ‘The Radiator Booster’ cost as little as £15 and can save over £100 per year. Basically, it a plastic tube that sits on top radiator pushed back against the wall. The tube gathers the heat from behind the radiator and sends it out into the room where you need it! It’s powered by a tiny plug in motor that uses just a couple of watts, but returns far more. If you can’t afford one of these then try placing a tin foil sheet behind the radiator which will reflect the heat back into the room.
The same principle can be applied by placing a shelf 6 to 10 inches above a night store heater to ‘kick’ the warm air into the room.

Motorised TRVs

TRVs are those thermostatically controlled valves you normally find on the pipe leading into each radiator. Numbered 1 to 5 you can slightly increase or decrease the temperature of each radiator. Problem is we don’t use them, so we heat up each and every room, even when there is nobody in that room all day (or even month if they have gone to Uni)! For about £35 per room, you can make every room an independent zone, fully controllable and saving you a small fortune in wasted heat. Each M-TRV screws onto the radiator replacing the normal TRV and has a digital readout allowing you to input when you want in to come on and off as many times per day/week/month as you wish. Teenagers back to College for the term? No problem, just programme the TRV in their room for an hour or so per day to help air the room and move on. A small motor on top of the TRV will automatically turn on /off as programmed!

Boiler Performance

‘My old boiler is over 20 years old but still working so I’m not changing it.’ Well, that boiler is about 60% efficient, and a new boiler will be about 90% efficient. Simple maths dictates that you are using 30% more Oil/gas than you need to get exactly the same heat. So, for 1500 litres of oil per year, you could save 450 litres at about 55p plus Vat is £250 per year. Makes sense if you can afford it, but if you can’t, consider CombiSmart.

CombiSmart costing around £80

This is a small valve connected to the boiler which does not allow water into your piped system until it is hot enough. It stops cold water circulating through your central heating system until its hot enough to do its job. The makers reckon it can save 32,000 litres of water being pumped electrically and needlessly in a year.

Controllers

These can be anything from stand-by savers, which turn off appliances when they are not being used; Ecobuttons that glow encouraging you to press them at the end of the day and automatically starting when you touch them. There are all sorts, often given away by energy giants. They are necessary because we are lazy and habitual when it comes to saving power.
Fuel Prices will continue to rise as our natural resources deplete, this means that we should not only seek to reduce our consumption to save our costs but also to leave some provision of fuel security for future generations. Using good sense, good gadgets and good education we can all benefit.

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About the Author


Vince set up Cornwall Home Energy Surveys in 2008 after 22 years as a Lecturer/ Head at Plymouth then Cornwall Colleges, followed by a 5 year stint with Cornwall Tourist Board. Based in St Agnes, Vince is ideally placed to carry out Energy Assessments in the Truro, Falmouth, Camborne and Newquay areas. Living in Cornwall, with a great family and an interesting job; life doesn't get much better.

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