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 Kenton 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.
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.
How to generate ElectricityLucy 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.