Five things you ought to know about... energy consumption in the home

5 January 2012

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 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



Item 5. Mechanical Ventilation with Heat recovery (Unit Noise Levels). I'm sure the vast majority of Design Build contractors and Designers know this; these units should be located away from living or work areas, such as, in an attached garage or basement. The reason being that the moment someone uses the bathroom and switches on the extract fan or the outside temperature is below that of the interior (the MVHR goes into exchange mode, heating the fresh outside air to room temperature by heat recovery) which is most of the Autumn, Winter and Spring - the MVHR goes from a audible hum to a deafening roar - result: a need to turn to the volume on the TV, consequently waking others up who are sleeping! They do save you money though!

Mark Selby, 13 April 2012

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