On 20 October 2020, we held our first virtual Planet Woking talk on the theme “Home”. Almost 50 residents joined us online to find out how making changes to our everyday activities at home can contribute to a sustainable Borough. Energy and water use; the amount of waste we produce; how we shop; and our health and well-being all have an impact. By making small changes, we can all help contribute to a more sustainable, healthier and more economical lifestyle for families and individuals and a greener future for Woking. We were joined by Jen Gale, author of The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide, and Wendy Wakenshaw, Woking resident and founder of the Imperfect Footprints website, who gave inspiring presentations and shared tips and advice on sustainable living. You can find out more about Jen and Wendy and download a copy of their presentation slides from the Planet Woking website here.
Following the presentations, we chatted with attendees to find out about their own experiences of living greener, answer any questions, and gather ideas to share through Planet Woking.
Morgan, 58, living in Pyrford, inspired us all with his practical energy efficiency advice. Here he shares his top tips for reducing energy use and improving energy efficiency – perfect as we enter the winter season!
These tips might not work for everyone, but I have found them useful in making me more aware of my energy use, giving me more control over my heating and hot water, and controlling my energy costs. Hopefully you might find something in here that works for you. Obviously the usual advice about double glazing, insulation applies, but these are extra ideas, should you wish to be more pro-active:
- Install a Hive heating control, pictured left and available at www.hivehome.com (other heating controls are available!). This comprises a control unit which is wired in to your boiler to replace your central heating timer (by a professional or yourself if you’re confident at DIY), a hub to connect to the internet (plugs into your router), and a wireless thermostat which you can place wherever you spend your time. The smartphone app allows you to tailor central heating and water heating to up to six periods a day, 7 days a week to fit around your schedule, with instant boost available either on the app or the thermostat. For the technically-minded, you can use events to control heating (e.g. when you leave the house it turns off) or purchase extra gadgets such as bulbs and plugs to set security lighting up, or welcome you home, detect movement, add cameras etc. I have found that having more control tends to mean I use the heating less and I just boost it when it gets chilly for example. Cost: Between £100-£200 depending upon offers.
- Install Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRV). These can be used to individually control the radiators in different rooms. For example if you prefer to have your bedroom cooler, or you have a spare room which doesn’t need heating when kids are away or guests aren’t visiting. The standard sort are about £10-15 each, and need a plumber to fit. You can get Hive ones (see above) for about £45 each which then work with the app and allow you to set individual schedules and termperatures per room.
- For those with Solar Photovoltaic Panels who export spare electricity to the grid and who also have a hot water tank with an immersion heater, you might consider IMMERSUN (https://www.immersun.co.uk/). This device diverts spare electricity to heat water in your tank using your immersion heater. I have found that in the summer months I can generally turn off my gas water heating and have enough hot water. The payback on this might be quite long though (10-15 years) if you usually heat your water with gas. It will be quicker if you normally heat water with electricity.
- Swap to LED bulbs. These have dropped in price, especially if you shop online, and significant savings can be made. For example, a kitchen with six halogen downlighters (50watts each) used for 5 hours a day over a year, with electricity at 14.5p per unit, has a running cost of £79. If you replaced those bulbs with 4w LEDs, the running cost reduces significantly to £6.50. LEDs typically also last longer, so this saving will continue year on year, so this is a no-brainer. Although please note, if you have low-voltage lighting you may need new drivers (transformers) compatible with LED bulbs.
- The nerdy option: Create a spreadsheet, set a reminder and take your meter readings weekly. Add columns for unit prices and costs and then track how the costs vary with the seasons and heating usage. Nothing focusses the mind quite like watching the costs rocket as the weather gets colder and the nights longer!
Planet Woking would like to thank Morgan for taking the time to put this inspiring case study together. If you have any questions, please get in touch via the Planet Woking email address: firstname.lastname@example.org