Categories
Tips

Easing the pain of rising electricity prices

Easing the pain of rising electricity prices

 

The UK has the oldest housing stock in Europe, and this puts us at a serious disadvantage when it comes to making energy savings.

 

If you live in a new – or newish – house, it may already be fitted out with many of the latest energy-saving technologies. In which case, lucky you! But if yours is an older property, there are steps you can take, and practices you can adopt, to reduce your energy consumption.

 

 

Buy energy-efficient appliances

 

It can’t have escaped your notice that new white goods – fridges, washing machines and so on – carry energy-efficiency ratings. Energy labels were first introduced back in the 1990s, and a new set of standards was introduced in 2020. These use a more comprehensive spread of criteria, and provide a much more accurate assessment of how energy-efficient your appliances are.

 

Generally, the more energy-efficient your appliance is, the more expensive it will be to buy – so we wouldn’t recommend replacing everything right off the bat. (There are environmental and scrappage costs to consider too.) But if your tumble dryer is headed for the tip, and you’re looking to replace it, buy the best you can afford, with the best possible energy-efficiency rating.

 

 

Turn things off

 

Be honest. Do you really need to fire up the TV at a second’s notice? Do you really need the oven to tell you the time, when the kitchen clock is doing the same job? Turning mains-powered appliances off at the wall could save you, on average, £80 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. So when you’re turning in for the night, or if you’re away for the weekend – switch things off. Properly off. OFF, off.

 

 

When in doubt, automate

 

We all do it. Wander from room to room, leaving lights on and the heating running in spaces that are unoccupied for extended periods of time. It doesn’t have to be that way – and automation is your friend here.

 

There are motion-sensitive devices on the market which will turn the lights on when a room is occupied, and off when it isn’t. Easy-to-use timers can be set to turn the heating on and off in particular rooms. The key, as far as possible, is to automate these processes. Excel Electrical will be happy to advise you on what’s available, carry out your installation, and instruct you on how to get the best from your new money-saving gadgetry.

 

 

Batch-cook – and keep the freezer full

 

Whether you’re a reluctant chef or an overlooked culinary maestro, there are savings to be made from cooking in bulk. First, you’re powering up the oven once, not several times. Second, a well-stocked freezer uses less energy.

 

Conversely, when it comes to tonight’s dinner, think ahead. If you’re planning on eating some of that delicious chilli con carne you made a couple of weeks ago, get it out of the freezer in the morning and let it defrost naturally at room temperature – rather than on the hob or in the oven or microwave.

 

These are just some of the things we should all be doing. But how can Excel Electrical help you to reduce your electricity bills even further?

 

 

Energy-efficient lighting

 

Standard incandescent lightbulbs are extremely inefficient. Less than 10% of the electrical energy they use is converted to light, while the remaining 90% becomes heat.

 

Halogen lightbulbs look similar, but the filament is encased in a pocket of halogen gas. These bulbs burn brighter, use less electricity, and last up to twice as long as a standard bulb.

 

LED bulbs have been around for some time, but only recently have improvements in efficiency, cost and output made them viable for widespread – including domestic – use.

 

These environmentally-friendly bulbs can work for up to 50,000 hours (within the specified temperature range) and use around ten watts of power to produce 60 (incandescent) watts-worth of light. This provides efficiency gains of up to 80%.

 

Excel Electrical will work with you to design, supply, and install a low-voltage lighting system tailored to the needs of your home.

 

 

Reducing the voltage

 

Typically, the voltage coming into your home is 245v – but it doesn’t need to be.

 

A voltage regulator linked to the fuse box will reduce the voltage and maintain it at a constant 220v. In terms of the performance of your various appliances, you won’t notice the difference – until you see your electricity bill! Typically, whole-house savings are around 10%.

 

And it’s likely to help your appliances last longer, too.

 

Any add-on device installed alongside your fuse box must be installed by a qualified electrician. At Excel Electrical, all our engineers are experienced, qualified and certified to install voltage regulators, with the minimum of disruption and at an affordable price. There are numerous regulators available, and our electricians can offer advice on the best choice for you, your home, and your budget.

 

 

Heat recovery units

 

If you live in a modern house, your home may well have many of the devices and gadgets you need to reduce your energy consumption while living comfortably. But your new-build has one invisible weakness: modern, well insulated, centrally heated homes suffer air pollution levels up to ten times higher than outside.

