Save electricity. Bath with a friend.

My very low electric bill

In three years with Co-operative Energy, I have never read the electric meter – or even bothered to look at their on-line bills.

This isn’t a complaint about Co-operative Energy but they want to increase my standing order because they think I am in arrears by £1,161. Now thatI have read the meter, I find I have used 1179 kilowatt-hours of electricity. This should cost about £140.

After deducting standing charges, the Co-operative Energy estimate for my electricity is roughly £1800. That is just about the average electricity cost for the time they have supplied me.

I have used less than one tenth of the average household electricity use. How did this happen?

Bath with a friend

That was just a catchy title taken from a Guardian piece by Martin Wainright:

I was the newest reporter on the London Evening Standard when the rain last stopped falling in the summer of 1976…. it was so lovely being warm and languid all the time, if not very clean. The most popular T-shirt/car sticker/badge that summer was “Save Water, Bath With A Friend”, and, uncomfortably unerotic as it tended to be, lots of us tried.

If I have tried this, it was so long ago that I can’t remember but I do share heating with others even though not in the bath. I often share heating in pubs and coffee bars and occasionally in the cinema or on trains. At these times, I need no heat in the flat but when I’m there I manage with the electric storage heaters switched off nearly all of the time. The exception is when I get worried temperatures might approach freezing and I panic about the possibility of frozen pipes.

When it is too cold to sit at a table with my computer, I go to a coffee bar, pub or lie down under a duvet and listen to the radio. Mostly, I don’t actually sleep in a bed but on a settee surrounded by duvets – the back adds more insulation. I don’t use the bath but do use the electric shower. I hardly ever switch on the electric cooker.

My electricity use is mostly shower, kettle, microwave, radio, laptop and fridge. That’s why my daily consumption of 1 KwHr is a small fraction of the average.

Modern Inglenooks

One thing I do to keep the flat feeling warmer is mimic some of the ideas outlined in Fuel Poverty and Inglenooks,  which advocates creating localised, indoor spaces which keep warmer than the rest of the dwelling. Why heat and insulate 300 cubic metres of living space to keep a person warm who occupies one or two cubic metres?

When in the flat, I spend most of my time in the largest room. Its main focus is a settee with low table surrounded by surfaces that do not absorb wooden bookshelves, stainless steel shelving with clothes hanging on it and barriers of those large clear plastic storage boxes containing various possessions- mostly unsorted, but dust free, junk.

This large room could be cold and draughty – the house is 200 years old with ill fitting windows. The “furniture” changes this and for me is a delight to be in. Even when it is cold, I rarely feel the draft.

Now to ring Co-operative Energy.


Co-operative Energy are sending a new bill.

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