A short guide to switching electricity and gas supplier

I think all of us have considered switching Electricity or Gas suppliers at some point especially when we get what seems like an expensive bill in. But most of us never really follow through because it just seems like so much hassle. Whilst others think that the lower prices will be at the expense of quality or reliability.

However with the number of sites that are now dedicated to providing you with as much information as possible on all aspects of the energy providers there really is no excuse for not doing some homework and making an informed decision regarding which energy supplier is best for you.

Going ahead with the switch
First of all you need to find your new supplier; this is essential and helps ensure that your service will be uninterrupted. By applying to your new supplier first they will make all the necessary arrangements with the supplier you are leaving so there is no extra hassle or worrying about cut off dates etc.

Normally when you switch service to a new provider you will receive some kind of new customer incentive which can be anything from discounted rates to a cuddly toy.
So if you’ve lost confidence in your current provider start doing your homework and switch to an energy supplier that suits you.

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Solar energy in the UK

There used to be a perception that solar power maybe wasn’t the brightest idea for the UK given that – compared to Spain, Australia and quite a few other places too – we don’t exactly get the lion’s share of balmy days when even the the pavement’s scorching and all the mercury can do is race its way to the top of the thermometer.

However, the relationship between hot weather and solar panels doesn’t actually matter – since it’s light that allows solar panels to produce electrical power, not heat. And on top of this, you don’t need a cloudless day for a photovoltaic system to work. This is because while direct sunlight is obviously an optimum condition for energy production, there’s still light on days when there’s cloud cover. This more diffused type light will still be of use – it’s just that not quite so much electricity will be produced.

And, of course, given that photovoltaics are gaining in popularity worldwide, the actual panels themselves are more efficient than back in the days when they were a bit more of an unusual thing to see in a domestic setting than they are now.

This week Wrexham Council in Wales completed installing a large number of solar panels on homes in the area – 3000 to be precise. The combined positive effect of these on the environment will over time be a significant contribution to green energy in the UK – and will also help save some money too.

If you’re interested in what solar panels can do for you, there’s some good information available online – click here for the lowdown on cost and a guide to potential savings and income from installing a PV system.

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Renewable energy – The missing link

This is a great video from those clever people at Ted.com, the speaker is David Sadoway who has been looking into what type of battery can be used to store renewable energy so that we can still make use of it even when the suns not out and the winds not blowing.

The video is a great insight into the potential future of renewable energy and is a great argument boost towards the realisation of renewable energy as a sustainable source of power for the future.

Possibly the most inspiring part of the talk is David’s willingness to think about these problems from a different perspective his philosophy is “We need to think about the problem differently. We need to think big. We need to think cheap.”


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Denmark offer renewable energy insight for other nations

Denmark has long been one of Europe’s leading renewable energy adopters and they have managed to maintain a steady pace with regards to increasing the amount of energy they produce from renewable sources.
Now the Danes are offering their renewable energy model for other nations to copy and help generate their own renewable energy supply. At the moment around 28% of Danish energy comes from renewables but they are aiming high and want to see 50% by 2020 and as much as 100% by 2050.

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Will the UK boiler scrappage scheme return?

Launched just over two years ago,  the UK boiler scrappage scheme was introduced as an efficient and helpful way of further reducing the UK’s carbon emissions.

Given that the boiler accounts for such a large percentage of household energy use – estimates vary, but for most of us well over half the energy we use is for central heating and hot water. So ensuring people would move towards the newer type of energy efficient boiler was going to be more or less imperative for any government with a commitment to reducing co2 emissions.

Carbon emission targets for reduction are generally on the ambitious side, so encouraging people to get rid of older and less efficient equipment also meant that these machines were permanently taken out of use. To qualify for the boiler scrappage scheme there were a few conditions: you had to have the least efficient type of boiler and dependent on your age the boiler had to be working (under 60s) and either working or not working (over 60s).

The scheme was a great success, as many of us who take an interest in green energy and sustainability had guessed it would be. As the Energy Saving Trust‘s website says, “Unprecedented numbers of householders took advantage of the scheme to improve their heating systems and reduce their heating bills”. And not only that – the scheme also undoubtedly raised the profile of household energy efficiency.

But all good things must come to an end, and after upwards of 110 000 new boilers being installed as a direct result of the initiative, the scheme was wound down. Good news for people north of the border, however, as it was announced in January 2011 that it was to re-open in Scotland – more details here.

Will the scheme ever return UK-wide? At the moment, it’s difficult to tell – for the time being, the EST provides info on other grants and discounts that may be available, but following the closure of the scheme there haven’t as yet been any signals that it’s likely to return.

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Green sea power

Marine energy is an area where the UK excels. As a renewable energy source it’s one that we are perhaps well placed to innovate in – given the length of our coastlines, not to mention our forward looking approach to sustainables.

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Is the UK puffed out with renewable energy?

The guardian has started a three part piece on the future of renewable energy, or more accurately wind farms in the UK. This appears to have stemmed from the growing concerns regarding the cost and sight of the turbines up and down the country.

A recent report from the ENSG (Electricity Networks Strategy Group), who are seen as being the most current view from inside government, Ofgem and other key industry investors have estimated that 28.3GW of wind power (offshore and onshore combined) could have been built by 2020. This has now fallen by 4GW in only two years, and another 1GW is already scheduled to be removed from the current forecast.

This paints a worrying picture for what was a booming industry one of the largest issues aside from complaints about the aesthetics is that the cost to link the new energy sources up to the current energy distribution network has almost doubled in price up from £4.7bn to £8.8bn.

The cost is mainly to create two new underwater pipelines connecting renewable energy from the Scottish Islands to England and North Wales.

Personally I think it will be interesting to see how the previously well catered for pro-renewable groups react to these latest cuts. Part of the problem for most Britons is that they need their gas and electricity to be cheap but at the moment the renewable subsidies only seem to be adding to the bills. Whilst it is for the right reasons a lot of people in Britain can’t afford to support it just now and when nuclear is knocking on the door as a cheap and reliable alternative it only makes things harder.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any thoughts or insight?

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