Energy Saving Tech — Bulb Community

Energy Saving Tech

With the nice little referral credit I've earned from Bulb, I've invested some of the 'saved' cash into a Nest Thermostat, and some LED bulbs (to replace halogens) - both to try and reduce my energy use.

Has anyone else invested in tech to automate their homes and hopefully reduce their energy use? What are your recommendations?

Comments

  • edited November 2017
    I started with the LED's. It was the easiest thing to change for the quickest benefit.

    One of the outside lights has a dusk till dawn sensor in it so it only comes on when it is dark (as a sort of security light).

    We are having a new boiler in a few days, and getting our radiators changed to Thermostatic Radiator Valves, and a wireless programmable thermostat.

    Not related so much to homes, but for fossil fuel cars I found an app called Dash which can be used as a driving coach among other things. https://dash.by/ - I'm saving the money I save on fuel for my next car which will hopefully be an electric car.


  • We are having a new boiler in a few days, and getting our radiators changed to Thermostatic Radiator Valves, and a wireless programmable thermostat.
    .

    I replaced my room thermostat with a wireless one 18 months back and find it good for reducing costs. Because it is wireless I can keep the rad thermo valves set lower in all the rooms and just move the wireless thermostat to the room I am sitting in which thwn brings the temp up in that room.
    One thing to look out for is if the wireless thermostat is in the kitchen when wife is cooking the raised temp from the ovens will usually stop the thermostat kicking in.

  • edited November 2017
    I went all LED over 5 years ago now, having used primarily CFLs in properties before that.

    When my boiler went bang two years ago, I went with a nice new efficient gas one (sadly all leccy boilers are still just too expensive to run or I'd have done that - maybe next time) and I also got the 3rd gen Nest to go along with it as soon as they were released in the UK.

    As my boiler (Worcester Bosch 34CDi classic IIRC) doesn't support OpenTherm (which is what the Nest supports), I kinda have an idea in my head currently to create an OpenTherm to EMS bus bridge so my Nest can be slightly more clever about how it heats the house (only turn the boiler on a little when not much heat is needed for example).
    I should have the EMS bus part sorted in a few weeks and then we'll see about emulating an OpenTherm boiler!
    (It does look like someone's already done it)


    Most things that are sold as eco-tech are really just toys though and the real improvements come from extra insulation, removal of draughts, and a generally cooler house.
  • @Frank @matthew744 @scudo @mowcius

    It would be great to know which of these made a noticeable difference to your usage (including the eco-tech toys).

    As homes get smarter, our advice will need to cover these technologies as part of energy saving advice so any reviews from our trusted members would be really helpful.
  • @Rob at Bulb I'd be more than happy to feed this back after a couple of months usage so I can compare.
  • edited November 2017
    @Rob at Bulb, the Nest for me is really a bit of an energy saving unknown as I got it a few months after I moved into my new house.

    I think that if you're going from a set-temp or a very basic timed thermostat then it could reduce your usage, but if you already have a half decent thermostat, I doubt it would make much of a difference.
    For me at least it's more for comfort and flexibility that it really shines. (It's also a very fancy looking wall object)

    Many a day have I been out in the rain and the cold and wanted to go back to a warm house so have stuck the heating on from my phone to ensure it's toasty when I get home.
    On a similar note, I've also gone on holiday forgetting to turn off the heating (it can do it automatically based on phone location but it's not perfect so I have that feature off) and have been able to switch it off when hundreds of miles away.
  • @Frank That would really helpful, it would be great to see energy tech reviews on the community for others to consider and comment on.

    @mowcius That's a couple of really good uses, I like the idea of being able to get the house nice and warm while on the journey home, I think my girlfriend would abuse this feature if I had this though.
  • Almost forgot, the Loop energy saver is really good but it'll basically become redundant when SMETS2 (I think that's what they are called) smart meters are rolled out. The comparison tool is really good, but as a Bulb customer I doubt I'll ever need that again!
  • @matthew744 It's pretty clever in regards to the switching service offered and the conversion of a dumb meter to basically be a smart meter. Our tariffs are pretty clever and make the device a little redundant though!

    We still recommend these for people looking to keep a closer eye on their usage, while we get to the SMETS2 phase of smart meters.


  • We still recommend these for people looking to keep a closer eye on their usage, while we get to the SMETS2 phase of smart meters.

    Until smart meter arrives anyone wishing to log their usage on a monthly basis can have a copy of my spreadsheet, all it requires is putting in your monthly readings and it will work out the cost of usage for you. Useful for comparing against your statements.
    Uses office excel or open office.

    Message me with email address if required.




