The One Where I Speak To The Energy Expert (and feel half smug, half exasperated)

So this was the fourth and final session in the series of coaching sessions from E.On – and this time it was with an Energy Expert.

The series of sessions is part of E.ON‘s exciting new project, in which they’re helping people to take a look at all aspects of life. It’s not about taking on a gruelling workload of Improving Tasks; it’s more about talking to experts, and learning some clever hints and tips to help me simply live life a little ‘better’. Less grinding drudgery, more skateboarding and loud off-key singing.
If I’ve learned anything from the previous three sessions, it’s the fact that I actually know NOTHING – so I was excited to see what an expert would make of our energy-saving measures as she explored our house (yes this one was also being filmed for E.ON, so the Energy Consultant expert, Dr Paula Owen, came to me)

Paula arrived – and was lovely, which is always a good start! She had a quick prowl round the house, asked a few questions, and then we got stuck in.
Turns out – we’re pretty darned good! *smug*

We started in our utility room, where our laundry appliances are both A-rated, meaning they’re as energy efficient as they can be – and we got bonus points for only using the tumble dryer in wet weather, using the line when at all possible. If I’m honest, at this time of year I probably do use it far more than I should – our dryer-less neighbours hang laundry on the line far more than I do in the winter. And I genuinely wasn’t aware that it takes something like three times more energy to dry clothes than it does to wash them. Ouch!

littlestuff utility room

Our ‘utility room’ (actually our conservatory that we filled with appliances and made into a boot room…).
9kg LG Steam Direct washing machine, small undercounter LEC fridge and BEKO 9Kg Dryer.
Plus the fold-up chairs, and an assortment of clean folded laundry that will wait there for two days for someone to notice it and put it away.

Also our second spill-over fridge (used for drinks in the summer and leftovers in the winter) is a good thing – it’s more cost-effective to run a smaller second fridge than it is to have one of the huge American double fridges apparently (Yeah, but they don’t look as pretty, do they?).

Our lighting is all energy efficient bulbs or LED’s, and our TV is fixed to an auto-off Extension Cable – which means that when we turn the TV off at the button, then the Blu-Ray, Apple TV, Xbox, Wii all go off too. The only thing that stays on is the Sky box.
Our computer equipment is all turned off every night, too.

To keep the heat in, our walls have cavity insulation, and our loft is deeply insulated too. Our heating sits at under 21 degrees for downstairs, and under 18 degrees for the bedrooms. We don’t run the heating much – never until the weather is really cold (yes, we ARE those mean parents who respond to “I’m cold” with “So put on a  JUMPER then!”), and then usually only in short bursts as it’s needed, rather than having it on all the time. In the evenings, we’ll simply light the fire in the living room, rather than heating the whole house – the children are all snugged up under thick duvets, so except for in the very coldest weather it’s only the one room we’re using that needs to be warm.

Conserving water isn’t an issue – with 6 of us sharing one bathroom, there’s never an opportunity to languish in a long hot shower (Oh, how I miss those).

So on the everyday manageable stuff – we’re pretty much doing everything we can to save energy.


There was one great big huge issue that couldn’t be ignored – and which is costing us far more than all the other ‘good stuff’ is saving us.

Our boiler.

Paula actually cringed when I told her.

We moved into this house in 1992. Our boiler (admittedly a good one, as the previous owner was a Gas Engineer) was about 5 years old at that point. Twenty one years later, we’re still trusting it to stop us from freezing each winter.

I know.

A 26 year old boiler.
(how am I even OLD enough to own a boiler of that age?)

G rated boiler control panel

THIS is what a 26yr old boiler’s control panel looks like. We’re all mod cons round here y’know.
And yes it’s grubby – but do you seriously think I’m going to take a damp cloth to it?
Are you MAD?
Bits would probably fall off, then it would cough at me and start refusing to work!


Plus of course the radiators and pipes no doubt have 21 years of silt and goo built up inside them – it takes a good ten minutes before everything actually starts to feel warm. But if we don’t think or talk about that, they’ll just keep right on working, right?

Now, we live in a 1920’s semi – but we extended to make it a large 5-bed home. At a conservative estimate, using the table below from Which? to compare it to a new condensing unit, that damned boiler is probably costing us around £700 a year in wasted energy just to heat us in the winter and give us some hot water.
So there’s not really a way round it – if we want to save money and energy, the one thing we need to do is replace that boiler.
*sigh*boiler efficiency comparison

It’s probably a good thing anyway. We already close our eyes and mutter a wish every time we hit the ‘on’ button with crossed fingers – it would be better to choose when it’s replaced, than find it coughs and dies just as we hit a Big Freeze or something.

So how do you compare to us? The E.ON team said we were better than the average household at managing our energy consumption – but I thought what we do is just simple common sense, and things that everyone else does? E.On actually have a really handy web tool, called the Saving Energy Toolkit – take a look at the video.

Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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  1. I'm a bit too much in love with these smart radiators. - LittleStuff - […] a gas engineer, and naturally he’d installed a seriously good heating system. When we were visited by an energy saving…

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