19 April 2013

Top 5 energy saving tips

1. The Day & Night Energy Plan 

The number one way to save energy and lower your electricity bill is to sign up for the Day & Night Energy Plan with your electricity supplier. It offers up to 50% off the standard rate for a unit of electricity for 14 hours of the day. Using your appliances wisely will knock euros off your electricity bill. 

What IBERDROLA don’t tell you

There are two types of Day & Night Energy Plan, the Home Plan and the Time-of-day Rates Plan. If you don’t stipulate which plan you want, you will automatically get put onto the Home Plan. Why? Because there is an insurance plan attached to the Home Plan. Bright Sparks choose the Time-of-day Rates Plan which has the cheapest rates. 

2. Conventional Storage Hot Water Tank

To use a timer or not to use a timer, that is the question! Whether it’s more economical to heat the water once a day or top up the heat as and when the temperature drops, something called “standby heat loss”. The latest generation of water tanks are very well insulated. A full tank of hot water will hold a good temperature even when switched off for twenty four hours. 

The most effective way to save money heating water

Bright Sparks on the Day & Night Energy Plan achieve considerable savings heating their water during the cheap rate times using a timer. If you replace your water tank, install one with high thermal resistance to minimize the standby heat loss. Turn the thermostat down a tad; you probably don’t need the water to be as hot as it is currently set at. Select a shower head with a lower flow rate and only fill the kettle with the amount of water that you need when making a brew. 

3. Heating 

Appliances that provide heat or have heating elements are the number one consumer of electricity in the home, portable heaters being high up in the energy consumption stakes. When considering how to heat your home, choose heaters that takes advantage of the cheap rate offered with the Day & Night Energy Plan, like the Gabarron ADS night storage heater (pictured left). With this type of heater you’re basically getting heating for half price. 

What they don’t tell you at the electrical store

Using two or more portable electric heaters rated at three kilowatts will probably cause an overload to your electrical system. 

4. Air Conditioning

After heating, refrigeration is next on the list for high energy consumption. For a low energy efficient system you need a air conditioning unit with an inverter. The inverter is used to control the speed of the compressor motor to allow continuously regulated temperature, it works on a principle like a thermostat with a brain. By contrast, traditional air conditioners regulate temperature by using a compressor that is periodically either working at maximum capacity or switched off entirely. When purchasing an air conditioning unit (plus any white goods) use the energy efficiency certificate on display to make comparisons. Generally, you will find the cheapest units are the least efficient. With air conditioning units you get what you pay for in the energy consumption stakes. 

But Sparks, what about rentals? They leave the air conditioning on 24/7

There are a few options available on the market to prevent air con abuse. Fitting a card or coin meter is the most common method. I prefer the Airconomy system which works in the same way as a hotel key card system. 

5. Lighting

Replace light bulbs with low energy lamps. To help spread the cost, let the bulbs complete their life circle, then replace them as they blow. LED lamps are the most efficient achieving an energy saving of up to 80-90%. They are followed by CFLs that offer around a 60-70% saving, then the new generation of halogen lamps that look similar to traditional light bulbs, with a 30-40% energy saving. 

What they don’t tell you at the ferreteria

CFLs have a tendency to blow if switched on and off a lot. This is because they are fitted with a small transistor that can be a little erratic (a bit like Mrs Sparks).

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