Switching suppliers
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Date: 03 November, 2005

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'Learn the myths and truths about saving energy.'

Suzanne Elvidge on switching suppliers (and saving the planet).

Once upon a time (now I’m showing my age), you got your electricity from the electricity board and your gas from the gas board. Now you can get your gas from the electricity people and your electricity from telecoms companies (always makes me feel like holding the phone against the kettle to see if it will make it boil).

Changing supplier can save you money, and could even have an impact on the environment. The Government’s Renewables Obligation requires electricity suppliers to source specified percentages of the electricity they supply from renewable sources. The percentage target is set to increase each year from a level of 4.9 per cent in 2004/05 to reach 10.4 per cent by 2010/11. However, there are some companies that have a greater focus on the environment, for example npower Juice — and it could still save you money too.

Where do you start?

There are a range of websites out there that will help you compare your current bill and what you could save, eg:

Look out for websites that follow the Energywatch code of conduct. There are some dodgy brokers out there.

Are there any other solutions?

Microgrids can be a way of generating electricity locally (a vast amount of energy is lost piping electricity over long distances).

You could generate your own electricity, heat and light. To find out more about renewable energy, see the Guardian’s special report.

On the other hand, you could just not use so much in the first place.

There are loads of ways to save energy, and these will reduce our environmental impact:

  • Using thermostats (and turning them down — reducing by 1°C reduces your bill by 10%)
  • Fitting an efficient condensing boiler if you use gas, or modern electric storage heaters if you are in an all-electric home
  • Choosing "A" rated appliances (such as fridges and washing machines)
  • A few no cost tips too - move your furniture away from radiators to allow heat to circulate; dry washing naturally rather than using a tumble drier; switch lights off (too many cracks from my father about the house looking like Blackpool illuminations); switch the TV off rather than using ‘standby.’

Good luck (and the last one out switch the computer and light off).

Suzanne Elvidge is the editor of www.echurchactive.net, effective use of technology for the church.


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