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Date: 22 March 2014

Today's Topic: The sour taste of energy bills

Triggers: My latest gas bill

My Grump: The recent 8% price hike in energy prices, and all the previous ones that have pushed our collective proportion of energy/income towards 25/75.

Until recently, this was probably true of us too. However, there have been some developments that may benefit all of us.

I live in the country, overlooking Blagdon lake in the Chew Valley. Being on the side of a hill means that, for the most part, apart from a self confessed snooper that uses binoculars to look at the pictures on my wall, we are free from spying and prying eyes. I have always hated net curtains, and refuse the have them. But of course we have curtains.

Up until now, there has been very little point in closing them, night or day, even on the massive lounge window, which is almost twelve feet across. And so they just framed the window, never used, and were mainly for effect.

Of course, over the years, our energy bills have gone up and up, like everybody else's, and as we had cavity wall insulation, styrofoam boards on the inside of the exterior walls, masses of insulation in the loft and under the floors, we felt there was little else we could do, and so just put up with the rises.

It's as well to point out that twenty years ago when I had the double glazing done, I stipulated the Pilkington K coating, which was an optional extra back then, and was designed to send heat back inside the room, rather than let it radiate out into space. I think it is mandatory now on all new installations.

However, last year the 8% was a step too far, and so we started to wonder what we could do to offset the rises, bearing in mind that due to the recession, neither my wife, nor I, had had any income increases for nearly 5 years.

Quite the opposite, just like the rest of you, our income was shrinking in real terms because inflation marches on, so not only are you not keeping up with that, but higher than inflation price rises, like energy and fuel, means a real reduction in spending power.
Wasting Gas
So I said to the wife, we spent many hundreds of pounds for someone to make these blooming curtains, perhaps we should use them as they were intended. They even had this heavy thermal lining.

I thought they would be faded on the exposed parts through lack of use, but no, they were fine. So anyway, we decided we would start pulling the curtains every evening and shutting out the night darkness.

What do you think the net result of that was?

We've recently had the meter read, and our gas usage has gone down so much that the gas board have just reduced our monthly direct debit by 20 a month. That's a saving of 240 a year on the gas bill. I can't believe that closing the curtains made that much difference. But it did.

Who'd have thought, eh?

Course, 20 years ago, closing the curtains wouldn't have saved any where near that much because the gas was only 10% of what it is now. But now, energy prices being what they are, something so simple makes a huge difference. The best thing about this is that the recent rises have cost us nothing. If you can add a thermal lining to your curtains, it will be money well spent, believe me.

Please share your thoughts below, thank you.



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