For many Londoners, the cost of living is already very high. Monthly energy bills for their gas and electricity are unavoidable but switching regularly can reduce those outgoings significantly. Comparing your last year’s bill every twelve months might seem like a chore but it could pay for your holiday each year if you play your cards right and do the leg work. It really doesn’t take that long, especially if once you’ve done it a few times. Find your favourite comparison site covering the Monken Hadley area and set a yearly reminder on your phone. Then act on it each year to make the most saving possible.
To find the lowest tariff you might need to look at your gas bill and your electricity bill separately. This is easier than you might think at first. Ove you’ve selected the best tariff for both services your gas and electric bills will be lower and you can start to plan that summer holiday.
More Energy Saving Tips
As we all know running the home central heating during the winter months can be expensive, but did you know there are some simple things you can do that can help bring down those costs. Your central heating boiler is an essential part of your home, it supplies you with unlimited hot water when you need it, and it keeps you warm in the colder months.
First, make sure that you have your boiler serviced each year, preferably before the winter kicks in. Your central heating boiler is just like a car engine, if left unserviced, over time things will start to go wrong, the same goes for the central heating boiler.
If your central heating boiler is not serviced and something is starting to go wrong your energy bills will start to rise, your boiler may need to work harder to reach that desired temperature thus higher bills, if the boiler is maintained and checked over, anything that needs adjusting or replacing can be carried out.
Another simple way to save money is to make sure the radiator itself has nothing around it, keep it clear so the heat can penetrate the room, don’t put clothes that you want to dry on the radiator put them on a clothes horse close by they will still dry. When you put clothes on the radiator all the heat is lost into the clothes and the room takes longer to heat up. Pipe insulation is another way of cutting down those energy bills. Any pipework that you can visibly see should be insulated. By fitting insulation to the pipes you are reducing the heat loss from that pipe, you can buy pipe insulation from the local DIY store.
These are just a few of the ways you can save on those central heating bills, and remember when you have the central heating boiler serviced, only use a registered gas safe company or engineer.
Now that you’ve saved money on your gas and electricity bill why not look at the other monthly costs that eat into your usable reserves and save even more money each month.
If the Government is ever to meet its legally-binding target for 12 per cent of the UK’s heat to come from low-carbon or renewable sources, district heating will play an integral role. Yet district heating currently represents a minuscule fraction of the UK energy sector, with only 210,000 homes and 1,700 businesses currently connected. This stands in stark contrast to other countries like Sweden, Denmark, Germany and South Korea where a far higher proportion of people receive their heat via such networks.
If operated effectively, there is no doubt district heating schemes can be more efficient, lower cost and emit less carbon dioxide than gas or other alternative heating models. However, there is a real risk that the environmental benefits of district heating are being obscured by a very real perception among consumers that they do not offer a fair deal.
At least six district heating schemes currently operate in my constituency of Greenwich and Woolwich at New Capital Quay, The Movement, Greenwich Square in East Greenwich, Greenwich Millennium Village (GMV) on the Peninsula, Woolwich Central on Love Lane and Royal Arsenal Riverside in Woolwich. A fifth is to follow at Enderby Wharf in East Greenwich. Over the past five months I have amassed a bulky file of correspondence from constituents who are served by these networks and who believe that they are being unfairly charged and that there is a lack of transparency about what is covered in their bills.
The UK district heating market is still in its infancy and so low levels of consumer confidence might be expected. What exacerbates the low levels of consumer confidence in this area is the absence of consumer choice. If district heating customers enjoyed the same freedom of choice that others on the grid do they could respond to concerns over pricing and transparency by switching supplier. Instead, they are locked to monopolies from which there is no escape.
The current state of affairs cries out for effective statutory regulation. The most recent consultation on district heating regulation occurred in 2014 and little appears to have moved on since the Government’s initial decision not to regulate the market on the basis that it would drive investment in the sector by avoiding red tape.
