Different Methods for Generating Electricity

We are all used to just having electricity available in our homes, and at the flick of a switch, we have power coursing through the house.  But have you ever thought about where this energy comes from?  Here’s a handy guide to where our electricity is created!

Firstly, here in the UK we use a number of different sources for our energy production. There are 4 main areas our electricity comes from.

Fossil Fuels:  These are where most of our electricity comes from.  Burning fossil fuels like natural gas, coal and some oil generates electricity in power stations.  The amount generated by the powerstations changes every year, with some power stations switching fuels depening on the cost of fuel.



What Are The Energy Performance Certificates for Homes?

The EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings came into effect progressively from 2007 and is an important part of government strategies for tackling climate change. The principle underlying the Directive is to make energy use in buildings transparent by the issuing of a certificate showing the energy rating of a property, accompanied by recommendations on how to improve efficiency. This energy performance certificate (EPC) must be provided whenever a property is constructed, rented out or sold. The EPC shows the energy efficiency rating (relating to running costs) of a dwelling. The rating is shown on an A–G rating scale similar to those used for refrigerators and other electrical appliances.

When the construction of a new building is completed, the builder or person responsible for the construction is responsible for obtaining the certificate and providing it to the owner. This is a duty under Building Regulations. This will also apply if a building is converted into fewer or more units and there are changes to the heating, hot water provision or air conditioning/ ventilation services.

Domestic properties require an EPC on construction and some commercial buildings will require an EPC on construction or conversion.

Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is leading the introduction of a number of energy and cost savings measures to make all buildings more efficient. The measures are being applied across all European Union countries and are in line with the European Directive for the Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD) (recast).

Building an Energy Efficient House

Before making upgrades, you may also want to work with an energy auditor to use the Home Energy Score, which provides a rating of your home’s current efficiency, as well as a list of improvements and potential savings.
Ultra-Efficient Homes
Ultra-efficient homes combine state-of-the-art energy-efficient construction, appliances, and lighting with commercially available renewable energy systems, such as solar water heating and solar electricity. By taking advantage of local climate and site conditions, designers can often also incorporate passive solar heating and cooling and energy-efficient landscaping strategies. The intent is to reduce home energy use as cost-effectively as possible, and then meet the reduced load with on-site renewable energy systems.
Advanced House Framing
If you’re building a new house or adding on to an existing one, consider using advanced house framing (also known as optimum value engineering), which reduces lumber use and waste and improves energy efficiency in a wood-framed house.
Cool Roofs
Cool roofs use highly reflective materials to reflect more light and absorb less heat from sunlight, which keeps homes cooler during hot weather.
Passive Solar Home Design
Passive solar home design takes advantage of climatic and site conditions to provide heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.

Easy Ways to Use Less Energy In Your Home!

Sometimes we need to rein in what we are using in order to spend less on our electricity and gas bills!  There are lots of really easy ways to make savings straight away!  Check out our list of top ways to save energy in your home today.

  1. Skip pre-rinsing dishes before loading the diswasher – rinsing first uses up to 6,500 gallons of water per year!
  2. Replace your bulbs with LED lights – the LES lights last so much longer and use less daily than regular bulbs
  3. Insulate water heaters and pipes – helps to retain more heat, so you use less energy to heat up your water
  4. Seal doors and windows – keep heat from escaping!  This will use less energy to heat your home
  5. Upgrade the thermostat – a programmable thermostat can save £100s every year
  6. Install low flow toilets and showerheads – reduce the amount of wasted water you use without even noticing!

How to Go About Switching Your Energy Supplier

This isn’t as scary or difficult as it sounds!  Over the past few years, the government introduced the Energy Switch Guarantee, which is an industry-led initiative to make it easier to switch companies for your energy supplies.  Here are the main steps to switching easily!

  1. Phone your current company to find out if there are any different deals you could have
  2. Use a comparison website to find the best deals for your needs
  3. Use a switch event in your local shopping centre when they are available
  4. When you want to switch, you’ll just need the sname of your current company, how you pay (eg direct debit, on reciept of bill etc) and how much energy you use.  All this information will be on your latest bill.
  5. When you’ve decided to switch, the new company will ask for a meter reading so they can bill you correctly.  The new company will do all the work and will communicate with your old company to make sure any outstanding monies are paid.  They’ll let you know when your new contract starts.
  6. It can take around 3 weeks to fully switch, but there won’t be any interruption to your supply – you can carry on as usual while the switch takes place
  7. Nobody even needs to visit your home to switch suppliers!

It is so easy and worth checking each year that you aren’t paying too much for your energy!

What Exactly Are We Paying For in Our Electricity Bills?

When we recieve an electricity bill, it obviously shows how much electricity we used, and how much this amount costs.  But they don’t really tell the full story, and that is what makes up the cost of electricity.  We have broken down the standard bill into the componant costs, so you know exactly where your money is going!

There are five main componenets which go towards the consumer energy bill:  wholesale cost, network cost, policy cost, operating cost and VAT.  These costs change over time, especially while the proportion of wholesale costs has tended to drop over the last few years, and other parts have increased.  This is one reason why retail prices do not fully follow the wholesale costs.

Wholesale Cost

In order to supply to customers, the energy supplier needs to buy its energy from somewhere.  This energy is often purchased months or years in advance.  Did you know the average wholesale cost has dropped around 54% over the past 5 years?!

Network Cost

Electricity and gas need to be distributed from the source to the consumer.  In order to do this, networks of pipes and cables are needed to flow energy to homes and businesse.  Energy suppliers are charged for their use of these networks.  The average cost of network use has increased 29% over the past 5 years!

Operational Cost

These are the costs of running the retail energy business (this has risen around 14% since 2010).

Policy costs

The government has programmes in place to try to deliver lower carbon energy, create more efficient homes and allow for lower fuel costs for poor families.  All these have impact on the average bill for consumers, as the supplier has to cover the costs.  Costs from government policy have increased bills by around 4% since 2011.