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Cheap Electricity - A Guide to Energy Saving Gadgets

Sean O'Meara 08/11/2013 15:20:17

Cheap Electricity - A Guide to Energy Saving Gadgets

Energy Saving Gadgets

Paul Murphy, founder and director of Intecho, providers of home automation systems, knows a thing or two about energy-saving gizmos, but he believes some very basic changes can have a big impact on energy usage, before you start looking into gadgets.

"Heating and hot water are commonly the biggest users of energy followed by lighting, so the more accurately you can control them the more you’ll save on your bills. Consider switching to LED lighting. LEDs use less electricity than standard bulbs and can help to reduce bills if it’s not possible to cut costs on heating. Perhaps one of the most significant things you can do is to take more notice of your energy bills, so you can track any changes and adjust your energy use to help make savings. If you can measure it, you can control it."

Energy-Saving Light Bulbs

Energy-saving light bulbs, or Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFL) to give them their proper name, are fairly ubiquitous. They're the modern alternative to incandescent bulbs, but use between 20 and 30 percent less energy. Energy-saving bulbs are more expensive to purchase, sometimes 10 times more expensive than their non-efficient alternatives, but the savings are two-fold.

Not only do they last longer, so you eventually spend less on purchase costs, they use less electricity too.

Pros

Energy saving.

Longer lasting.

Replacements are required much less frequently, so you spend less time standing on a chair fiddling with the light fitting.

Cons

Contain mercury, so you must dispose of them safely.

More expensive to purchase.

 

Wireless Energy MeterWireless Electricity Meters

Wireless electricity meters are easy to install, require no rewiring and display your energy usage and spend in real-time. This means you can - and will - adjust your energy consumption habits based on what you see.

No tools are required, just clip the meter to the live wire coming out of your household electricity meter and it transmits the data to the display, which you can place anywhere you like, provided it's within range. The wireless range varies between devices, but is typically around 25-meters.

Once installed, the meter displays your consumption and the real-time cost. So if you turn off any idle devices, you will see your pence per hour consumption rate drop.

Pros

Can be acquired for free when switching energy provider.

Electricity meters can help you identify the biggest sources of energy wastage.

Easy to install.

Real-time data.

Cons

They don't actually cut your usage, just provide a consumption guide.

 

Related Articles

Ten Ways to Cut Your Energy Bills from John Lewis

4 Ways to Generate Your Own Energy

Understanding Your Gas Bill - What is a Standing Charge?

 

 

Solar LampsSolar Lamps

Unless you have a dimmer switch, you need to temper the glow of your current light bulbs in order to achieve mood lighting, typically achieved by using coloured bulbs or lamp shades. Although this creates a duskier environment, you are still using the same amount of energy.

By charging a few solar lamps during the day, you have a readymade supply of mood lighting for the evening. These are ideal for garden use on summer evenings or in the house when the glare of full-on wall lightings just isn't what you want.

Pros

Free light after purchase.

Atmospheric, muted ambience without dimmer switches.

Cons

You have to remember to charge these in advance of use.

More Information on Energy Saving Gadgets

Alert Me Smart Monitoring

Insulation Foil

Sun Jar Solar Lamp

Solar Charger


Sun Jar Solar Lamps

Standb Saver ImageStandby Savers

In the UK, we waste an estimated £740 Million worth of energy by leaving power-hungry appliances on standby, according to the Energy Saving Trust. In fact, if you left a mobile phone charger plugged in for a year it would use up enough energy to run a bath. That's even without connecting the charger to your phone.

Standby savers, marketed under a variety of names including Standby Saver and Sava Socket, detect when an appliance is in standby mode. The device then shuts off the mains power to the device, effectively "unplugging" it from the wall.

These devices normally take the form of four-way power adapters, so all you need to do is connect it to the mains supply and plug in your equipment. The Sava Socket even detects when your mobile is fully charged and shuts off the mains supply accordingly.

Pros

Cuts electricity bills.

Reduces carbon emissions.

Cons

Not suitable for all appliances that enter "sleep" mode when idle. Some appliances may power down if you leave them for a prolonged period.

Alert Me Smart Monitoring

Alert Me WomanThis computer application lets you do much more than monitor your consumption. It lets you control your consumption, even if you're out of the house. By hooking up the Smart Monitoring system to your house, you can control the heating, the lights and even the alarm from your computer. Fully customisable, Alert Me enables you to keep tabs on everything and make changes accordingly. On holiday in Spain and it's snowing at home? Turn the heating on for two hours a day to keep the pipes from cracking.

If your consumption increases beyond a pre-determined threshold, you'll receive a text alert. In fact, you can configure Alert Me to issue updates when people enter or leave the house or turn on the heating. You can even install a camera to monitor the house in your absence.

Pros

Remote control of all household appliances

Real time energy monitoring

Cons

£149.99 - so quite pricey

Recurring £4.99 membership fee

Alert Me Smart Monitoring

Shower Water Regulators


Showerhead2Water flow regulators can be retrofitted to almost any non-electrical shower, enabling you to reduce the flow to no more than 6-litres-per-minute, in line with government guidelines. This cuts water use and running costs, reducing bills and your carbon footprint.

Pros

Saves water.

Saves electricity.

Easy to install.

Cons

Reduces water flow, so if your shower is weak to start with, this could reduce it to a dribble.

Can't be fitted to electric showers.

EcoFlap


Letter Box Eco FlapIf you experience an unpleasant draught in windy weather, despite using a draught-excluder, it's quite likely that your letter box is the culprit. The brushes in your letter box, which are designed to block draughts, get worn out over time. The EcoFlap fits neatly over the letter box without interfering with the function - you can fit a copy of the Yellow Pages through an EcoFlap - and cuts out all draughts. It also stops the letter box from rattling in high winds.

Pros

Conserves heat and reduces draughts.

Easy to install.

Cons

Made of plastic and not particularly attractive, especially on wooden doors.

RadiatorRadiator Foil

Radiator foil features the same material used in the heat insulation blankets you see marathon runners wearing at the end of a race. By fitting it to the wall behind your radiator, you reflect heat from the rear of the radiator back into the room, reducing wastage and the need to keep the heating on for longer.

in general is an efficient means of keeping heat from escaping.

Pros

Reduces energy bills.

Enables rooms to heat up quicker.

Cons

Can be fiddly to install.

The futuristic tin foil look may not complement all design schemes, so ensure it is neatly fitted to keep it invisible.

Insulation Foil

Solar Chargers

Solar ChargerUniversal solar chargers, such as the Power Monkey and Freeloader, let you charge almost any electrical device using the sun's rays. Simply leave the charger on a window ledge (or outside on a hot day) in order to charge, then use the stored electricity to power up your mobile, iPad or MP3 player.

Pros

Cuts energy usage and saves money.

Super handy for camping, festivals or for use abroad.

Cons

Potentially expensive investment; the Power Monkey costs around £64.

Some models need to be dismantled to make them portable, quite fiddly if on a train or in the car.

Solar Chargers

 

Sean O'Meara is editor of Watchmywallet.co.uk

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