There have never been more suppliers to choose from, says Ofgem

switching energy supplier

There are now 72 active energy suppliers in the UK market, according to a new set of facts & figures released by the energy regulator Ofgem – with small & medium companies making up around one fifth of the market.

  • Ofgem estimates a saving of £375 by switching away from one of the ‘big 6’ suppliers
  • Gas prices are lower in the UK compared to the average European country
  • UK electricity prices are around average
  • 2.1 million electricity customers switched suppliers during the first half of 2018

In 2014, new regulations made it easier for smaller ‘independent’ energy companies to enter the market, providing some much-needed competition for the so-called ‘big 6’ who up until then had dominated the industry. Eversmart Energy launched in 2016 with an aim to educate energy customers who were paying too much, and moving them onto cheaper tariffs.

Since then, record numbers of people have switched suppliers, thanks largely to the internet and greater choice for consumers.

You can see the full set of findings below. Click or tap on the image to view the full-size version.

Ofgem infographic

Infographic by Ofgem

‘Flexible charging’ could make it cheaper to run an electric car

flexible grid

New proposals by Ofgem could cut the cost of running an electric car and allow 60% more vehicles to be charged at once.

The energy regulator Ofgem has put forward a set of proposals that would encourage EV owners to charge their cars outside of peak periods – when demand is lower or when renewable energy is more readily available.

Flexible energy tariffs are already available for domestic electricity customers, where electricity is cheaper at certain times of day. A similar scheme for electric cars could increase capacity by at least 60% without having to build new power stations, says Ofgem. Instead, vehicle owners could take advantage of abundant renewable energy when it’s windy or sunny.

Preparing for the smart grid

electric vehicle
New petrol & diesel vehicles will be phased out and replaced by electric by 2040. Image source.

In the future, electric cars could collectively be used to store excess renewable energy when supply out-strips demand, selling the power back to the grid when needed. Doing so could reduce costs not just for vehicle owners, but electricity customers in general.

“The way we generate, transport and use electricity – and power our cars – is undergoing a radical transformation in Great Britain” says Jonathan Brearley, executive director of systems and networks at Ofgem. “Ofgem will ensure that the energy system is fit for this exciting, cleaner future and at the lowest cost for consumers.”

The National Grid is preparing for a phase of rapid change, as electric vehicles are set to replace petrol & diesel cars by 2040.

Vehicle owners would need a smart meter as well as a smart charger to take advantage of cheaper off-peak energy. For now, the flexible charging system is still in the planning & consultation stage.

Government launches ‘Road to Zero’ strategy to reduce vehicle emissions

hybrid car

The government has laid out plans for ‘at least half of new cars to be ultra low emission by 2030’, as part of its new ‘Road to Zero’ strategy announced yesterday.

The strategy explains how the government intends to meet its ultimate goal of banning new petrol & diesel vehicles by 2040. Low emission diesel and hybrid vehicles will play a role in the eventual shift over to fully-electric cars. The government wants the UK to be ‘the best place in the world to build and own an electric vehicle’.

More charging points

The government wants to see charging points built into all new street lights, new homes and other buildings such as offices. £400 million will be poured into expanding the existing charging infrastructure, putting more charging points in public spaces and service stations.

The strategy also mentions a £40 million fund for developing new charging technologies.

charging points
The government wants to see a massive expansion of the public charging network. Image source.

Financial incentives

The plan admits that electric and low-emission vehicles are still relatively expensive, and outlines a number of financial incentives for people to take up green vehicles – including the extension of the plug-in car grant, possibly as far as 2020.

There will also be a £500 incentive for EV owners to install a charging point in their own home, with similar grants for workplaces.

Hybrid cars will not be banned

BMW i8
Hybrid cars such as the BMW i8 (pictured) will not be banned after 2040

In a move that has been praised by the motor industry, hybrid cars will not be banned after 2040.

Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car? magazine, told the Press Association the government was “starting to listen to the automotive industry’s concerns”.

“The fear was that the government would force the uptake of full electric vehicles – something that the car-buying public have yet to show an interest in… Instead, this news gives the freedom for a more phased uptake of technologies, including part-electric hybrids, as well as the option for alternative power sources to emerge, such as hydrogen.”

Working with the energy industry

The ‘Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce’ will be created to get the energy and automotive industries talking to each other to plan for huge increase in demand for electricity and infrastructure.

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, said: “The coming decades are going to be transformative for our motor industry, our national infrastructure and the way we travel. We expect to see more change in the transport sector over the next 10 years than we have in the previous century.”

“The Road to Zero Strategy sets out a clear path for Britain to be a world leader in the zero emission revolution – ensuring that the UK has cleaner air, a better environment and a stronger economy.”

