Bulb shares green energy-saving tips for households
This winter at home makes consumers more conscious of not only the bills they have to pay on energy, but also the cost they may have on the environment.
While it’s easier to see your energy bills clearly printed in black and white, your carbon footprint in this regard is more obscure. Finding a way to balance your energy consumption needs with a leaner energy bill and a smaller impact on the planet is tricky to balance, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
We spoke to Bulb, a self-described green gas and electricity supplier, to see what we can all do to protect the planet, while taking our own requirements into consideration.
Bulb helps going green go mainstream
Shaunagh Duncan is Sustainability Lead at Bulb, a private company which has been operating since 2015, supplying households across the UK with 100 per cent renewable electricity and 100 per cent carbon neutral gas supplies. Shaunagh explained what Bulb is doing, to help bring about a sea-change in helping households make the switch to green energy.
She explained: “At Bulb, we help people switch to green energy, lowering their carbon emissions and energy bills…our members reduce their carbon footprint by 3.4 tonnes on average each year, when they switch to Bulb – almost a quarter of their total emissions.”
This is an impressive feat, when you consider that, households are responsible for 40 per cent of total carbon emissions in the UK, according to findings by the Committee on Climate Change. In essence, the journey towards a net-zero carbon future starts right on our very own doorsteps, in the way we choose to source our energy to heat and power our homes.
“We’re the only large energy supplier in the UK to become an accredited B Corp”, Shaunagh explains, “which means we meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance.”
Bulb is at the forefront of a major surge in customers seeking greener ways to power their homes. “People are voting with their feet and moving to suppliers who can provide them with sustainable, renewable energy. When we started Bulb, just one per cent of households were with renewable energy suppliers. Now, that figure is at 14 per cent.”
Bulb’s solutions for beating off the freeze
Recent headlines in the UK suggest that our energy bills only seem to be getting more expensive this year, with electricity prices hitting an all-time high in early 2021, while natural gas prices have risen to a level not seen for three years. It’s no surprise, as we endure a cold snap and remain under lockdown restrictions, keeping us cooped up in our homes like never before.
But Bulb has some easy-to-follow ideas for beating off the big freeze, while staying toasty in a more affordable way.
“There are many more ways to stay warm whilst working from home this winter, without spending more money on energy bills”, Shaunagh reveals. “There are long-term solutions like improving window glazing, installing draught excluders, or insulating your home more thoroughly. But for quick, easy changes, here are three top picks we recommend.”
Bulb’s bill-busting tips :
Keep internal doors closed
Closing doors inside your home will help trap heat in each room, meaning you’ll use less energy trying to warm up empty spaces.
Use a timer
It’s tempting to have the heater on all day, but most boilers have timers so you can set the clock so your heating comes on roughly 30 minutes before you wake up and then turns off a couple of hours later. By using the set timer, you won’t accidentally leave your heating on and this will save energy and money.
Reveal your radiator
Having a sofa, table or a bed blocking a radiator will stop the room heating up. It gets absorbed by the item of furniture rather than warming you. Drying clothes on your radiator can have the same effect, and actually creates extra moisture in the air – meaning it takes more energy to heat the whole room and can create condensation.
At a time when more of us are spending time indoors, Bulb gave us a striking insight into our weekly habits. Shaunagh was able to gleam some very telling things, stating, “We looked at data from Bulb members’ smart meters on weekdays during lockdown in March and April last year, and compared it with data from before the lockdown.”
Bulb found that, first of all, most of its members liked to start the day with a bit of a lie-in. “A 21 per cent drop in electricity demand at 7.30am showed that we spent our virtual commute catching up on some shut-eye”, Shaunagh revealed. Not only that, but households showed more signs of dabbling in the kitchen than before.
“Households used 27 per cent more electricity at 1pm compared to pre-lockdown data, as more of us eat lunch at home.”
To round off the typical daily lockdown energy usage experience, Bulb also discovered that many of us might be signing off from our duties while working from home a tad earlier than you’d expect, with a notable peak in energy usage around midday, dropping off by seven per cent by the evening.
A smart meter approach
None of Bulb’s aforementioned findings would have been possible without the trusty smart meter, that little box of tricks that sits on a wall somewhere in many of our homes. The UK Government estimated that there were 21.5 million smart and advanced meters installed in homes and business spaces across Great Britain by March 2020, of which 17.3 million were smart meters working in smart mode.
Admittedly, while smart meters aren’t an automatic silver bullet to help bring down energy bills, they do provide consumers with a highly accurate reading, helping them make decisions in a more quickfire way. The real change comes from having the right information at your fingertips. By having a smart meter installed, consumers can start to adopt habits more conducive towards bringing down costs by cutting down on the types of energy usage they don’t need. Shaunagh and the team at Bulb are strong proponents of smart meters for this reason.
“We’re big believers that smart meters can help people understand their energy usage more easily, which in turn helps them save money and cut their carbon emissions. We’re working hard to offer a smart meter to all our members who want one.”
Smart meters have a demonstrable impact on consumer behaviour when it comes to household energy use, as evidenced by a 2017 poll conducted by Populus and commissioned by Smart Energy GB. When asked, 86 per cent of respondents with smart meters admitted that having them aided with making energy-saving changes. Most encouragingly, these changes in behaviour weren’t a flash in the pan, and respondents stuck to these changes for months or years afterwards.
Bulb looks to a carbon-neutral future
Bulb has been a dedicated supplier of heating gas which is 100 per cent carbon-neutral for its members. Now, they are making a bold appeal to policy-makers, to open up the household energy supplier industry to greener sources.
“We’ve called on government to prioritise policies that encourage the electrification of heat, as natural gas becomes an increasingly smaller part of heating between now and 2050. For example, we think the government should take policy costs off electricity bills, to make green electricity cheaper than polluting gas, so more people can afford electric heating solutions, like heat pumps.”
In their work, Bulb has been installing energy-efficient measures in homes, and claims to have saved customers £95 million in energy bills. Not only that, but they believe they have prevented the emission of 290,000 tonnes of CO2 being emitted in the process.
For those looking for quick tips to save more money and to reduce their carbon footprint, Bulb has the following idea.
Turning your thermostat down by one degree is a simple but effective way to use less energy, save money on your bills and reduce your carbon emissions. This tiny act not only saves you £80 per year, but it also avoids 320kg of CO2 from entering the atmosphere
To put this into perspective, such a measure has the same impact on reducing carbon emissions as 160 trees would, as they absorb it from the atmosphere – enough trees to fill four tennis courts.
The choice is simple – a significant battlefield in the fight to decarbonise the economy is in our very own homes. The daily choices we make with heating and the energy providers we choose could not only save pennies, but also have an immeasurable impact on the planet for the better. Whether more of us embrace greener energy is down to us on an individual level.