 

Heat recovery systems are designed to change the air within a property, continually replacing stale, damp air with fresh, warmed, clean, and filtered air.

 

A typical heat recovery ventilation unit recovers 60-70% of the heat normally lost through conventional trickle vents, extractor fans, and other breakout points in the building structure. The unit takes out the stale air, removing the warmth from it as it does so, and uses that heat to warm the fresh air as it comes in.

 

Heat recovery units are not for the faint-hearted – good ones are not cheap, and there will inevitably be some disturbance and inconvenience during the installation process. Excel Electrical will advise on what will suit you, and your pocket, best. Our experienced, qualified engineers will keep the disruption to a minimum, and over time the system will pay for itself many times over.

 

 

Contact us

 

For more information and a quotation on any of these technology options, all of which will help bring down your energy bills, give us a call on 01508 488007.

 

Excel Electrical: the power’s in your hands.

 

 

Categories
Tips

Electricity: beat the bills in your business!

It seems that for energy prices, the only way is up. While we’re all tightening our belts at home, businesses are also taking a good look at current usage, and where they can make savings.

 

Of course, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. From corner shops and office blocks to warehouses and mega-factories, businesses and their premises are all different. There is no magic formula to keep your electricity bills low, but there are things that all businesses can do to manage their energy costs.

 

For example, your heating probably runs on oil or gas. Not Excel Electrical’s area, but there are steps you can take to reduce your fuel usage, and bring down your electricity costs at the same time.

 

 

Strategise and prioritise

 

In a perfect world, every company would have the time and money needed to build or retrofit a more energy-efficient commercial building.

 

This is not an ideal world – but there’s no law that says you have to do everything in one hit. Work out what your priorities are – taking into account the level of disruption, the cost implications, and the payback time – and timetable those improvements first.

 

 

Insulation, insulation, insulation

 

Depending on the age of your office suite or industrial unit, it may already be as insulated as it can be. If not, insulation is relatively inexpensive and needn’t be overly disruptive. Double glazing (itself a form of insulation) might be worth considering, too. Government grants and loans are available to help pay for energy-efficiency upgrades: click here for more information.

 

 

Harness your heat sources

 

If you’re looking to reduce your heating costs, bear in mind that a great many business machines – computers, photocopiers, printers and manufacturing plant – give off heat. Look at ways to harness some of those heat sources. Centralising your tech, for example, will go a long way towards heating that space.

 

 

Don’t heat – or light – unused spaces

 

Your offices and/or factory floor are probably occupied constantly during the day. But what about the boardroom? Staff restrooms? Recreational spaces?

 

There are motion-sensitive devices on the market that turn the lights on when a room is occupied, and off when it isn’t. You can find easy-to-use timers to turn the heating on and off in particular spaces – for a board meeting, or during the lunch hour. The key is to automate these processes – the less you and your employees have to think about them, the more effective they are likely to be! Excel Electrical will be happy to advise you on what’s available, carry out your installation, and instruct you in how to get the best from your new money-saving gadgets.

 

 

Daylight is free!

 

It’s surprising how many offices and shops are flooded with natural light during the day, but persist in keeping the lights on. Save yourself the job of regulating your light levels, and use a sensor to turn the lights on (or, more importantly, off) according to whatever preset ambience you require. Excel Electrical will be pleased to advise you, and to supply and install these units.

 

 

Talking of lighting…

 

Standard incandescent lightbulbs are extremely inefficient. Less than 10% of the electrical energy they use is converted to light, while the remaining 90% becomes heat.

 

Halogen lightbulbs look similar, but the filament is encased in a pocket of halogen gas. These bulbs burn brighter, use less electricity, and last up to twice as long as a standard bulb.

 

LED bulbs have been around for some time, but only recently have improvements in efficiency, cost and output made them viable for business use.

 

These environmentally-friendly bulbs can work for up to 50,000 hours (within the specified temperature range) and use around ten watts of power to produce 60 (incandescent) watts-worth of light. This provides efficiency gains of up to 80%.

 

Excel Electrical will work with you to design, supply, and install a low-voltage lighting system tailored to the needs of your premises.

 

 

Educate your staff

 

Automation and new electrical gizmos and gadgetry will get you so far – but your employees need to be aware of what you’re doing, the steps you’re taking, and the rationale behind those changes.