What are the pros and cons of solar panels?

pros and cons of solar panels

If you’re thinking about getting solar panels installed on your rooftop, you’re not alone – there are almost 1 million solar installations in the UK already! To help you decide if solar panels are right for you, our experts have compiled a list of some of the major pros and cons of solar panels.

Note – if you’re looking for even more ways to reduce your living costs, you can save up to £400 per year by switching to Eversmart – we’re one of the UK’s cheapest energy suppliers. Get a quote in under 2 minutes here.

Read on for our top pros and cons of solar panels:

 

Advantages of solar energy

Advantages of solar energy

Save & make money

Let’s be honest – who doesn’t love saving money! A home solar system actually saves and makes money in 3 different ways:

1. Cheaper electricity bills

The more sunlight your panels soak up and turn into electricity, the less you will have to buy from your electricity supplier – which means cheaper energy bills! The exact amount you can save depends on a whole range of factors – such as the number of panels, which part of the country you live in, and your typical energy usage – but the Energy Saving Trust estimate that a typical household in the south of England could save as much £220 per year.

2. The Generation Tariff (formerly the Feed-in Tariff)

The old feed-in tariff, where the government paid you per unit of clean energy you produced, was launched in April 2010 ended in January 2016. The rates were much more generous than they are now, leading to a solar power boom in the early years of this decade.

The new scheme gives you a set amount of money per unit of electricity you produce (in pence per kilowatt hour). The rate you get varies depending on a number of factors – you can find out more on the government’s website.

The Energy Saving Trust estimate that you can make between £115–£160 per year from the generation tariff.

3. The export tariff

What happens to the electricity that you don’t get around to using? You can sell up to half of it back into the grid. The National Grid will give you 4.85p per unit of electricity sold. The EST estimate that you could make up to £105 per year from exporting.

So to summarise – a big installation in the right part of the country in the right conditions could make you up to £485 better off per year.

It’s good for the environment

Solar power is a clean and renewable energy source. It doesn’t produce carbon dioxide or any other harmful greenhouses gasses, and unlike fossil fuels it will never run out (at least not in the next few billion years!)

Experts estimate that you can save around 1.2–1.7 tonnes of carbon from being released into the atmosphere per year.

They are low-maintenance

A typical set of rooftop solar panels will last for around 25 years, making them a great long-term investment. Once installed, they require very little in the way of maintenance other than a quick clean every now and then.

They work in bad weather

It’s a common misconception that solar panels only work where it’s hot & sunny. They work just fine in the UK and they can still generate power even when it’s cloudy. The UK actually has the sixth highest solar capacity in the world!

 

Disadvantages of solar energy

Disadvantages of solar energy

Big up-front cost

Solar panels aren’t cheap – a new system typically costs around £5,000 to £8,000 to install. The good news is that energy saving products such as solar panels qualify for the reduced rate of VAT in UK – 5% instead of the usual 20%.

The system will pay for itself eventually, so to get the best value from your panels you shouldn’t be planning on moving any time soon.

It’s difficult to store energy

Solar panels only produce electricity during daylight hours, and you really have to use it there and then if you don’t want it to disappear back into the grid. You can use batteries to store the excess juice and save it for when you need it, but the battery arrays are expensive.

Technology is improving however and prices may eventually come down, making them a more attractive investment. The Tesla Powerwall is one example of domestic battery storage that could make storing solar energy more feasible in the future, but for now the battery and associated hardware costs just under £6,000.

You house & roof may not be suitable

For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, solar panels work best on a south-facing roof. If you roof faces east & west, the effectiveness of your panels will be reduced. Your roof also needs to be big enough to accommodate the panels (things like skylights, chimneys and dorma windows can get in the way) and should ideally have a pitch of around 30-40 degrees. Solar panels may not be a great idea if your roof is often shaded by trees or tall buildings.

You can’t install them yourself

Technically you could install your own DIY solar array if you really wanted to, but it’s not recommended. For starters, you won’t be immediately eligible for the generation tariff. The system would first have to be certified by an MCS-accredited engineer, who may be reluctant to sign-off a system that they didn’t install or supervise.

They might make your home more difficult to sell

According to research from consumer website Which?, two thirds of estate agents said that solar panels make no difference to a home’s value. 16% actually thought they would lower the price of a house, and just 8% thought they would increase property value.

That said, having solar panels can improve your home’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and the benefits of the generation and export tariffs will be passed on to the new owners.

 

Have you recently had solar panels fitted? Do you think it was worth it? What advice would you give to somebody thinking about getting them? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

Ten of the World’s Greenest Football Stadiums

Green football stadiums

The 2018 World Cup kicks off in Russia later this month, so what better time to take a look at some of the most eco-friendly, energy efficient football stadiums in the world.

