Shoestring Cottage energy crisis!

imageEven though I have now changed electricity provider after the debacle and months of arguing and lack of information from First Utility, my electricity bill is still surprisingly and worryingly high. This week we decided to purchase a monitor to measure exactly how much electricity each appliance uses and to try to establish where the high usage is.

It is early days, but the chief culprit appears to be the electric heater in DD1’s room. It is a very cold room and she has it on a lot. It is hard to make the room any warmer without knocking it down and starting again! It was created from the old outside toilet and coal rooms, which are a single layer of bricks with a bit of insulation and then plasterboard on top, as far as we can see. She also has a French window, and two other doors, which are double glazed but it is old glazing and probably not as efficient as it could be.

I have purchased a timer to restrict the amount of time the heater is on and will put some extra blankets on her bed. If she is really cold it appears it is cheaper to put the central heating on and heat the whole house rather than just her room with the electric heater. Crazy.

Mr S has also bought some more LED light bulbs to replace the old spots in the kitchen and bathroom. I didn’t realise how much cheaper these are to run, but Mr S did some research and found this in the greenage.co.uk website. ‘Each halogen bulb you replace with an LED equivalent you are potentially going to save almost £175 over its lifetime’. Stunning!

The other appliance that uses quite a lot of energy is the dehumidifier. We need this in in the winter or the condensation gets out of hand and we end up with black mould up the walls – not nice or healthy. However I am restricting this to three hours a day too.

When a childminder I know who works from home and has the lights, TV and heating on all day has cheaper energy bills than me something is going horribly wrong!!

9 thoughts on “Shoestring Cottage energy crisis!

  1. Gigibird

    I know this may seem obvious but have you checked what type of meter you have? My neighbour inherited an economy 7 meter and even though she wasn’t on that tariff because of the meter her electricity was costing her more. A LOT more.

  2. sandy

    I do not know what type of heater your daughter has but in the same situation we found that an oil filled electric heater was much less expensive to run since once the oil is warm it radiates heat out into the room without having to use more electric until the oil needs to be rewarmed. Just an idea.

  3. Abi

    I was about to post the same thing as Sandy – we used to have a ‘hot’ room when we kept a lot of exotic pets, it was cheaper to put them all in one room and heat that than have them dotted about and use heatmats and lamps. With a small oil filled radiator from Argos we heated the room easily, and it had built in thermostat and timer controls to help keep the temperature stable (which is cheaper than repeatedly heating a room from cold).

    Do you open the windows in there often? If not, and there’s enough air circulation without having them open you can pick up ‘home window glazing’ kits from Wilkos for about a fiver that help cut the amount of warm air escaping and the cold radiating in.

  4. Linda Kay

    Jane, an interesting research to find the high usage, but I do know those electric heaters do suck up the electric current. Check your attic as well to see if there is enough insulation up there…that can be a huge area of loss.

    1. ChickenladyJane Post author

      We are very well insulated as we had it done under a scheme three years ago. But this room is a single story annex with a flat roof. It was freezing this morning!

  5. Deb

    We use an electric heater that fixes to the wall and is like a square piece of plaster. Aldi had them in about 2 weeks ago, or you can get them on Ebay. They are only 400w (although I find they use about 300W per hour. These are excellent for background heat and relatively low cost. We find them as effective as much higher rated heaters, even oil filled ones, which we used previously. We use one in our conservatory, which is single skin and uninsulated and it makes quite a difference. (Have just looked, they are ceramic paintable wall heaters by winter heat) Hope this helps. Good luck – we are a high electric user too. Very frustrating!

  6. Estelle

    I’m afraid, the design and insulation of a house is everything….. We used to rent a gorgeous one bed Georgian flat with all electric, i.e. heating too. Cost nearly £200 a month to heat because although it was gorgeous, it just needed insulating.

    We decided to rent a modern little townhouse instead and pay only £60 per month for gas and electric in the winter – and we like it warm. It could be a bit cheaper if we tried harder but we prioritise being warm as we both get down if we’re sat in jumpers, hats, blankets etc.. So we budget for it via a direct debit that stays the same even in the summer, so that we accrue funds over the months with no heating and then eat in to those in the months when it’s cold – works well.

    We are saving up to buy our own place next year. We always wanted an old house with features etc. but after being in this modern place for a few years we have changed our minds…… Old is lovely but only if you can afford to strip it back and use modern methods to insulate it etc. and even then it’s not as warm as a modern house with cavity wall insulation. Those glorious words… ‘cavity wall insulation’ 🙂

    I do hope you find ways of reducing your bill – it’s scary to see how much it can all cost and better to feel a little bit in control with it.

  7. Kate R.

    When we lived in Montana (a very cold place) my son’s bedroom was an old glassed-in porch–windows around 3 walls. He used to wear his ski hat to bed in the winter. Then I made simple Roman blinds, with 3 layers of padding, for the windows. It made a huge difference. Although I have to admit the sewing job was quite tedious, it wasn’t really difficult. An old towel or sweater rolled up and placed at the base of the outside door can help, too. Good luck! Kate in Oregon

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