General ramblings

Our Energy Saving Journey

It’s the Summer Holidays, which fill me with a mixture of anticipation and mild dread. 
Trying to squeeze in blogging and all things Make Do and Mend-able at the same time as trying to entertain and referee two small boys is a challenge.
So here is lovely hubby to the rescue with couple of posts to keep the blog wheels turning..!

This first one is one he wrote for me a little while ago, all about a couple of pretty awesome gadgets we’ve installed to help us on our quest to use less energy.
Over to hubby:

Last year we entered The Great Energy Race for the Observer Ethical Awards (there’s a round up post here of all the things we did!).
It really made us all (Big small too) think about how we could save energy and it was fascinating to try some really simple ideas.
One of my favourites was filling a mug for a cup of tea and just pouring that into the kettle (we scientifically proved that this was more efficient..!)

Kettle and pud2
Some were a little more extreme, and I’ll admit have fallen by the wayside, filling a thermos with boiling water to make multiple cups of tea throughout the day for instance….

Now we didn’t win the race but we have still implemented some energy saving gadgets (now we’re talking….) since it finished and I’d like to tell you about two of them, that we found out about during the Race as part of our research.

First up is the Chop Cloc. This ingenious little Device was invented by Garry Stewart in the UK, and is so simple its not true.

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 16.56.22
It is basically a timer which overrides you central heating timer and turns the heating off for a set period in every hour. When the heating comes on it will heat up the house for a preset time, say 90 minutes, then the Chop Cloc will start chopping. For every subsequent hour the heating is on it will turn the boiler off for a preset time of between 15 & 45 minutes so it is not running constantly. Take it from me you really don’t notice that it is doing this or that the house is any colder. We have had ours set at a 30 minute chop all winter and have not noticed at all. You can read about it in more detail here. It has definitely paid for itself already and will now start to rack up the real savings

The other device we installed was a Solar iBoost.
For anyone with solar panels this is an absolute must have.
Any energy you do not use from solar panels as it is generated is exported straight to the national grid so we were always looking for ways to maximize our usage when the sun was shining. This is where the iBoost comes in. If we are generating more than we are using then the iBoost takes the excess and diverts it to the immersion to heat in the hot water tank. This means that from April to October we only used gas to heat our water about a dozen times as the rest of the time we had free hot water from our panels. Ingeniously the iBoost will cut out if there is a bigger draw on the solar energy, if the oven came on for instance.

Savings compared to costs can be hard to quantify but here is what we have found…..

The Chop Cloc & iBoost bought and installed cost us £425.
(We were very kindly given a Chop Cloc by Garry, with no expectation that we say nice things about it. But it works, so we are!)

 The iBoost has saved us 1250kWh of energy which equates to about £190 over the 12 months since it was installed and on a sunny winters day we still got free hot water.

But here is the really cool thing; our gas bill has dropped from £60 to £13 a month and we were still in credit at the end of the winter. Now it will be interesting to see if it stays at this level, I think £25 may be more realistic, but even so that would be a saving of £420 a year.

Energy saving1

For the year we have had the iBoost and Chop Cloc in tandem we have saved £730 compared to the previous year. When we factor in the costs of setting both systems up, this still leaves us with a saving of £305!!
Whoop Whoop!

Not only have we saved money, but it has been (genuinely) interesting to look back at out gas and electricity bills and see the noticeable decrease in our usage. 
I love that we are able to meet a significant proportion of our energy needs with clean, solar energy, from our own roof.
*Big smiley emoticon*

I have to say, that I was a little sceptical about both of these ‘gadgets’ when hubby first discovered them. But having seen the maths, and not been any colder than normal (!) I am converted. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the i-boost is one my favourite gadgets and it is not unknown for me to race upstairs at the end of a sunny day to excitedly peer into the airing cupboard and see how much energy we have saved that day…!

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  • Reply Greener Family August 17, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    So inspiring !
    We will enter a panel to study our consomption to try to save energy. By the way, we will also probably move from our national electric company (79% nuclear based) to a full sustainable energy company
    Let’s see

    • Reply Jen August 31, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      Brilliant, that’s great news!

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