Stadium owners around the globe have been making big steps to cut the environmental impact of these huge energy-hungry buildings, from covering roofs in solar panels to recovering & recycling rainwater. And it’s not just national stadiums and top-flight clubs that are going green – one non-league English team features on our list, with one of the most eco-friendly football grounds in the world!

You can check out the full list in the infographic below. If you would like to re-publish it on your own website or blog, we have included some easy embed codes at the bottom.

(Click or tap on the image for a better view).

Green Football Stadiums - Infographic by Eversmart Energy

Use this infographic on your own website

Simply copy & paste the below code into your website editor.

<img src="https://www.eversmartenergy.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/green-stadiums-infographic.jpg" alt="Green Football Stadiums - Infographic by Eversmart Energy" width="800" height="7779" /> <p>Infographic by <a href="https://www.eversmartenergy.co.uk/">Eversmart Energy</a></p>

Scotland sets new 90% carbon reduction target

Edinburgh

The Scottish government has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2050. This exceeds the UK’s overall target of 80%, making it one of the most ambitious climate change targets in the world.

The Climate Change Bill

The Climate Change Bill, which was introduced last week, sets out to cut emissions by 90% compared to 1990 levels. The Scottish government says that the 90% target is “at the very limit of feasibility”, but that they are eager to push the target right up to 100% as soon as realistically possible. At this point the country would achieve “net-zero” emissions – where 100% of the carbon released into the atmosphere is captured or offset.

  • The Scottish government claims that the Climate Change Bill is the toughest and most ambitious in the world
  • Scotland will include a fair share of all international aviation and shipping in its targets
  • The targets will cover all greenhouse gasses – such as methane and nitrogen oxides – not just carbon dioxide
  • As soon as the technology exists to deliver the 100% target, it will be written into law

Scotland’s track-record

Scotland has an impressive track-record when it comes the climate change targets. The country has already reduced emissions by 38% since 1990 – Sweden and Finland are the only industrialised European nations that have done better.

Its unique climate and geology means that Scotland can generate large amounts of renewable energy, particularly from wind and hyrdo. In 2015, renewable sources accounted for over half of Scotland’s electricity consumption.

The Scottish Parliament building

Criticism

Some climate change campaigners have criticised the bill for not being ambitious enough, stating that the 100% target needs to be brought forward in order to meet the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Scottish ministers have pointed out that they took on independent advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change, and that the current target is at the limit of what is feasible right now.

Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said that: “Our climate change bill sets out our commitment to reduce emissions by 100 per cent with ambitious interim targets which strengthen Scotland’s world-leading position on climate change.”

“Our 90 per cent target will be tougher even than the 100 per cent goal set by a handful of other countries, because our legislation will set more demanding, legally-binding, annual targets covering every sector of our economy.”

“By 2030, we will cut emissions by two-thirds and, unlike other nations, we will not use carbon offsetting, where other countries are paid to cut emissions for us, to achieve our goal.”

How do I find out who my gas and electricity supplier is?

How do I find out who my gas and electricity supplier is?

Have you just moved, or are about to move house? Or perhaps you’ve simply lost track of your paperwork. Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to find out which company supplies your gas and electricity. There are various ways to find out who your energy supplier is – read on to find out.

Before you do anything else… find a bill

It sounds obvious, but before you try anything else, see if you can dig out an old bill or letter from your energy provider. If you manage to get your hands on one, it should have the name and/or logo of your supplier on it, along with their contact details. It may also be worth searching through your old emails.

Obviously this won’t work if you have just moved house. If you’re moving into a rented property, there’s a chance your landlord or letting agency may know who your current supplier is.

If you still can’t find out, move on to one of the methods below.

Finding your gas supplier

Finding out who supplies your gas is easy – you just need to call the Meter Point Administration Service (also known as the Meter Number Helpline). Tell them your postcode and first line of your address, and they will give you the name of your current supplier along with your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN).

Their number is 0870 608 1524.

The Meter Point Administration Service operates nationwide and calls are charged at 7p per minute.

Finding your electricity supplier

To find out who your electricity supplier is, you will need to call your local distribution company. The number you call will depend on which region of the country you live in – take a look at the map below to find out who to call in your area.

Finding your local distribution company
Call your local distribution company to find out who supplies your electricity. Click on the image to expand.

Here’s a list of distribution companies along with their phone numbers:

Region Distribution Company Phone Number
Northern Scotland Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks 0800 048 3515
Central & Southern Scotland SP Energy Networks 0330 1010 300
North East England & Yorkshire: Northern Powergrid 0800 011 3332
North West England Electricity North West 0800 195 4141
Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales & North Shropshire SP Energy Networks 0330 1010 300
East Midlands & West Midlands Western Power Distribution 0800 096 3080
South Wales & South West England Western Power Distribution 0800 096 3080
London, South East England & Eastern England UK Power Networks 0845 601 4516
Southern England Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks 0800 048 3516
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Electricity Networks 03457 643 643
Republic of Ireland ESB Networks 00353 1850 372 757

The distributor will tell you the name of your electricity supplier as well as your Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN). The cost of the call varies depending on which number you need to call.