District heating suppliers have sought to build trust and confidence in the market by establishing the Heat Trust, an initiative sponsored by the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE). Given the levels of consumer mistrust that now exist this industry-led approach can only ever be an interim solution. First, the voluntary nature of the Trust does not guarantee universal coverage for all district heating consumers. Second, it will do little to reassure customers that the market operates on the basis of fair and consistent pricing, particularly when one considers that the Heat Trust’s pricing formula is benchmarked to gas networks that utilise very different technologies. Third, it is not an adequate substitute for the redress provided by a sector Ombudsman.
If we are to effectively protect district heat customers and build confidence in a market where future success is crucial to the UK meeting its legally binding targets on low-carbon heat, the Government needs to look seriously at introducing effective regulation of the industry, and quickly.
How Does the Wholesale Price of Gas Affect Household Energy Bills? Q and ALucy Symons, Director of Public Policy at Open Energi calls on policy makers to make regulation fit for purpose
This winter, the UK is expecting high demand for electricity supply and an increase in costs. Renewable power sources are starting to fill the gap left behind by closing coal power stations, but they generate more when the sun shines or the wind blows and are not necessarily available when people turn on their televisions in the evenings.
National Grid pays gas and coal plants and diesel farms to turn up or down their supply whenever there’s an increase or decrease in demand for electricity. This winter alone, keeping power plants going for peak demand is forecast to cost consumers £122 million, while an estimated £800 million in subsidies may be awarded to diesel projects under the Government’s Capacity Market. This is expensive, slow and not very green. Energy prices and security of supply are top political priorities, but when it takes four years and a lot of money to build a power station, there needs to be a more efficient solution.
The good news is that Great Britain has a thriving energy technology sector with a vast portfolio of innovations that can step up to this immediate challenge. Open Energi, a dynamic UK tech firm, uses technology to link together more than 3,000 machines — like air conditioners in your local supermarket or the pumps moving our water — and switches these machines on or off during the day to make power available when it’s needed by consumers, or to store electricity after a big gust of wind. This technology is already installed at over 350 industrial and commercial sites across the UK including Sainsbury’s, Tarmac, Aggregate Industries, United Utilities and University of East Anglia. Developed right here in Britain, this is powerful technology. On cold winter evenings, it can function just like an entire nuclear plant. Demand flexibility is the first line of defence in an energy security crisis, which is characterised by successive power plant failures rather than a lack of supply.
But this ‘demand-side’ energy tech faces major barriers in UK energy markets. Companies like Open Energi cannot prequalify for the government Capacity Market and cannot compete directly against gas plants in the balancing mechanism. The fast, flexible power they provide is instead only accessible via monthly tenders and procurements. Faced with a national energy security crunch on one hand and with the tech needed to solve it bound only by markets that aren’t fit for purpose, there is an immediate opportunity to unleash competition. Unlike other energy projects, demand flexibility requires no state subsidy at all. All that we ask at Open Energi is that the regulations are updated to ensure ‘demand side’ (when we turn demand up and down) is given the same treatment as ‘supply side’ (when new power is generated) in the existing energy markets.
Deploying demand flexibility and storage at speed to solve an energy crunch at scale is a proven path. In 2015, Californian policymakers were faced with a shutdown at the state’s biggest gas storage facility, threatening peak shortages and blackouts. To solve this immediate challenge with an immediately available solution, policy-makers fast-tracked 64.5MW of electricity storage and approved $11.5 million for demand response and dynamic pricing. Energy storage projects were constructed in less than four months, compared to a previous average of three and a half years.
Applying the same market mechanisms in the UK could dramatically change the game for energy security on the GB grid as early as next winter. With over 1GW of energy storage prequalified for National Grid’s recent Enhanced Frequency Response tender, of which only 200MW was purchased, it’s clear we have the appetite from investors to bring innovation to market. The challenge now rests with policy makers to make regulation fit for purpose in a modern age of energy technology innovation.
Lucy Symons is the Director of Public Policy for @openenergi and recently travelled to California as part of a delegation of female founders leading some of the UK’s fastest growing tech firms.