Back in June the Government published its most detailed research yet on electricity use in the home: Powering the Nation 2.
It’s returned to our minds with recent coverage of EU rules on vacuum cleaners.
We understand some people are concerned, but power consumption and performance are 2 very different (eco) kettles of fish, a case well made by this rebuttal from the EU.
It will change the market, but many of Which’s Best Buys already meet new rules, “proving that clever engineering and a well-designed floorhead are equally, if not more important, than a powerful motor”.
A third dimension is creeping into the energy conscious consumer’s priorities alongside power use and performance: time. New time of use tariffs will emerge over the coming decade to try and manage down use during peak demand hours (4pm – 8pm) to avoid the higher financial and environmental costs of flexible supply. Alongside the risk that new tariffs will be no clearer than Economy 7, which leaves about 40% of users out of pocket, there is the risk that consumers will simply pay higher bills as the price for flexibility.
So, here’s the good news from that Powering the Nation report:
“More efficient appliances would make a bigger difference to the peak load than ‘load-switching’ per se”
This is why we need regulations on energy efficiency. Regulations address a lack of information in the market, and in this case they address a (highly understandable) lack of knowledge amongst consumers of the relationship between power use and performance. Of course, it takes time for those efficiencies to be felt in every home, with the potential need for help for fuel poor households, so in the meantime here at Hockerton Housing Project we are timing our flexible use such as our immersion heaters, white goods and the EV to match peak solar generation or off-peak supply hours, and are planning to investigate how to better match use to generation.
And finally, one household has got a cordless vacuum cleaner, one example of how batteries could transform the way and times we use energy. But it’s so useful that, whilst its energy use can be timed to cut financial and environmental costs per kWh, the total energy use could be much higher because it’s so handy. It’s never simple is it?!