News Alert

Wondering how to further reduce your energy bills? Have a look at the HOBBS report for a few ideas.


Metering is a great way to check if your house is performing adequately, and if things you do to improve it are having effect. It saves energy, because you cannot resist your competitive instinct to try and get the figures down, week by week and season by season. After a year or more you can enjoy the benefit of comparing performance seasonally and annually!
    If you have not started storing the meter readings of your house, Autumn is the time to start, using a spreadsheet to store the principal readings. See how the house performs during the Winter.  Using the spreadsheet in GoogleDocs, you can have the pleasure of putting your meter readings on the web for public viewing!
  • Weekly readings are useful, and you will never again have the annoyance of an "Estimated Bill" - you will be charged correctly. 
  • Daily readings are only worth doing if you have a Photovoltaic roof and want to record daily performance.
  • If you are doing something to the house to improve its performance, the winter is coming soon, and you should start metering, so you can assess its performance compared with last year. 
  • Keep all previous bills, water, gas and electric, so you can build a spreadsheet of previous years performance, and compare with more recent ones.
  • As two examples: 
    • Metering for the Peveril Solar House is slightly manic, as readings are taken EVERY day and there are many things to  meter, and lots of consequences to calculate - the entire house is a 'Research Rig', and we are testing the Sunboxes for future manufacturing, so this level of metering is important. We also have two dataloggers recording 12 channels automatically. Yours does not have to be this complicated. 
    • Musters Metering is Karina's house, a mixture of electric, PV, Gas and woodburning.
  • At Peveril, the Water consumption is also tested as there is a supplementary meter on the Hot water, and a normal supply meter on the Cold. If you do not have a water meter, now is the time to ask for it, and I gather that the water utility will do it for free. Water is a precious resource that costs energy to capture, store, purify and deliver.
  • If you have things added, such as a PV panel or two, it is easy to add extra columns to your spreadsheet.
It seems tedious now, but becomes an easy routine once you start, and you will be grateful a year later if you are trying to assess the 'payback' on your insulation, PV, draught proofing, or any other eco things you have tried on the house. Set your mobile phone to bleep on Sunday evenings, perhaps.

GAS users

Gas use is traditionally much higher than electricity because it is about a quarter of the price - approx 3.5pence/kWh. Electricity users have to try harder to compete! This is one reason why the heat pump industry still has an uphill task against the conventional gas central heating industry.
   You may need info on how to compute GAS energy equivalents. Actually, the gas bills are usually quoted in both, but they usually do it quarterly. If you read your meter daily, you want an easy spreadsheet way to convert daily. Using a Googledoc or Excel spreadsheet, it can all be s-oo-oo easy.
    Your Gas meter is usually in Cubic Metres. Multiply by the Calorific value, which for the gas delivered to my area is 39.4979. Multiply by a Volume Correction  1.022640. To get Kilowatt hours, now divide by 3.6. 
   What this all means simply, is that if you have cubic metres multiply by 11.02. One cubic metre equals 11.02 kilowatt hours. Simples!
   Actually it could be more complicated. If you have an old meter showing it in Hundreds of Cubic Feet, your simple calculation is to multiply by 31.3 to get Kwh.
   Incidentally, only 56% of the cost of gas is for the gas itself. 22% of your payment is towards storage and delivery, 8% towards operating overheads, 7% to VAT and tax, 2% is the renewable obligation (e.g. paying for the Feed in Tariff and other grants for renewables), and 5% is profit for the company.