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Gadgets Add £600 Million To UK Energy Bill

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Brits are blaming their partners and children for wasteful energy habits, sending energy bills soaring by around £600m a year across the UK.

Almost a third of us (31 per cent) blame their spouse for leaving appliances switched on around the house. Women are more likely to blame their partners than men, with 36 per cent of women blaming partners compared to 26 per cent of men. Almost half (44 per cent) blame their children.

The findings from an Ipsos MORI survey of 2,710 UK participants show the average number of gadgets in people’s homes has increased by 31 per cent since 2010. In particular, the number of kitchen gadgets has boomed.

Overall, the number of kitchen gadgets has increased by 58 per cent and more than twice as many households now own smoothie makers, electric juicers and ice-cream makers compared to five years ago.

The findings are revealed ahead of the launch of Big Energy Saving Week, a joint campaign with Energy Saving Trust, Department of Energy and Climate Change and Citizens Advice which begins on Monday 26 October, helping people cut their fuel bills and get all the financial support they are entitled to.

The campaign provides advice to people over the telephone through the Energy Saving Advice service on 0300 123 1234, or face-to-face at hundreds of events being held across Britain.

The number of devices in people’s homes has grown rapidly and leaving these devices on standby has an impact on our energy bills. More than three quarters (78 per cent) of people admit to regularly leaving at least two devices on standby. An advanced set-top box left on standby for 20 hours a day could cost around £20 a year alone just in standby mode.

Gadget overload

– Number of people with surround sound systems has gone up by 51 per cent

– Number of people with advanced set-top boxes has gone up by 52 per cent

– Number of people with tablets has quadrupled and the numbers with desktop computers has fallen

– Number with coffee machines has gone up 64 per cent

– Number with ice-cream makers has gone up 79 per cent

– Number with e-readers has tripled

Almost half (46 per cent) of those who leave their TV on standby do so because it’s more convenient, and 22 per cent because they can’t access the plug, or simply because they see no reason to turn it off.

More than half of us (53 per cent) leave the TV on as background noise when they are in a room, and 43 per cent regularly leave it on when there is no-one in the room.

A fifth of us regularly leave multiple TVs switched on so as not to miss anything when we move between rooms.

Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of Energy Saving Trust, said: “We are urging people to be in control of their energy use. There is a growing black hole in our energy bills because we prefer the convenience of standby, but many of us blame each other for leaving things on around the house and its adding £30 to our bills every year.

“Getting down on your hands and knees and working out what you can and can’t switch off can be a real pain for some of us. We suggest simply plugging everything that you can switch off into one extension socket and everything that you can’t into another.”

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said: “My number one priority is to keep bills down for hardworking families and businesses across the country. Our reforms are pushing up competition, pushing down tariffs and saving households millions by switching energy supplier.

“But knowing how much energy you use – and waste by leaving appliances on standby – also goes a long way in helping put consumers in control of their bills. And with smart meters on their way, making bills more accurate and affordable will only get easier.”

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Smaller energy bills could make a warm home in winter more affordable for everybody.

“Citizens Advice helps thousands of people a year who are struggling to afford their energy. Being on the best deal, saving energy where possible and getting support to switch where needed can have a massive impact on people’s ability to manage their energy costs.

“If you are struggling with energy bills, worried about fuel debts, or need help switching, you can get advice from us online, over the phone, or by attending one of the hundreds of Big Energy Saving Week activities all across the country.”

For easy steps to switching energy supplier visit BeAnEnergyShopper.com, or for advice and tips on how to save call the Energy Saving Advice service on 0300 123

Economy

New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035

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renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart / https://www.shutterstock.com/g/adrian825

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/green-dream-risks-energy-security-as-kiwis-aim-for-zero-carbon

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-hydrocarbons/france-plans-to-end-oil-and-gas-production-by-2040-idUSKCN1BH1AQ

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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