How hares, tortoises and chameleons can help you save money on your electricity bill

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All you need is an energy monitor (rumour has it these Solo II and Minim+ ones are rather good!) some tortoises, hares and a few chameleons. Not sure about the animals? Don’t worry, just an energy monitor will do fine for now!

Finding the tortoises, hares and chameleons in your home

These animals refer to the three different types of electrical appliances all of us have squirrelled away (last animal reference, sorry) in our homes.

Now you’ve met the animal alter egos of these appliances, it’s time to get their energy use patterns under control with the help of your trusty energy monitor. We’re going to call this your IHD (in-home display) from now on.

Tackling the tortoises

Did you know that in many homes tortoises (also known as your background load) make up around 50% of your energy bill?

Let’s break this down. One watt of electricity on 24hrs a day costs about £1.20 a year. This means that a 40W load (here’s looking at you Mr Clock Radio left on in the spare bedroom) could be costing you up to £50 a year. Here’s how to take on (and win against) those tortoises.

1. Switch off any appliances (including your fridge/freezer) as you would if you were going to bed or work.

2. Record the load (W/kW) shown on your IHD – probably around 200W.

3. Now, go round your home and switch off everything else. How low can you go on the IHD? You should be able to get to zero.

4. Then switch only the things you really need back on (not your fridge/freezer though) and record the load on the IHD.

5. Look at the difference between the two readings. Every 1W you have reduced = more than £1 a year saved.

Getting the hares under control

This is a bit more difficult than what we did to measure tortoises. You’ll need to repeat each of these 5 steps for every hare in your home.

1. Find a hare. Let’s take Ms Tumble Dryer for example. Before you put in a normal load and switch her on, make a quick note of what your energy consumption figure (kWh) is on your IHD.

2. When the cycle’s finished, switch it off and record the new consumption reading. Take the first figure away from the second to see just how much electricity it’s used.

3. Now for the hard bit! Work out how often you use your tumble drier and how much electricity it uses by multiplying the number of uses by the consumption figure you’ve just calculated.

4. Think about how much you could reduce the amount you use your tumble dryer by. If you use it 3 times a week but could cut this down to 2 this works out at about a 30% reduction. Times the annual energy usage by this % then multiply this figure by the cost of a unit of electricity – around 14 pence. Hey presto – this is how much you could save on this one appliance!

5. Now do the same with all your other hares and see just how much you could save if you pledged to reduce the number of times you used these appliances.

Controlling those chameleons

Finally the chameleons. For this, all you need do is repeat the steps you’ve just done to work out your hares’ energy use – and how much you could save by cutting back on using these appliances.

How we’ve helped customers save money on their energy bills

Need further proof of the power of energy monitors in tackling energy bills? Here’s one of our favourite stories of IHDs in action.

This Cambridgeshire couple bought one of our IHDs and couldn’t understand why they weren’t able to get their background load below 180W. It was only when they checked the loft that they found three 60W light bulbs on. This was in June – and the last time they’d been in the loft was to put their Christmas decorations away 6 months earlier!

It was frustrating to think that leaving the lights on for that amount of time would’ve cost us £100. But we were pleased that our energy monitor helped us discover this before it cost us a further £100!

So, are energy monitors useful? You bet they are! And they can easily save more than the amount they cost you. We’d love to hear what you think. Why not pop your energy-saving stories and tips in the box below?