 

While you’re here… Are you thinking about switching energy suppliers? You could save up to £300 per month by switching to Eversmart – get a quote here.

The shifting trends in global energy use

global energy architecture

The way the world generates its energy is shifting dramatically, as populations grow and demand in developing nations increases. In the 21st century alone global energy demand has almost doubled, creating challenges for governments and energy producers worldwide.

The blogging team at Roof Stores have sifted through the data and created a fascinating infographic that puts the big numbers into perspective and highlights some surprising trends and patterns.

Take a look at the full infographic below and let us know your thoughts in the comments!

global energy architecture infographic

How to save energy when you drive

energy saving driving

The home isn’t the only place where you can save energy. According to a study by the AA, you can save as much as 33% on fuel just by making a few changes to your driving habits.

Check your tyres

As well as being dangerous, worn or under-inflated tyres can reduce fuel efficiency. Check your tyre pressure regularly – especially before a long journey.

Check your oil

Make sure you have the right amount of oil in your engine (especially if you own an older vehicle) and be sure to use the correct type of oil. Check your manufacturer’s handbook if you are unsure which specification you should be using.

Get your car serviced regularly

Most manufacturers recommend getting your car serviced every twelve months or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Lose weight

The more weight your car is carrying, the more fuel you will use. If an item doesn’t need to be in your car, leave it at home.

Your car doesn’t need to warm up

This is an old practice that belongs in the past. Experts say that modern engines need no more than 30 seconds to warm up, and that your car will warm up more quickly when it’s moving anyway. There’s no need to start the car several minutes before travelling – doing so will simply waste fuel.

Scrape ice in the winter

Using a scraper or a de-icer spray is better than leaving the car idling and waiting for the ice to melt.

Plan ahead

Getting lost and/or stuck in slow moving traffic wastes fuel. Plan your route and check the traffic news before setting off on a long journey.

Smoothly does it

Rapid starting and stopping eats up a lot of fuel. Pull away gently, look ahead and anticipate hazards to avoid harsh braking. Try to avoid coming to a complete stop by approaching junctions slowly and looking ahead.

Change gear early

The AA recommends changing gear when your revs reach around 2,000 rpm (in a diesel car) or 2,500 (petrol).

Be careful with the air con

Turning on the air conditioning causes your car to use more fuel. At low speeds, it may be better to just open a window instead. Save the air con for higher speeds, where opening a window would create extra drag and hamper your fuel efficiency.

Turn off unnecessary electrics

Your car’s electrical systems draw power from the battery, which in turn is charged-up by using fuel. Turn off things like lights, window heaters and de-misters if you don’t need them.

Things you shouldn’t do:

Coasting – Some people believe that rolling along out of gear will save fuel. According to the AA, the fuel savings are negligible (especially in modern cars) and it’s dangerous, as you don’t have full control of the vehicle.

Turning off your engine instead of idling – This is only advisable if you expect to be stopped for over 3 minutes (for example at a level crossing or in heavily gridlocked traffic), your engine is warm, and you have a good battery. Otherwise, the extra fuel needed to start your engine again will negate any fuel saved by switching it off. It’s also not kind to your battery.

Over to you!

Do you have any eco-driving tips of your own? Let us know in the comments section.

The UK just went three days without using coal power

coal power

The UK has just gone for a record-breaking 3 days without using any electricity from burning coal. The last time that happened was in the 19th century!

The country was runnng on nuclear, gas and renewables for a total of 76 hours, smashing the previous record of 55 hours set just last week, and far exceeding the 24-hour coal-free period from last April.

Demand for energy dropped during the recent period of warm weather, allowing other sources to cover the country’s needs without having to rely on ‘dirty’ power from coal.

According to the National Grid, gas power did most of the heavy lifting during the 3 day period, providing just over 30% of the total power used. Wind power came in second place with 25%, followed by nuclear at 23%. Other sources (including imported energy from Europe and biomass generation) accounted for around 15%. Solar power came in last with 6%.

UK electricty mix

Drop in demand

Coal power did experience a temporary spike in demand during the recent cold snap caused by the ‘beast from the east’. An increase in gas being used for heating reduced the amount available for power generation, causing coal power plants to come online.

Despite this, experts are expecting an overall drop in demand for coal, with the National Grid forecasting lower demand this summer compared to 2017, and two coal plants expected to close later this year.

Industry experts are optimistic that we will hit more renewable energy milestones in the coming year. “Ever rising renewable capacity in the UK will see these records fall more and more frequently, clearly showing progress made over the past decade or two,” said Jonathan Marshall, an analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.