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Workshop helps to cut energy bills

Workshop audienceKeira, Sharon, Daphne and Pat share their thoughts at the Save Energy Save Money workshop at Eccleshall Community Centre

'Knowledge is power' said the English philosopher Francis Bacon in the sixteenth century, and this still applies today, especially when you are trying to cope with the ever-rising cost of energy. Knowing how we use energy, and how to use less of it while staying comfortable can make a big difference when it comes to paying those gas and electric bills.

This was the theme of the latest in a series of workshops presented by Sustainability Matters to customers of Stafford and Rural Homes at Eccleshall Community Centre in November 2012. The presentation was led by domestic energy assessor Denise Atkinson on behalf of Sustainability Matters, and attracted a keen and appreciative audience.

Saving money without spending lots

Entitled 'Save Money, Save Energy', the workshop took an informal look at various aspects of energy in the home, and considered different ways in which householders can make savings and improvements in energy efficiency without spending lots of money. A general introduction to energy use in the home and average costs for heating and lighting, etc., was followed by a look at where our energy comes from and how its measured - can you tell your kilowatt hour from your elbow? Energy bills are another area where there is room for confusion, and we examined the small print of some real gas and electric bills so that customers can be sure they are accurate.Denise leads session

Denise Atkinson, a qualified domestic energy assessor, leads the workshop session in Eccleshall for customers of Stafford and Rural Homes

Always an eye-opener is a simple 'hands-on' exercise that gets people to rate how power-hungry they think various common appliances are (see below). Comments such as 'I m really surprised at how much electric it uses' are common, especially when we worked out how much money it takes to run, say, an iron or a tumble dryer.

Save energy on a budget

After a coffee break, the session went on to outline some easy ways to save energy on a budget, such as making sure programmers and thermostats are working to your best advantage, using powerdown devices to avoid leaving applicances such as TVs on standby, and making sure you've got the best available low-energy lightbulbs for your needs.

Questions from the audience were welcomed throughout the morning, and people shared their experiences and suggestions about the challenges of meeting energy costs on a restricted budget. As ever, participants were provided with free information sheets providing lots of useful contacts and were direccted to the Save Your Energy website, of course! 'Very good workshop' and 'Very useful event' were just two of the comments made at the end of the session.

How well do you know your appliances?

Try to sort the list of common household appliances by their power rating, starting with the most energy-hungry and ending with the lowest rated (answers below!).

Desk-top computer
Fridge
DVD player
Washing machine
Tumble dryer
Plasma TV
Games console
Dishwasher
Microwave oven
Vacuum cleaner

Want us to run a workshop like this?

If your group or organization would like to know more about the Save Energy Save Money workshops, please contact Rob Hine: email: info@saveyourenergy.org.uk or phone (01785) 603387.

Answers:

1. Tumble dryer (~3.4 to 4 kilowatts); 2. Vacuum cleaner (1.2 to 2 kilowatts); 3. Washing machine (~1 to 1.5 kilowatts); 4. Dishwasher (0.8 to 1 kilowatts); 5. Microwave oven (800 watts); 6. Games console (165 watts); 7. Plasma TV (130 watts); 8. Desk-top computer (80-100 watts in use); 9. Fridge (35 watts); 10. DVD player (20 watts in use). Note: appliances can vary in power rating according to model and brand.