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Fracking Movie Set to Highlight Issues

For those of you in the dark the UK Government have started to approve a method of shale gas extraction commonly known as “fracking”. Ministers believe that this method of energy will create a newer energy industry and will have the ability to drive down gas prices for energy users in the UK. The ecological effects that fracking causes can be huge and there is pressure from groups around the UK pleading with government to halt the plans that are in progress.

Coincidentally there is now a movie been produced starring actor Matt Damon which highlights the issues associated with fracking and the impact it has on communities. I have attached the trailer to give you an overview of the film and tells you more about what it is about.

Don’t forget to leave a comment and tell us what you think!

Questions to ask when switching gas and electricity supplier

Whilst your current energy supplier may be able to offer you the best deal possible, if you find that you must switch supplier there are a few questions that you should ask yourself before choosing your new tariff.

power switch

Switching on to another supplier?

What is my actual energy usage pattern?
Have a through look at your bills or energy meter if you have one – what is your energy usage? are you paying too much for what you use? Learning this is will help you to negotiate a new deal that will work more effectively for you.

Is there an energy tariff that is best for my needs?
Each gas and electricity company has a range of tariffs that can vary in price and type of service. For example,  it is almost always cheaper to choose an online tariff, paying by direct debit. However, as a result of government intervention there is a degree of tariff simplification occurring within the industry.

What is my bill payment method?
Most suppliers offer a range of payment options, the most common are; direct debit and quarterly but you can also get a pre-payment meter or pay weekly.

How is the company perceived by consumers?
There are many groups out there that regularly review the customer service of the big energy suppliers and interview customers. This means that they can supply accurate information regarding the level of service you can expect from each company. Which?, Consumer Focus and uSwitch are all excellent sources of information and help.

Hopefully these questions have given you an indication as how you can switch electricity and gas supplier and hopefully save yourself some money.

How green is your office?

Most offices in today’s working environment have made at least some kind of effort to go green and make their workplace a bit more energy efficient. But energy efficiency doesn’t just come from being frugal with your gas and electricity, it requires a larger commitment regarding a change in the daily working practice.

In order to help you on the way with your green crusade we have handily created a list of 5 simple things that any office can do to help lessen their impact on the environment.

1. The big switch off!
It is believed that these days around 60% of the energy used by office equipment could be wasted. This is due to little used items being left on standby and things generally just being left on during periods of no use.

2. Replace personal bins with a central bank of recycling bins.
Yeah, this idea as good as it is, isn’t going to help your popularity any. However once people get over the initial annoyance after a week or so it tends to just become part of the routine. Another positive is the regular short breaks it can provide which in some cases have been shown to increase productivity.

3. Get rid of the plastic cups.
If your office uses the plastic disposable cups, you guys are putting a serious amount of plastic in the landfills every month.
Here is some quick maths for you – 100 employees x 3 cups of tea/ coffee a day.
= 6000 plastic cups a month.
So switch your cups to recycled paper ones, buy mugs or even have people bring in their own mug. Mugs are obviously the best option as they will work out cheapest in the long run.

4. Reduce the use of paper.
With the integration of the internet and e-mail into just about every work place you really only need to print out the essentials and the sooner you encourage that kind of policy within your workplace the better it is for environment.
Another figure for you to consider is that your average worker uses 1,584 sheets of paper/month x 12 = 19,008 per employee, per year. That’s a lot of paper!

5. Take advantage of new communication methods.
Working from home has been shown to have a positive effect for both the employee and the business. Without having to commute there is less pollution and there is no time wasted in getting from A to B. Also Work Wise UK has carried out some research that shows working from home can help to greatly improve productivity.

Top tips for keeping the winter warm….

Ok, so the winter party season is upon us and we all know there’s not going to be much partying if all your money has been spent on heating your home. So to help out our faithful readership we’ve combined our favourite energy saving tips to try and keep your energy costs down as low as possible.

• You need to layer up.
Rather than whack the heating up high why not try putting on more layers. You’re actually better with more thin layers on than one thick layer. I would also invest in either some blankets for sitting around watching TV or better yet a Snuggie.
• Hot water bottles – They’re great.
They hold heat for ages and are cheap to buy. What I like to do is put a hot water bottle into my bed about 15 minutes before I intend to go and it’s always fantastically cosy for me by the time I get in.
• Timing is everything.
Timers are a great money saver – rather than leave the heating on all day so its warm for you coming home just set the timer to turn it on 1 hour before you get home. The house will be the same temperature and you’ll have spent 6 hours less on energy. You can also set it to come on an hour before you get up in the morning and again you’ll be lovely and cosy.
• It’s all about the thermostats.
It’s a well known fact that dropping the temperature on your thermostat by even 1°C is enough to save you 10% on your energy bills. However as a general rule you should always try and keep your thermostat between 18°C and 21°C for maximum efficiency.
• Sometimes a change is as good as a rest.
Finally…. switch gas and electricity supplier. Make sure you have done your research and chances are you’ll find a new supplier willing to offer you a better deal than the one your on now. The best bit is all you have to do is tell the company you want to switch to and they will take care of all the details you really won,t know its happened until your bills get cheaper.

