01 We spend more on electricity than gas
We use three times as much gas as electricity — but electricity costs more than three times as much, so on average our electricity bills are fractionally higher than our gas bills — and the same applies to carbon emissions. Our heating energy usage is decreasing, but our electricity consumption continues to rise.
02 Standby isn’t an issue for new equipment
EU regulations came into force at the start of 2010 requiring household appliances to use less than 1W on standby, or 2W where there is a status display. 1W means 8.8kWh/year which costs only about £1 (at current prices). However, these rules do not apply to office equipment so watch out if you’re buying a new laser printer.
03 Bigger means more energy (usually)
For computers it’s speed, for TVs and fridges, it’s size. An A+ fridge can use more energy than an A-rated fridge that is 30% smaller. So it’s best to buy a fridge suited to your normal needs and use the garage for overflow chill space for parties. But size isn’t always the overriding factor. You can find 42-inch LED TVs consuming anything from 70W to 180W (according to energy comparison website www.youreko.com) and you don’t have to pay more up front for lower running costs.
04 The vacuum cleaner uses more power than a TV
The vacuum cleaner uses more power than a TV. A typical vacuum cleaner will use 1kW, so cleaning the house consumes 10 times more power than watching TV (an excellent excuse if ever there was one.) No wonder cleaning is such hot work!
05 Steam is good for the bath but not for the house
Heating water for a bath can easily consume 5kWh (either gas or electricity), and some people will recommend you get that back by leaving the water to cool down afterwards. This will help heat up your house, but it leaves the room steamy which can contribute to condensation problems. However, if you have MVHR (mechanical ventilation with heat recovery) installed then this will extract the steam and recycle the warmth so your luxurious soak will cost you almost nothing.
These are some of the facts and figures covered in Energy and carbon emissions: the way we live today a new book by Nicola Terry. It is published by UIT Cambridge and costs £9.99