Energy consumption reduction opinions sought.

Hi group,
Today I completed the monthly on line meter readings submission for my energy supplier and was presented with a bill for about £450 for the past quarter. I was amassed. The bill is paid by monthly direct debit and it just about flatted the accumulated credit in our account since our last bill. No doubt the supplier will increase my approx £110 per month direct debit as we are not out of the winter period yet. The bill is for both gas and electricity.
We switched suppliers a couple of years ago using Uswitch so we are not with the historical suppliers for the area. I will be comparing prices again soon once the playing field is level.
Our house is a semi dormer bungalow ( not a very big one ) in the North West. We have cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, double glazing, combi boiler ( 2 yrs old ), and programmable room stat. Most of our light fittings are CFL's. We have a dishwasher, tumble drier and electric oven with gas hob.
It's difficult to see how we could economise more than we do on the high consumption appliances - especially gas.
I am starting to look at the electrical consumption of low consumption items. For example, the door bell transformer is lowish consumption but powered up 24/7/365 and it is an old style one and not a Switched Mode Power Supply. I know from my electronic engineering training that the 'old style' transformers are relatively inefficient compared to SMPS - iron losses and such.
This is very much a 'started today' project but on basic calculations if the bell transformer consumed 100mA ( not yet measured it so I may be way out ) and it's powered up 8736 hrs per year ( all year ) and my supplier charges 9p per kilowatt hour ( excl VAT ) then it's costing us £18.86 per year just for the bell transformer. Our alarm system also has a 'traditional' PSU and is powered up all year. That is likely to consume more than the bell transformer as equipment IS being powered 24/7 so, on assumed consumption figures ( mA ), we are now up to more than £37 per year wasted, much of it on iron loss. I know that most modern electronic devices/appliances use SMPU power supplies.
I'm thinking of swapping power supplies for these 'traditional' items to SMPU's - easy for the door bell, not as easy for the alarm system.
We have several modern devices powered up 24/7/365, cable modem, router, network switch and the usual videos, TVs etc. I am thinking of putting these on electronic timeswitches to power them down between, say, 01.00 am to 10.00 am.
I know the real killers are tumble driers, cookers, washing machines etc as regards electricity consumption.
Basically I'm looking for any other ideas to reduce our consumption based on the info I have given.
All of the low consumption items take little power individually but added together and viewed over 12 months powered up time, savings with possible power unit conversion could be worth while.
BTW I have loads of redundant SMPS units to use so no capital outlay.
Time to get out my AC current meter and calculate just what each is costing us - then add it up.
Any suggestions ??
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Can you tell how the costs split between gas and electricity ? We find we spend about 2x as much on gas as electricity, so although it's always worth trimming back the electric bills as much as you can, the bigger savings may be made by concentrating on the heating (presumably gas CH).
If you've got any little used rooms, turn off the rads and keep the doors shut. Keep living room doors shut to reduce draughts and keep the heat where it's needed. etc etc. Turn the thermostats down by 1 or 2 degrees. Switch the heating off 30 minutes earlier in the morning and afternoon.
That sort of thing.
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Be aware that Uswitch are good at hiding some companies if they don't get a kickback.

Good idea...although I suspect it's less than you'd think.

Video and TV should just be turned off when not in use. Can leave something on if you need to record - a time switch just makes it fiddly then.

Tumble drier particularly - don't know the economics of gas ones, given initial costs.

I found our washing machine consumes nearly 10 watts on 'standby' - that is, when it's finished the wash but not been turned off at the wall.
I've built some low consumption PCs since some have to be on all the time. The firewall (a FreeBSD machine) is under 20 watts.
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I'm using an "intelligent" power strip, which switches off all the ancillary kit when the PC is powered off. A little like this kind of thing;
http://tinyurl.com/ccxmwm

I run Softwall on an old Dell Optiplex for my firewall. That gets switched on and off by the "intelligent" power switch. It seems to have survived so far. :o)
All three PCs (mine, my wifes and the f/w), use less power between them than the Sun I have just retired ...
Actually, I have a problem with the switch. My wife and my PCs are both plugged into the sense port, mine directly and my wife's via a 10M mains extension. It appears that my wife's PC (an HP Pavilion) doesn't draw enough current to reliably switch the power strip, in that it switches off once the machine has initially powered up... Obviously I need to experiment with this (I don't want to - there's a rat's nest of wiring) but could it be that the extension lead is somehow confusing the "intelligent" switch?
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JDT2Q wrote:

the tumble dryer's an easy one. http://www.wiki.diyfaq.org.uk/index.php?title=Clothes_Dryer

small ones are, yes.

