Frugal Family

Wasting My Energy

Today, I was thinking about my energy bills.

In the Newhouse household (that’s a mouthful, I know) we pay quarterly on a really “simple” tariff. The idea is that we only pay for what we use. I didn’t want to mess about with fixed rates, direct debits and rolling contracts.

Our last bill was just over £300, and we thought that was pretty good, considering it works out about £100 per month and that’s a little below the average for the UK. We have a tiny house, that is well insulated, and it doesn’t take a lot to heat. I’m pretty frugal, and made my own draught excluder which does seem to make a difference. We share bath water and leave the bath water in the bath over night to help keep the house warm. We’ve not really noticed the increase in energy prices to be perfectly honest, but I do understand (speaking from experience) that having a house that doesn’t keep the heat in can quickly cause your energy bills to get out of hand. We were paying £40 – £70 per week when we lived in Bedford…

Anyway, all this got me thinking.

We have one of these:










and one of these:










and one of these:








And neither I, nor my husband have a clue how to use these properly.

We turn the dial up on the thermostat on the wall to FULL, then press the boiler “on” button until it clicks into action. The radiator control inside the boiler, we leave on 9 all the time. We can’t even work out how to set the timer.

Am I doing this right?

We only really do this when we want the radiators on. The boiler pushes hot water through the taps pretty quickly on demand, and so I’m pretty sure we’ve not got a hot water cylinder.

So really, we’ve probably been wasting money somewhere along the line.

Jay loves automation, and has crazy ideas about controlling everything through his phone. He already has it so we can play any music or films from our computer, anywhere in the house using some wireless networking thingy.

He has been looking into switching over onto a smart meter, or having this new Hive technology installed. The basic idea is that you can download reports from your smart meter, and then work out when you use your heating most and for how long. Then, you can theoretically work out where you’re wasting energy. Our provider’s website says we could potentially save £150 per year, which to us would help make a massive difference.

Jay is a massive geek, and has to analyse data all the time, so this sort of thing is just like a game to him.

On top of that, Hive Active Heating technology allows you to automate your heating, controlled via tablet or smartphone (or even internet browser) so its possible to have a higher level of control over your heating system.

You can switch the heating on or off, control the temperature and more. You can do this from anywhere, even when out and about, and I believe you can even schedule it all, which has to be much easier than trying to work out the timer thing on our current boiler control.

So how will this make our lives better? Aside from being able to see where we’re wasting money, there’s a lot this technology will help with. Sometimes, we pop out in the evening to the supermarket. We’re not out long, but we wouldn’t want to leave the heating on just in case. What would be ideal is if, say, when we were paying at the tills, we could activate the heating and start to get the house warm for when we get home. This means that we avoid sitting there in the cold waiting for the house to warm up, only to turn the heating off a few minutes later anyway.

I’ve left the heating on plenty of times and then come home a few hours later. Being able to get alerts or notifications to let me know that I’ve left the heating on would come  in handy, and help save some pennies too.

Also, call me lazy, but I love the idea of being able to switch the heating on from the comfort of my bed, so I don’t have to go downstairs in the cold first thing in the morning!

Will we be getting Hive?

Hopefully, and hopefully sooner rather than later!

Let me know what do you think about home automation by leaving a comment below.

Hazel Newhouse

Hazel is a mum to 3 daughters and a son, she lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, kids and pets. Hazel has written for various publications, and regularly works alongside popular parenting and gardening brands.

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1 Comment

  1. Your bill def sounds too much, although these energy companies are mugging us off left right and centre!

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