I pride myself on being a bit of an eco-warrior; we reuse and recycle where possible, use resuable shopping bags 100% of the time (although living in Wales we have little choice), compost all fruit and vegetable matter and utilise the food waste initiative in place through our council, and I am instilling this in The Boy, ensuring he has a good ethos when it comes to waste management. He is sometimes better than us, insisting on something going into the recycling bin that we've said could go into the 'normal' bin.
Following a rather startling and shocking gas bill about five years ago (£600!) because of an inaccurate meter reading, and my fondness of the gas fire, we have cut right back on the amount of fuel we use. As the average household wastes £150 a year by leaving the boiler on in an empty house, the central heating is on an efficient timer which is pretty much always on during the days I'm not at work, but on a low temperature maintaining an even heat. We have thermostatic controls on every radiator, and in the rooms which aren't used often, the radiators are turned right down. I also haven't used the gas fire in three years! Not only because of the bill, but because I was too worried about The Boy!
The one area where we need a little work on our energy usage is with electricity. Granted, every light bulb in the house that could have an energy-saving light bulb in it does have one, but the dining room and kitchen lights are pretty and aren't compatible. The oven is switched off at the plug (albeit to prevent little hands from fiddling with the knobs) and we do try and turn the television off at the wall rather than leave it one standby. We rarely use the tumble dryer, but at this time of year it does tend to get more of a look-in than I'd like. However, I'm well aware that we're probably still using too much electricity and when your household income is three-quarters of what it used to be, but your outgoing 150% of what it was pre-children, trying to find anything that can help financially is a necessity.
One of the newfangled gizmos which has been created to help monitor energy usage is the British Gas smart meters. As the 2019 target set by the Government to have a smart meter in every British home is looming in the not so dim and distant future, British Gas commissioned the Oxford Economics Report which has highlighted that smart meters are a way to help us voluntarily take charge of our energy use and stay in control.
The very ingenious gadgets (one for gas and one for electric) allows for users to set the budget and input some personal information concerning the family's requirements. Real-time use culminating in a daily total is calculated as the energy is being used around the home, which can only help to guide and inform on which devices need more careful monitoring and restricting. These smart meters provide the homeowner and billpayer with control over the fuel used and the bills, an opportunity to monitor where the pennies are being spent, and peace of mind as the readings are transmitted back to British Gas daily, putting an end to inaccurate meter readings (and £600 gas bills!).