Now whilst we know these tips aren’t going to save you a fortune we do hope that they will help your part fund last that little bit longer.

SSE – Still the customers choice

This year’s Energy Customer Satisfaction Awards held no real surprises with all of the ‘big six’ experiencing an overall drop in their customer satisfaction ratings. However this is almost certainly to be expected given that the year has been punctuated by rising energy costs and a number of fines for various incidents.

That being said out of all the companies SSE should still be extremely happy after coming top in no less than 8 out of 11 categories. Not to mention winning the coveted Overall Satisfaction Award for the 8th time in a row.

Eon managed to walk away with two of the awards: Reward schemes and Energy efficiency.

Whilst British gas managed to top the Online services survey.

To read the full article uSwitch Customer Satisfaction Awards 2011

The big freeze – energy management

The UK big freeze continues. After last week’s very low temperatures, there’s been a bit of respite, with the mercury hitting sweltering highs of 2 Celsius. Well, sweltering in comparison to last week’s minus 15 anyway.

Coping with the cold weather isn’t easy for anyone – getting to work, getting back from work, even going to the supermarket had become a challenge in the snow, especially when the snow froze all over the pavements causing real slip hazards.

Energy wise, even if you’re judicious with the central heating controls, this weather means that the heating is pretty much on all evening. If it’s a case of saving a bit of money on the bill versus sitting there shivering, I think we all know what the choice is.

But there are still ways to make sure that, even in the big freeze, we’re being energy efficient. The heating needs to be on, but it doesn’t need to be turned right up. Wearing layers of clothing means that the radiators won’t have to be all that hot – just hot enough to warm the room to an acceptable level. Then there are things you can also do, like not heating rooms that don’t need it.

I doubt that the gas bill will be as low as it was for the summer months – it never is – but by means of draft exclusion, warm clothing, and keeping an eye on which rooms need heated and which don’t, I hope to make sure that the gas bill isn’t too big when it drops on the mat sometime in February.

Given that electricity companies provide info on the amount of electricity used, it might be an idea to hold on to your bills or put the info on a spreadsheet so you can compare use year on year, and see where your highest energy use months are. Although if this year is anything to go by so far, it’s unlikely to compare to a winter where the temperatures remain mild. In which case, all the more reason to keep the draughts out and the warmth in.

Electricity and gas, the story so far.

You pick up the bill from the doormat, and read it. Hopefully your energy-saving regime has resulted in a few quid being shaved off the bill. You go on to direct banking, push a button and the bill is paid.

The system is so efficient that we barely think about it. But the energy we get from gas and electricity suppliers isn’t an easy or simple thing. Our energy comes from various sources including wind and wave power, nuclear power, and fossil fuels, some of which have been under land and sea for 650 million years.

The mix of renewables and fossil fuels is likely to change as time goes on, however, what with the talk of peak oil, and the possibility that climate change has been caused by burning the stuff. In all probability a thousand years from now they’ll have a lump of coal on display in every museum, each one worth thousands.

Will it ever be the right time to move time forward by an hour? Well I think it’s high time they did.

Proposed time changes, talked about for years but never acted upon, look like they are finally gaining some momentum. Actor and comedian David Mitchell expresses his opinion in this Guardian column . I think he’s right when he says that the changewill have ecological benefits due to decreased energy use.

What would happen? Well, clocks go forward by one hour, meaning that GMT would become GMT+1, and summer time would be GMT+2.

Although I do wonder how much of a difference this would make firther north, where it would surely be dark until 9am or later? But then I suppose the benefit is that it would get dark a bit later. Either way, the winter is cold and dark for the most part.

It will be interesting to see whether this time change actually ever takes place. I hope it does, if only for the novelty, and to see what electricity suppliers report in terms of differences in demand during the plus one winters and summers.

Evening could arrive an hour sooner, under new proposals.

Evening could arrive an hour sooner, under new proposals.

Lower Energy Bills…Or To Greedy?

Are We Spolied?

If there’s one thing everyone chasing it’s got to be lower electricity bills. Anyone you speak to wither it be your friends or family there’s a good chance they’ll moan about their energy bills at least one time over the week!

It seems to be a constant barricade of phone calls and letters from all these different energy company’s in the end up I actually get confused and forget what company I’m actually with! Then there’s the other side of the argument when you look to places like Africa and so on were actually very lucky of the big luxury’s like this we actually have.

What do you think? Is it us Brits are getting a bit greedy and expecting to much for a small price or are the bills really that high?

boiler scrappage – check the small print

When the government rolled out its scheme for Boiler Scrappage, we all thought: that’s a good idea. Then when the large companies followed suit, because they saw that it was a winner, we hardly considered it a bad thing.

Many of the power companies offered an extra £400 on top of the government’s £400,

But sometimes when they give with the right hand, they take with the left. I’ve been reading more and more stories in the press about dissatisfaction with some elements of these schemes.

When you dig a bit further though, it seems unfair to tar everyone with the same brush.

The problems seems that some of the companies’ are quoting very different prices for boilers than independent engineers have estimated the same boilers.

Not every company is playing this unfair game, so watch out when you’re looking to save yourself a couple of pennies this winter. Check around there are more than enough energy suppliers playing a fair game to stay clear of those that want to line their own pockets.