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 World’s End 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.
Britain’s Broken Broadband and Energy Network
As global demand for electricity grows, are there alternatives to building more power stations which make smarter use of existing infrastructure? And in an industry renowned for high levels of consumer mistrust, could an Airbnb of energy finally deliver a consumer-centric energy market?
Technology is shaping our lives like never before, making our world smarter, more efficient and more connected. In the last decade, it has fuelled an explosion of sharing economy business models — adopted by the likes of Uber, Airbnb and Zipcar — who in just a few short years have revolutionised established industries. But can a sharing economy approach help to tackle one of man-kind’s greatest challenges and deliver clean, affordable and secure energy to all?
Sharing economies are a consumer-led phenomenon which work by exploiting excess capacity or inefficiencies in existing systems for mutual benefit. Take Airbnb for example. The wasted asset is your property and the excess capacity is the space you are not using. By creating a user-friendly platform and giving homeowners the security they need Airbnb have built the biggest hotel chain in the world, surpassing the Intercontinental Group in less than four years. They have achieved this because they haven’t needed to construct a single thing.
So how could this apply to the energy industry? As global demand for electricity grows, are there alternatives to building more power stations which make smarter use of existing infrastructure? And in an industry renowned for high levels of consumer mistrust, could an Airbnb of energy finally deliver a consumer-centric energy market?
Since the world’s first power station was built in 1882 the global energy system has worked on the basis that supply must follow demand. Consumers — businesses and households — have been passive users of power, paying to use what they want when they want, whilst electricity supply has adapted to ensure the lights stay on. This has created inefficient systems built for periods of peak demand — in the UK this is typically between 4–7pm on a cold winter evening — which most of the time are massively underused.
But this is no longer the case. Today, our ability to connect and control anything from anywhere means we can manage our demand for electricity in previously unimaginable ways, and consumers are emerging as a driving force for change.
By connecting everyday equipment to a smart platform (just as you might upload your property to Airbnb), it’s now possible for consumers to take advantage of small amounts of “flexible demand” in their existing assets and processes — be it a fridge, a water pump, or an office air con unit — and sell it to organisations tasked with keeping the lights on — like National Grid.
Applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to govern when and for how long assets may respond gives consumers confidence their equipment’s performance will not be affected, and in return for sharing their “flexible demand”, they benefit from cost savings or direct payments.
This sharing economy approach relies on the power of tech and our ability to orchestrate many thousands of consumer devices at scale. Any one piece of equipment can only make small changes to the timing of its electricity consumption — e.g. delaying when a fridge motor comes on for a few minutes during a spike in electricity demand at the end of a football match — but collectively, the impact is transformational.
It means that when electricity demand is greater than supply, we don’t need to fire up fossil-fuelled power stations. Instead, we can reduce demand by asking non-time critical assets to power down for a short while.
If the wind is blowing and too much electricity is being supplied, we don’t need to let this clean, abundant power go to waste, but can ask equipment to shift its demand and make use of this power as it is available.
And we don’t need to keep building more power stations to meet occasional peaks in demand. Instead, we can distribute demand more intelligently throughout the day, reducing the size of these peaks and making better use of existing capacity.
In the UK, Open Energi’s analysis suggests there is 6 gigawatts of peak demand which can be shifted for up to an hour without impacting end users. Put into context, this is equivalent to roughly 10% of peak winter demand and larger than the expected output of the planned Hinkley Point C — the UK’s first new nuclear power station in generations.
This doesn’t make it easy. Unlike other sharing economy success stories, energy is a public good. The need for incredibly robust solutions means the barriers to entry are high. But, if we can get it right, the prize is enormous; a cleaner, cheaper, more secure energy system which gives consumers control of how, when, and from where they consume their energy.
Businesses have already recognised the power they hold and the benefits it can bring, with the likes of Sainsbury’s, Tarmac, United Utilities and Aggregate Industries adopting the tech and demonstrating what’s possible. Households look set to follow, but wherever the flexibility comes from, it’s clear that consumers and the environment will benefit from a sharing economy approach to energy.
David Hill is strategy director of Open Energi. He is an expert on electricity markets and demand-side flexibility, including demand-side response and energy storage. He joined Open Energi in 2010 after completing an MSc Energy, Trade & Finance at Cass Business School.