 

Explain what you are doing, and how they can play their part. Turning lights off, not leaving laptops on standby, boiling just enough water for a cuppa, and so on.

 

These are testing times. But by making changes where you can – to your electrical equipment and how you use it, and more generally – you can seize the initiative, and keep your energy bills affordable.

 

 

Contact us

 

For an Electrical Efficiency Health Check on your Business carried out by Excel Electrical Services Ltd, to identify technology solutions to help bring down your energy bills, give us a call on 01508 488007.

 

Excel Electrical: the power is in your hands.

 

 

Categories
Tips

Electric Vehicle Charging Grants

Full speed ahead – to zero!

 

With the government (hopefully) committed to the UK achieving a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050, we are all being encouraged to do what we can to protect (or repair) the environment. Not that we should need encouraging!

 

However, there is widespread acknowledgement that the ecological big-hitters need to be tackled now, if the climate crisis isn’t to turn into a climate catastrophe. The environmental bad guys? Domestic energy supply, and road transport – specifically, our cars.

 

Electric vehicles are becoming more affordable, and help is at hand. The government’s Office of Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) is running a help-to-buy scheme on a range of makes and models (a full list is available here), contributing up to 35% (up to a maximum of £2,500) of the on-the-road cost of a new electric vehicle.

 

The financial incentives don’t stop there. OZEV is also chipping in generously towards the cost of installing electric vehicle chargepoints at both domestic and commercial premises.

 

Homeowners in typical freehold properties – single-unit properties such as bungalows, detached, semi-detached, or terraced housing – have until the end of March 2022 to take advantage of the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) to install a subsidised domestic chargepoint, after which they will no longer be eligible for the grant.

 

But the EVHS will still be available to leaseholders and renters – and, indeed, landlords.

 

Under the terms of the scheme, occupants in either a flat (rented or leasehold) or rental accommodation will receive up to £350 towards the cost of installing a chargepoint. Applicants must have a qualifying electric vehicle (a list of qualifying vehicles can be found by clicking here), and their property must have dedicated off-street parking.

 

Non-resident building owners (landlords, social-housing providers, etc) can also apply for an EVHS grant.

 

Up to £350 will be available per socket towards the cost of a chargepoint installation, with a limit of 200 applications per annum per applicant.

 

The property must have associated private parking. There is no limit as to how many chargepoint sockets can be installed in each property, within the overall number of grants available.

 

The idea is to encourage people in flats and other rented accommodation – where charging provision is currently more limited and potentially more challenging to secure – to make the switch to electric vehicles.

 

Meanwhile there is also help for small businesses looking to encourage their employees to go electric: OZEV’s Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS).

 

Up to £350 is available per socket towards the cost of a chargepoint, with a maximum of 40 grants available. The chargepoints must be located in a private parking area, reserved for staff or fleet use.

 

Furthermore, OZEV is to launch a new digital platform for the allocation of chargepoint grants, available soon. This will enable the department to provide additional help for owners of apartment blocks to provision the buildings’ associated parking with chargepoints – a support package worth up to £30,000. The new platform will benefit SMEs too, awarding up to an extra £15,000 per annum to qualifying businesses.

 

The new platform will also allow owners of commercially let properties to apply for a WCS grant to install chargepoints for staff or fleet use, for current or future business tenants. The scheme will also be rolled out to include small accommodation businesses (such as B&Bs and campsites), and charities.

 

In all these scenarios there are certain criteria that have to be met before funding is available. As you’d expect, the more complex and wide-ranging the requirement, the more hurdles there are.

 

But we bring good news! At Excel Electrical, we’ve read the small print so you don’t have to. If you think you or your organisation might qualify for any of these subsidies, just contact us and outline your situation. We’ll not only tell you what grant, or grants, are available to you, but we can discuss the logistics of your installation programme: how long it will take, and how we’ll work with you to keep any disruption to a minimum.

 

Unlike the EVHS for freehold homeowners, the scheme for leaseholders, tenants and landlords is not currently subject to any time limit, nor is the WCS. We would nonetheless advise you to act on these offers sooner rather than later. There are all sorts of calls on government funding, particularly post-pandemic, and priorities do change.

 

So call us now. We look forward to helping you ‘put it in neutral’!