Tag Archives | Bord Gais

Top VI Tips on Saving Water (and ultimately saving you money soon)

If you're reading this, you're probably on a PC with internet filtering, or a poor connections, so you're missing a picture of a Bord Gais leaflet announcing Irish WaterJust this morning, Bord Gais posted this notice through our door in Dublin. We all know we’re getting water charges imposed on us soon, but I’m guessing that this is the first official notice on a house by house basis.

We’re more than likely going to be charge on a flat rate basis initially, but eventually (and we should be demanding it as soon as possible) we should be moving to a metered charge.

With all that in mind, it’s never too soon to be looking at your household usage of water (even if your motivation is purely financial rather than the environmental motivations we’re probably supposed to have had already).

Here, then, are the top VI tips on what you should be doing, even now, to save water in your household:

  1. Stop Running – You should never do anything with water that involves leaving the tap running (unless you’re in the shower, which should only take you 4 minutes). So, when brushing your teeth, shaving, washing your hands, cleaning vegetables or rinsing dishes don’t leave the tap running while you’re doing it. You could even keep a jug of water in the fridge to save you leaving the cold tap run just to get nice cold water to drink.
  2. Load Up – Whenever you are washing stuff in machines (dishes, clothes) only turn on the machine when it has a full load. (That could extend to sharing the shower as well, but that’s up to you). But remember, don’t load up with boiling the kettle – only boil what you need to save both water and energy.
  3. Shower Time – If you do take showers, try to keep them short remembering that power showers use maybe 4 times more water than gravity fed ones. You could also shave and brush your teeth in the shower as well – saving time, and water.
  4. Fix Stuff – We can all convince ourselves we don’t hear the dripping, but don’t ignore broken water pipes, taps or tanks – even if only minor problems. Fix problems immediately, and if you need to replace anything, make sure it’s the most water efficient version (e.g. dual flush, low profile toilet cisterns and aerated water taps). Take preventative measures as well by insulating cold water pipes to prevent bursts, You could even insulate hot water pipes for more immediate hot water at the tap.
  5. Garden Care – Given how much rain we normally get, you shouldn’t need much additional water in your garden. You could also Choose plants that don’t need much watering. You should also save on the rainy day but collecting rainwater for watering plants and the lawn at other times. Try not to use a hose, but if you must, get a trigger nozzle to reduce wastage.
  6. Mellow Yellow – I can’t find out where this originally came from, but a particularly extreme way of saving water involves limiting how often you flush the toilet. As the saying goes, ‘If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down.’
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Tell the CER what you think about Gas/Electricity rises

The Irish Independent today wrote that the energy regulator, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) are having a public consultation meeting where:

CONSUMERS will get a chance to air their views on proposed price increases in gas and electricity.

This opportunity is being provided because of the fact that gas will increase by 4.2% and electricity by 5.8% on January 1st, 2009.

The public meeting is planned for 10am on Monday November 10th, in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin 1. Almost as handy a time to hold a meeting as the Consumer Association of Ireland AGM. You’d almost think that they didn’t want anyone to attend.

The public meeting is expected to last until 1.15pm and will involve presentations from the CER, Bord Gais and the ESB. The full meeting details are available here.

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Saving Money on your Gas and Electricity Bills

It’s a couple of weeks now since the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) admitted that the ESB and Bord Gais would be allowed increase their charges to customers – despite the fact that their fuel costs will have dropped by 20% in the last 3-4 weeks.

We could go on about the fact that this is yet another useless government quango that amazingly describes its mission as “acting in the interests of consumers is to ensure that: the prices charged are fair and reasonable”.

But we won’t! We’ll be a whole lot more positive and provide a listing of simple Top Tips that you can apply to your day to day lives which should cut down on your usage of both gas and electricity. This is something that I’ve successfully done in the past, and continue to do today. With a little bit of thought and effort, you could at least save yourself the cost of any price increases.

Here’s our Top Tips to reduce your electricity costs:

  • Unplug your phone charger when its not actually charging a phone.
  • Turned off your TV/Video/DVD/Digital box at the wall at night – equipment on stand-by uses up to 20% of the energy it would use when fully on.
  • As your light bulbs go out, replace them with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) – it’ll be the law soon anyway. These bulbs use 20% of the energy and last up to 15 times as long (though they are initially more expensive to buy).
  • Always make sure to always switch off lights when you leave a room – energy is wasted lighting unoccupied rooms. Also, there’s rarely need for lights on in hallways if you’re not there – though I know it’s an “Irish thing” to have lights on in the hallway when you’re home.
  • A simple thing that can be done every time you make a cup of tea – and I used to always fall foul of this myself. Stop overfilling the kettle – only boil as much water as you need.
  • It’s said that you should avoid unnecessary electricity use between 5pm and 7pm. For me, I’m rarely home before 7 anyway.
  • If you need to replace any home appliances (such as fridges, cookers or boilers), make sure you select A rated models which will be much more efficient.
  • Don’t forget to use half load or economy programme on your washing machine, dishwasher or tumble dryer if you’re not filling them up. Alternatively, just wait for a full load.
  • The temptation these days with always-on broadband is to leave your computer always on as well. Turning your computer whenever you’re not using it for more than an hour, and especially overnight and during the day if you’re at work could save you 25% of the cost of powering your computer for the year.
  • Do you really need a tumble dryer? After the fridge, they’re the second biggest user of electricity in the household. Can you line dry your clothes instead?
And here’s our Top Tips to reduce your gas costs:
  • Check the level your heating is turned to – I turned down my heating to 20ºC. By lowering your thermostat by 1ºC, it will knock 10% off your heating bill.
  • You should also regularly check the timing settings for your central heating – do you need it on for as long as it’s currently set to be on? Even cut 10 minutes here and there.
  • Keep your curtains closed in the evenings – otherwise heat can escape through the windows. But if you have south facing windows, leave them open during the day to take in any heat that we might get in the coming months.
  • Check which rooms have heat turned on in them. If you absolutely need to have heat on in those rooms, keep the doors closed – otherwise switch off the heat in those rooms.
  • In such unused rooms, make sure that the windows and air vents are closed properly. Reducing drafts through the whole house will do two things – save energy on normal heating costs, and will remove any temptation to turn on the heat if people are feeling cold.
  • Do you have leaky taps or shower heads especially hot water taps? Get them fixed as soon as possible to reduce wasting your hot water.
  • Use less hot water wherever possible. Don’t wash your teeth, or shave, or wash the dishes under running hot water taps. Take a shower in the morning rather than a bath in the evening.
  • If you’ve a gas cooker, remember that you lose 20% of the heat in the oven every time you check your dinner. Make sure you use a ring size to suit the saucepan you’re using, and always place the saucepan dead centre on the ring.
  • Make sure to switch off all your central and hot water heating if you’re away for the day, or for the weekend.
  • Always make sure your radiators are not covered over, or left hiding behind furniture. The clearer the space around a radiator, the better the circulation of heat around the room from it.
Remember, all these tips are things to you can pretty much do right now. You don’t need to spend any big money to start. Just do it now and save yourself some cash.
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VI Better Information 18-May-2008

The Value Ireland slogan is “Better Purchasing Decisions through Better Information”. Where we have information to share, but which won’t take up a full-length post, we’re planning on beginning the VI Better Information series – bring together the most important and relevant consumer news for Irish consumers.
  • The Sunday Business Post today published its research into the prices charged to Irish consumers by British retailers based here in Ireland. According to the article “Irish shoppers are paying up to 50 per cent more than their British counterparts for many goods sold by British retailers”. The response from the National Consumer Agency was that Ann Fitzgerald “said shoppers should boycott British retailers that charged significantly higher prices in Ireland”. Don’t forget though, some Irish stores do this as well. I wonder is Ann Fitzgerald calling on Irish consumers to boycott Dunnes Stores as well – because of this, or because of this, or should we just boycott the British stores that rip us off.
  • From Damien Mulley, read here how Vodafone double charged a customer who pays monthly via credit card – and it was only noticed by the customer and not Vodafone themselves. Knowing how credit card charges are made in such big companies, it’s likely that more than this one customer was impacted. So, if you pay Vodafone monthly via credit card, check your credit card statement that you haven’t been double charged recently.
  • From AskAboutMoney, another warning, this time for O2 customers. A customer who upgraded their phone but paid for it through their monthly O2 bill was charged VAT twice for the phone purchase. Again, if you’ve been in a similar situation recently, check your bill – you should only be paying VAT once.
  • From Ireland.com, Bord Gais customers are facing a rise in the price of gas towards the end of 2008. The gas company has said that it would seek permission from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) to impose a price increase of up to 19% from October. Given all the current price rises, I wonder will the Commission event have second thoughts about approving this request?
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10 Ways to Save Energy, well 9 really

There’s a focus at the moment on saving energy in the office and at home, and I’ve blogged about this before. Much of the push is coming from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources website power of one.

The UK Motley Fool has today provided their own 10 Ways to Save Energy. There are some new ones there, and some old ones, but they’re always worth a reminder.

And unfortunately, given the lack of competition in the gas and electricity markets for residential consumers, point number 10 is of no use to us here in Ireland.

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Price of gas to fall… finally!!!

There’s a press release going around today which is mentioned in much of the press regarding the announcement from the Commission for Energy Regulation that gas prices are to drop by 10%.

The press release is available on the CER website here.

Rather than the headline first paragraph, I’m more interested in paragraph 4 which states that “the Commission has reduced the standing charge which will be paid by the average customer from €308.58 per annum to €56.75per annum”.

How come this isn’t making the headlines? For years, it’s been killing me that I have to pay such an enormous standing charge on a very small usage of gas. As put by the CER:

“This will encourage greater energy efficiency as a larger proportion of customer bills will be unit costs, which relate directly to consumption levels. This way a customer also has greater control over the final level of the bill. Lower usage customers may if they wish avail of a tariff that has no standing charge.”

So, while the unit price of gas may go up for gas customers who avail of the tariff without the standing charge, they will really be only then paying for what they use, rather than this large standing charge which they have no control over.I for one think this is a great advancement. I wait in anticipation to see what the new rates will be in detail, and will most likely be moving to the tariff without the standing charge as soon as I can.

Now, can we please have the same for electricity (remove the standing charge there) and road usage (remove the road tax standing charge, and put more tax on petrol) so that we can more move to “pay per use” and put control of costs in the hands of the users themselves?

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