3w would be more realistic.

exactly, and those are tacklable. Tumble dryer: as described in the wiki link Foods: use lids on pans, turning the gas all the way down Veg: nuke rather than boil, add 1tb of butter & water first, they taste better too. Oven: put foods to be cooked in without preheating the oven. The foods ready a couple of minutes sooner, and you lose 5 minutes of on time. If you use a pc as a router, make it an old laptop

right... should be esy to replace the wallwarts then. But I'd check the smpsus dont use just as much. Dont assume theyre more efficient, but they will usually eat less when on standby.

yes - measure everything, the power consumption. You need an rms reading meter, a standard ammeter wont be much use.
NT
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On Wed, 4 Feb 2009 00:13:17 -0000, JDT2Q wrote:

You don't say how much is actually electric of that bill, I would expect gas to be the majority, but assuming you are only targeting the electric I would start by grabbing a whole house energy meter (owl, eco-eye, efergy etc). They are not 100% accurate, they don't need to be, they are only a quick method of targeting whats taking the power.
Also re-switch the computer and tv gear onto separate gang plugs where needed so that one whole set can turn off with one switch and leave on the sky+/recorder as needed. That alone saved me £10 per month.
Your likely to find that things like the bell use almost nothing, and the bigger items like the fridge/freezer that are using the most, but you may find others that catch you out. The meter helps find what the usage is, but is also helpful in enforcing a habit of switching things off, or using things less (like a kettle etc)
Steve
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Steve wrote:

Talking about the kettle, I am amazed how many folk still use a kettle to make a cup of coffee or tea. Shove a shovel of coffee granules ( I just tip the required amount direct from the jar being a former lab. chemist and still able to assess volumes), zap the microwave (90 seconds in our unit of 850W) and bingo. If tea, then similar but teabag inserted after heating! Shorter time than in the kettle, not heating the kettle with minimal energy heating the turntable.
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Clot wrote:

Sure. why bother with a 100% efficient kettle when you can use a 30% efficient microwave to do the same job.
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The Natural Philosopher wrote:

<>
Ah - I was going to point out that you cannot make a cup of coffee from granules. (You can make a brown liquid with something that vaguely reminds you of coffee. I don't - rather do without.)
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Rod

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And it's not quicker anyway, having nothing better to do I timed our kettle (3Kw jug type with a plate type element).
With the it containing water up to the minimum mark - about 1 2/3 mugs it brought it to boiling in 55 secs.
and whilst hot water might be ok for instant coffee, you need boiling water for tea (though if you are just waving a tea bag in a cup maybe it's a moot point) Proper coffee and tea in a tea pot here though
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Chris French


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chris French wrote:

Thanks for this, Chris. I've often thought that I ought to do the same thing myself but never found a roundtuit.
My calcs for a mug of instant coffee based upon data both you and I have generated is:
Kettle: 55secs. x 3000w = 165,000 wsecs. - strange units! Micro: 90secs. x 850 w = 76,500 wsecs.
Therefore, using the microwave for a single cup of coffee, (which is what I do most frequently for warm drinks) seems to consume less than 50 % of using the kettle.
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^ | That looks like a microwave output power, not input power.
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Andrew Gabriel
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Andrew Gabriel wrote:

O.K. I could be thoroughly remiss here. I thought that the figures on the units related to the power demand upon the supply. This is a useful concern that has been raised. I tend to use fuses that are related to the demand rather just accept the 13 amp fuse that is in the plug.
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Clot wrote:

I think you are using the *output* wattage - that is, the amount of heat available within the oven. The input wattage will be significantly higher. (Looking for a real figure and some sources suggest maybe 50-60% efficient.) Plus other factors such as on-running fan (no idea of wattage for that - but ours seems to do that for ages whatever we cook in it), 'standby' load (unless you switch it off religiously), light, etc.
Another issue is the well-known possibility of the contents of a mug become superheated with the potential consequences on any user who does not take precautions. (Of course, much less likely to be a real problem when done by someone familiar with the oven.)
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Rod

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wrote:

And a side issue is that virtually all instant 'coffee' is pretty awful to drink.
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Douwe Egberts is OK. And their instant decaff is the only one I've ever come across that tastes the same as the "full fat" version.
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I can't see any point in decaffeinated coffee.
It's a bit like alcohol-free beer. (well, it isn't, BYKWIM).
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Frank Erskine

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How old are you? Only, until a few years ago, I was on your side. Pointless nonsense, I thought. Then I got into my 50's and discovered that caffeinated coffee keeps me awake at night. *Then* I started getting gastritis, and discovered that caffeine and alcohol both aggravate it. All of a sudden decaff coffee doesn't seem so silly. Although I drink the real stuff in the mornings. (And indeed, I've just had an espresso and am halfway through a large mug of proper percolated.)
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On Thu, 05 Feb 2009 23:03:16 +0000 Rod wrote :

If you're familiar with your microwave you set the time so as to deliver at drinking temperature. More energy efficient than leaving a kettle to boil and waiting for your black coffee to cool down
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Clot wrote:

To test a new design, I'd been going round the house earlier today making a truepower consumption list. The 30 year old Sharp '600W' microwave running empty ... 1106W (pf 0.96). One beefburger 1130W (pf 0.95). One mug of water, the same.
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