Making energy costs stand still

Friday, June 14, 2013

Reducing energy use and CO2 emissions had long been a passion of mine since a teenager and I decided that if energy efficiency was going to be my business I should start walking the talk and lead by example.  When I established Solaflair back in 2006 I also set about turning my own 3 bed semi-detached east/west facing house in to a low energy home. 

(It is a big mis-conception that for solar to work you need a south facing roof. Yes in an ideal world, a South facing installation is the perfect situation and will give you the best results but an East West configuration will also give you up to 85% of optimal performance.)

Before you can start on reducing your energy costs if you do nothing else  you should insulate, insulate  and insulate, once you have done that everything else can be done in small affordable steps. 

Once the loft had been insulated and I had changed every single light bulb in the house to low energy bulbs the next thing I did for my home was to install a solar thermal hot water system.  This consisted of two 15 evacuated tube collectors, one on each side of the roof. The first year it was installed our boiler was turned  off in April and was not switched on again until towards the end of October, giving us a decent saving on our gas bills.

Next came the wood burning stove with back boiler to boost  our hot water supply.  In addition to it being plumbed in to the hot water cylinder the stove boiler also feeds two radiators  (one each in the two main bedrooms used). This naturally decreased the use of our boiler during the winter months.

Next up was a PV installation – a 4kW system, again with panels on both the east and west facing roof.  In the ‘old days’ when Economy 7 was the electric tariff to be on we got used to using the washing machine, tumble dryer, dish washer etc during the evening to make best use of the cheaper electricity.  Well when you have PV you train yourself to run the big electrical items during the day!

There are lots of energy saving things we do around the house such as using a gas hob to heat a kettle in the evening but switching to a small 2 cup electric kettle during the day. Using a saucepan lid for more efficient heating when cooking among other things.  Also each week I record all my meter readings weekly at   Once you start monitoring things  it’s amazing how much more you can cut down your usage even further. 

Rummaging through some old paperwork the other day I found an old utility bill from May 2006, when I compared it to my last utility bill I realised by taking the actions above although costs have increased dramatically I had actually made my energy costs stand still over the past 7 years!





May 2013

May 2006


May 2013

May 2006

kWh used


kWh used






Cost per unit


Cost per unit

4.3 pence

2.36 pence


13.572 pence

9.22 pence

Total Gas Bill


Total electricity bill






If you would like more information about what you can do to reduce your utility bills please call 01865 424869 or email

With over 35 years experience in the Energy and Gas Industry Rob originally trained as a gas engineer with British Gas, moving on to become a lecturer in Gas safety at Oxford College as it was then before ultimately spending 7 years as a Gas CORGI inspector and RSA D32/3 Assessor in the 90’s.