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Electricity supply – the balancing act

Have you ever wondered how they make sure the UK has enough power supplied to it over the course of a day? Managing the grid means taking decisions to keep supply levels up, but not generating too much electricity – a fine balancing act. Modern technology means that extra electricity can be created at the push of a button, (and release of lots of water from a dam).

The electricity supply is obviously vital to the country, so it’s interesting to see this device that gauges the current state of the grid. Although as it states on the site – the ‘danger zones’ at either side are in reality much further away  = they’ve just been squeezed in so that you can see that they’re there.

Renewable energy in the mix, but how much?

The next few years are going to see some big changes in the way we produce energy, as less and less will be produced by carbon emitting means. At the moment it’s unclear as to what extent nuclear power will form part of the UK’s energy mix – there are signs that nuclear power stations will be built, although the main thing to remember is that the first priority should be to lower carbon emissions.

UK renewable energy companies have shown commitment to the renewables sector and with continued commitment from government it’s likely that renewables will keep growing – the technology will advance over tome and get cheaper. One day, perhaps even in this century, we’ll wave bye bye to the atom.

Electricity interactivity

Further to my earlier post about smart meters, it now looks like most of the big companies are now offering these devices. Hopefully people will be as enthusiastic about them as I am. Getting interactive with your electricity supply and making some savings should become, if not a hobby exactly, then at least a way of saving a few bob without having to go to too much effort. If only my washing machine wasn’t in earshot of the bedroom, otherwise I’d be setting it to do its washy magic in the middle of the night, during the the off-peak.

Electricity suppliers UK and worldwide are taking a brave step in introducing smart metering, since it means that in all likelihood people will hopefully be more energy efficient – but in the long run it will be good for business as clarity for the consumer is always a good thing in terms of business sustainability. And there’s a string chance that electricity use will rise at the expense of petrol, when all the new electric cars hit the road in a few months. Without smart metering it would be much more of an effort to gauge how much your electric car was costing to run, but with the new systems it will be easy enough.

Electricity metering hits the 21st Century

That old box above a doorway, the one with the metal spinning disc in it? It’s on its way out as we enter an age where our energy consumption requires more info than simply:

Oh look – the metal disc is spinning at 78rpm, the washing machine and tumble dryer are switched on and doing their thing, the kids are playing Scalextric and Xbox while listening to music at loud volume, and I’ve just plugged in the lawnmower.

Yes – these new devices will actually be able to warn you when you’re burning through too much juice, and you can even set them to say how much money’s worth of energy is being used, so you can get on with saving.

I’m pretty excited about this new type of home energy device, so I’ll be returning to the theme soon. Watch this space.

British Summer

Ahhh. Torrential rain, no sunshine and it’s cold. Must be the British summer. And even skinflints like me at this time of the year start looking at the central heating controls and getting tempted to give the living room a blast.

But before you think about getting all cosy in front of the telly with the radiators a-radiating it’s probably best to have a think about where the heat actually goes. Apparently without the proper insulations, a quarter of it goes through the roof. Insulation can mean real savings year on year so it’w well worth checking out what deals are available, and whether there may be government help you might be eligible for.

If your boiler needs replacing, now is probably also the time to think about getting it done. It’s one thing being inconvenienced for a day or two in  August, but by mid-December even a half day without heating or hot water could be a serious drag.

Applying Eco-Logic in the home #1 electricity and cooking

With the constant (welcome) stream of news about green initiatives, green cars, green public transport, green energy in general, it’s suprising that we never hear about green cookers for the home.

For myself, I’ve been trying for a while now to apply some Eco-Logic in the home. Recycling’s become second nature, and I’ve discovered some new practical tricks as well, such as the lightbulb moment when I realised that 40-60° Celsius for clothes washing pretty much applied to yesteryear when folks would wear clothes for a longer period of time between each wash. I’ve found a 30° wash is perfectly adequate for most stuff.

So far, so good, and with savings too. Since banning the use of the tumble dryer and only using full loads in the washing machine (along with some other changes) I’ve managed to get my leccie bill down by an amazing 35%.

But cooking’s one area that never really gets mentioned. And it always annoys me when using an electric hob that it takes ages to heat up and ages to cool down. I’m currently using a ceramic hob and it definitely heats up and cools down quicker, which is good. Oven use I’ve managed to cut down to virtually zero, apart from the (very) occasional roast.

But what I’d like to know is, when are we going to see manufacturers of home cooking appliances really get stuck in and start promoting products with real Eco-Logic built in?

Electricity suppliers now provide info on their green activities, car companies and supermarkets likewise. C’mon cooker people – join the party!

Nuclear subsidy.

Chris Huhne said in an interview at the weekend that wind power will be favoured over nuclear in terms of subsidies, according to Bloomberg.

Raises some interesting questions, this. For instance, does it bode well for the coalition given that the Conservatives are generally more pro-nuclear? Or is it just a general move towards renewables?

With more and more utilities providers getting on board as regards renewables, it could be that wind power will one day be a major source of power in the UK. After all, the UK isn’t known for its calm weather, what with it being an island and all.

The green energy sector will, I think, continue to grow regardless. In the West, at least. But the problem with predicting the future is that the future hasn’t happened yet. Clean power must surely be one of mankind’s collective goals though.

Is It Really Worth It?

The Future Of Driving?

Mitsubishis new car release is a tad different to your normal 300 break horse power machine that you would usually see flying past you on the motorway. There bringing out one of the first new zero-emissions all-electric car, the i MiEV. Available for no less than sixty-two grand and the worst of it there only available on lease at the moment so you would be giving it straight back.

To be honest there hardly available at all at the moment with only around a dozen being brought over for the government to use for advertisement into the future. It’s everyone’s dream to have a car that doesn’t need filled up with petrol everyone day and definitely a great addition to the future.

Even though your petrol bill would be gone with one of these cars cheap electricity bills would be a thing of the past since you would have to charge your car over night to keep it up and running. The car is built up with a solar array on your roof.

It sounds like a great idea but I don’t really know would people actually change to this? Let’s be honest it all comes down to the price you’re going to pay and wither your actually saving any money due to the fact your electricity bill would shoot through the roof!

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?