Monday, 15 September 2014

The advice I am giving on my site

I am aiming to reach 1% of UK households with this series of simple messages on my site.

Can you help me do it?

How do I save money here? 
By switching off appliances when I do not need them I reduce my consumption and my bills. You can do this with automatic time switches or manually. On this site you will find out how to do this easily and cheaply, with no loss of convenience. I have time switches on my immersion heater, freezer, laptop, and a time delay on my dishwasher set to go at around 1am. I use my washing machine between 10am and 3pm, usually when the sun is shining.

 If enough of us switch appliances off between about 330 and 8pm, particularly around 530pm in midwinter, we can start closing power stations without replacing them. Then we'll all save a lot more money both in bills and taxes. We'll also substantially reduce CO2 emissions and other pollution. People often ask me "Yes, but what action can I take right now?" .

  •  If you have got an immersion heater,  wire in a time switch to it. If in doubt get an electrician to do it.


  • Use water heating appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines, or tumble dryers as little as possible  from 3:30pm to 8:00pm, particularly 4:30 to 6:30pm

  • If you can, hang washing up -outside or inside- rather than using a tumble dryer ; I was amazed how quickly clothes dry on an old fashioned ceiling mounted Victorian clothes dryer!

  • If you are buying a new dishwasher, washing machine or tumble dryer, get one with a delay timer.

  • If you have got a freezer, fit a plug-in time switch to it . A modern chest freezer can be left off for many hours without thawing the contents

  • Fit time switches to devices with their own internal battery, such as laptop computers. They can be run for several hours without mains power. 

What is an intelligent plug?

An intelligent plug switches any appliance on or off when it receives a signal to do so. They can also be programmed to switch on and off at preset times. They can be controlled from anywhere, for example using a smartphone, through a wireless broadband connection. I can switch my lights in Devon on and off from my iPhone whether I am in England or in New Zealand – anywhere that has a broadband connection. It would be easy to delegate switching to a supplier or service company such as Kiwi Power to take advantage of lower prices at different times of day.
Intelligent plugs are already available, for example the  Belkin Wemo switch. But you probably don't need one yet, normal time switches are easier and cheaper.

Why else should we be switching appliances off at particular times?

As well as direct and immediate savings, there is an urgent need in UK and elsewhere to reduce the peak demand for electricity – every 50 watts (about one old fashioned light bulb) average reduction per household at peak times will save £1 billion in new generation capacity- more if that capacity is nuclear.
There is also a need to move demand to times of low consumption to enable better use of renewable electricity whether from wind or from solar PV.  Thus the carbon dioxide emissions of the system can be progressively reduced, ultimately to zero. 
Both of these needs can be met using existing technology with no disruption or inconvenience.

Who will benefit?

We all will, through lower electricity costs, lower costs to the taxpayer (because the government is now underwriting new generation capacity) and lower carbon emissions resulting from more renewable electricity generation.

How can an intelligent plug policy be implemented?

There are already pilot projects underway,  but we do not need to wait for the results of these to start taking action. The more we reduce our peak time demand for electricity now, the lower all our bills will be in future. 
From a climate change perspective, we do not have time to wait for a sequential rollout of technologies - there are already opportunities for direct and immediate action by us as individuals.

Don’t smart meters do this?

No. Smart meters as currently planned will let both consumers and utilities know how much each household is using and when. They will make it easier to have variable time of use tariffs, which will reward us for switching; but they will not in themselves control how or when appliances are switched on or off. In any case they will not be rolled out fully until 2020 which is too long to wait before starting.

Don't low energy light bulbs solve the problem?

Low energy light bulbs have done a fantastic job in reducing demand for electricity and will continue to do so. We will nevertheless need to build new power stations to replace ageing and polluting coal and nuclear stations. The more we can do to reduce consumption at peak times, the fewer new ones will we need.

What sort of appliances could be controlled?

Freezers, fridges, water immersion heaters, dishwashers, washing machines and some other forms of heating can be controlled with no loss of convenience. Kettles, microwaves, computers (unless they have inbuilt batteries) etc. are not suitable for controlled switching for reasons of convenience in use. 

Will we be able to override the controls?

Yes.  For example, if you want to put a lot of unfrozen food into your freezer to freeze it, you can put it on fast freeze, and override the time control.

When can we start?

We can individually switch appliances off at peak times right now, manually or using an old fashioned time switch.