Energy Use

Saving energy makes an impact to your personal finances as well as the future of our planet. Below are just seven cost effective ideas for how we can reduce our own personal energy consumption – some or all of which you may have already carried out in your own flat. All these ideas have been tried and tested in the Barbican – and where possible we have attempted to quantify the energy savings.

  1. Fit a smart energy monitor so you can see how much energy you are using. For example an OWL monitor clips neatly around the incoming electricity cable and should fit in most fuse cupboards. Power consumption is displayed on a wireless screen. OWLs cost about £40 and help you to identify power guzzling appliances. A review of smart meter usage at one of our towers can be found here.
  2. Fix a timer to your water heater. These cost about £25 – 40 and are easy to fit. Programme it to come on for 2 hours just before you have your bath or shower – so you are not using energy heating water up and leaving it to cool down before it’s used. Leaving water heaters on 24/7 is very expensive and also reduces the life of the heating element.
  3. Turn down your water thermostat until you don’t need to add cold water to your shower – there’s no point in heating water and then diluting it! The thermostat control is at the bottom of your hot water tank. Getting the right temperature is trial and error. Make sure you switch off the heater before you remove the protective cover. It is possible to cut your energy consumption by up to 20% by using a timer and reducing your thermostat. In the case of one tower block flat this amounted to the equivalent of saving about half a tonne of CO² emissions a year – approximately the equivalent of driving 1,400 miles in a petrol engined car. Cost saving p.a. £125 (based on 2 persons showering once a day).
  4. Fit energy saving light bulbs – not everyone’s cup of tea – but modern compact florescent bulbs are 60-80% more efficient that incandescent bulbs. LEDs are even more efficient and can give a range of light qualities.
  5. Set an eco power management regime on your computer. We may hate turning off our PC, but running a computer and ancillaries 24/7 can use up to 4 kilowatts a day. Setting the power regime to an energy saving setting can make big savings over a year. For example, you can set your monitor and hard disks to turn off after a certain period of inactivity and for the system to go into standby or system hibernation if there is no further activity. Potential cost savings assuming an 8-hour day of activity £70 p.a.
  6. Turn it off. Try to be aware of unnecessary lights left on, and appliances left plugged-in or on standby. Nearly all electrical and electronic appliances can safely be turned off at the plug without upsetting their systems – some satellite and digital TV recorders may need to be left plugged in so they can keep track of any programmes you want to record. You could save between £45 and £80 a year just by remembering to turn off appliances left on standby.
  7. Careful in the kitchen. You can save over £43 a year just by being careful how you use your kitchen appliances. The following tips can help you reach this saving:
    • Set your washing machine to wash at 30°C.
    • Using a bowl to wash up rather than leaving the hot tap running.
    • Don’t fill your kettle right up every time – just boil the amount of water you need.