Time to switch?

NEW homeowner HAZEL BYFORD put Powergen's new Electrisave to the test - a device which is being trialed with 1,000 customers in a bid to help save UK households £615m a year.

NEW homeowner HAZEL BYFORD put Powergen's new Electrisave to the test - a device which is being trialed with 1,000 customers in a bid to help save UK households £615m a year.

FOR most people who buy an Electrisave, their ambitions will be simple - to learn how to save on power and cost, plus greenhouse gas emissions.

For my boyfriend Matt and I this little white box represented more than that. It was the chance to end our long-running row about what constitutes the biggest waste of our wages…his beloved PlayStation2 or my couldn't-live-without-them ceramic hair straighteners.

When I switch off a light or only boil the minimum amount of water in the kettle, it's good to know I'm doing my bit to save the world. But deep down I'm a typical 20-something with bills to pay, so my real motivation behind trying this device was saving money.

When we installed it at the electric meter, it was 7.30pm on a weekday evening, so we had on the television, Sky, two 100-watt dimmer lights and little bits like the bedroom alarm clock, the fridge and freezer, clocks on the oven and so on.

We set the monitor to comply with how much we pay, and discovered we were paying 2.7pence an hour for the electricity we had running - which didn't surprise me too much.

Most Read

Then it was time to road test various appliances, and much to my pleasure my hair straighteners on full heat raised the price-per-hour by less than half a pence.

Great news, until Matt suggested I try the hairdryer as well, and the price shot up to 22p an hour.

Upstairs, the power shower costs about 4p an hour, the electric fan 2p, all the upstairs' lights 4p and the three fan-operated plug-in air fresheners 1p.

When we went downstairs I headed straight for Matt's PlayStation2 and was firmly put in my place when the console only hiked the price by a measly 1p (less than the hair straighteners I hasten to add).

Most of the downstairs appliances were quite expensive - the Dyson costs around 13.5p an hour and the kettle 25.5p but neither stay on for that long.

However the electric fire, which will no doubt be used for hours on end come the winter, costs a shocking 23p per hour.

The oven and grill get used a lot and when both are on full they cost almost 50p an hour to run.

The Electrisave manual advises you on how to set alarms, so you are alerted when the cost-per-hour goes above a pre-set limit. The device is supposed to help reduce electricity costs by 25per cent.

Neither of us are about to drastically change our style of living, but I will be more aware, next time I spend ages styling and restyling my tresses!

The £79.95 Electrisave unit consists of a current transformer clip which is attached to the inbound mains cable of the meter, which is then plugged into a small radio transmitter.

The transmitter sends a signal to a battery powered Liquid Crystal Display unit, which the customer can place anywhere in the home.

As the power consumption of the house changes when appliances are used, the customer can see how much power the house is using at any given moment. For example, if you boil a kettle it will show you how much your energy consumption goes up as a result.

Nick Horler, managing director of retail at Powergen, said: “We want to see if providing households with real-time information like this can actually encourage them to become more energy efficient.

“It's very early days but, we hope that, by giving customers information on their energy use, they will then make informed choices, especially when they see how, by making small changes, they can actually make large savings.”


:: If your boiler needs to be replaced, make sure you replace it with a high efficiency condensing boiler, to shave around a third off your bills.

:: Consider installing cavity wall insulation. If your home is suitable, about three hours of a professional's time will save up to £120 on annual heating bills.

:: Insulating your loft is a great way of cutting down heat loss and could save between £140 and £170 in a year.

:: Turning your thermostat down by 1C could cut your heating bills by up to 10pc and save you around £30 per year.

:: Double glazing will cut down heat loss, stop rattles, draughts and reduce noise pollution.

:: By fitting a jacket on your hot water tank you can reduce heat loss by up to 75per cent.

:: Draught proofing will save you money, as heat escapes through leaky doors and windows.

:: Close the curtains to stop heat escaping through the windows after dark.

In Britain we waste the equivalent of around two power stations' worth of electricity each year by leaving TV sets and other gadgets on standby.

:: Always turn off the lights when you leave a room.

:: Don't leave appliances on standby and remember not to leave appliances on charge unnecessarily.

:: If you're not filling up the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher, wait until you have a full load or use the half-load or economy programme.

:: Air dry your clothes when possible. Your dryer is one of the biggest energy users in your home.

:: Replace your light bulbs with energy-saving recommended ones: just one can reduce your lighting costs by up to £78 over the lifetime of the bulb - and they last up to 12 times longer than ordinary light bulbs.

:: Defrost your freezer regularly and try to keep it full to avoid wasting energy.

:: When replacing electric appliances, look for ones displaying the energy-saving recommended logo. Energy-saving appliances use less energy and could save you up to £35 a year.

You can have a free Home Energy Check done on your home by the Energy Saving Trust. They compiles a tailored energy audit on your home, telling you where you could save energy, how much and how much the measures would cost to implement. Call 0800 512 012 or see www.est.org.uk/anglia.