How to heat a planet

With the threat to gas supplies as a result of the tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine, and the UK energy market reporting that demand could outstrip supply in the colder months, anything we can do to reduce our consumption is only going to be good for us and the economy as well as the planet. Here is how I have been reducing my gas bill and helping the economy in the process.

Ukraine crisis sends oil prices to six week high

A few years ago I bought a home. It was single-glazed and got very cold in the winter. The heating was on higher than I would have liked but it kept me warm and the drafts at bay. On cold nights I left the heating on all night as the single-glazing let out so much heat and it was too cold to sleep.

After a few years of mounting bills I decided to take the plunge and invest in double-glazing. This was before Green Deals and was a chunk of money by any standards. However, the next winter I noticed my heating bills dropped by almost 50%. The new windows didn’t leak heat like the old ones and weren’t draughty like the single-glazing. I didn’t need to leave the heating on to counter the effect of the single-glazing, except on very cold nights, and needed to bracket my home time less as a result (i.e. needed the heating on less as less heat was being wasted).

This year, my gas bill (heating and hot water) jumped again by almost 40% for the same month as last year, but this year was much warmer than last so I couldn’t understand why given my energy prices hadn’t gone up significantly. My assumption was that I had the heating programmer on more than I needed to – switching on earlier and going off later than I needed.

I reprogrammed the system, but it was an old-style programmer and fiddly to do so easier to postpone. I had a couple of power cuts which meant I needed to reprogram the system again, so my disregard for accuracy because of the problematic user interface were obviously costing me.

I read about Hive from British Gas and decided to invest, embracing the Internet of Things and connecting my heating control to the Internet and my smartphone. Once the system was installed, a quick run through the app ensured an accurate schedule for heating and hot water, and I could switch on and off the systems ad hoc from anywhere, or reprogram a single morning or evening if my schedule changed. So easy!

The next two months saw my bill reduce by almost two-thirds. With my nett consumption down significantly I am now using about a third of the gas I was using a couple of years ago. And using a third of the gas I was using reduces my bills, reduces nett demand for gas overall and significantly lowers my carbon footprint and carbon impact on the planet. Win-Win-Win.

I’d recommend looking into Hive to help your bottom line, and indirectly reduce the UK’s overall demand for gas. If we can become less reliant on external fossil fuels we will also be more fiscally secure as a country in the long term.

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