  • Yes LED bulbs will save on your electricity, but not on your wallet if like me you start by buying on-line from what proved to be suppliers of poor quality bulbs which just didn't last. Am now buying known brands and (touch wood) no problems since.
  • edited December 2017
    On LEDs, on a recent trip to IKEA I discovered the TRÅDFRI LED panels.

    A few of them have now replaced real basement windows in a my house renovation plans... =)
    Embedded in a partition wall with a real wood surround, they should look just like a frosted window!
  • Oh, would you be able to email me the spreadsheet please? HeatherASKennedy@sky.com

    Thanks

    Heather x
    scudo said:



    We still recommend these for people looking to keep a closer eye on their usage, while we get to the SMETS2 phase of smart meters.

    Until smart meter arrives anyone wishing to log their usage on a monthly basis can have a copy of my spreadsheet, all it requires is putting in your monthly readings and it will work out the cost of usage for you. Useful for comparing against your statements.
    Uses office excel or open office.

    Message me with email address if required.




  • Sent as requested.
  • Thank you looks complicated but I will figure it out lol
    scudo said:

    Sent as requested.

  • Its probably my instructions that are complicated as all you have to do is enter your monthly meter readings and all else is automatically calculated for you, including the bar charts.
  • Good Evening All,

    I'd definitely recommend buying quality LED's rather then be tempted by bargain offers.

    One of the things that is frequently overlooked on the energy saving front is the elimination of drafts and insulation, insulation, insulation. Much greater savings to be made than fitting LED's even if not as 'sexy'............

    I'm not really sold on the likes of NEST thermostats myself or at least the cost benefits over a conventional one.

    A week back the filling valve on our upstairs toilet suddenly decided to start spewing water out of the top of the mechanism causing water to spray on the floor and dribble out from behind the panelling. Whilst investigating I found a draft of decidedly cool air coming in around the flexi outlet pipe from the toilet. This has now been sealed.

    We've been living in this old property for 17 years but are still finding drafts...............

    Regards

    Richard
  • I bought a cheap (£9) thermal thermometer on ebay, mine is accurate to within 1 degree. Its very useful for finding cold spots and draughts around the house.

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Digital-Infrared-Handheld-Temperature-Gun-Thermometer-Non-Contact-IR-Laser-Point/292149459584?epid=1756017825&hash=item440576fa80:g:ZbcAAOxyVaBS6t1X
  • edited January 1
    @scudo, do you find there's much you can actually figure out with a single point non-contact thermometer like that?

    I've been debating buying a thermal camera for a while now for the same reason, I suspect if nothing else being able to see a whole room/wall in one go would be a faster way to go about things.
    linesrg said:

    One of the things that is frequently overlooked on the energy saving front is the elimination of drafts and insulation, insulation, insulation. Much greater savings to be made than fitting LED's even if not as 'sexy'............

    Agreed. Draughts mostly, even in rental properties they are often something you can quickly and easily fix for basically no cost.
    The number of people I know who don't seem to understand how much energy they're wasting by having the heating up high in the day and then opening a bedroom window at night amazes me though.
    Even closing blinds and curtains has a larger effect that people tend to realise.
    There's a noticeable improvement from me just closing the blind on my velux window! The blind's not thick or insulated in any way, but creating another air gap does help.
    linesrg said:

    I'm not really sold on the likes of NEST thermostats myself or at least the cost benefits over a conventional one.

    Also agreed. Buying a Nest isn't likely to save you money over a properly set up conventional timed thermostat.
    linesrg said:

    We've been living in this old property for 17 years but are still finding drafts...............

    I'd say that's one of the many joys of old properties but even a lot of newer properties aren't much better! It's only when you find developers who are actually leak testing buildings where you find new properties that are well sealed and free of (unintentional) draughts.

  • mowcius
    January 1, 2018 4:29PM Flag
    @scudo, do you find there's much you can actually figure out with a single point non-contact thermometer like that?

    I've been debating buying a thermal camera for a while now for the same reason, I suspect if nothing else being able to see a whole room/wall in one go would be a faster way to go about things.


    I would say at £9 for the single point is worth trying as the thermal camera is considerably more expensive. I found the single point useful, checking the internal window temp and then the external temp gives a good indicator of leakage. I found a few cold spots (draughts) around / under doors / skirtings. Also useful for balancing radiators. An external wall can be slowly scanned to highlight `warm` spots as the temp recorded will continually change as you move along the wall.
  • edited January 1
    I think I'll pick one up as I can see it being useful to measure insulated/uninsulated walls as I work my way around renovating this house. It would be nice to be able to put a number on things rather than the "it feels warmer" which is the best I can do now.
    Radiator temp is also a good shout.

    As you say, a thermal camera is considerably more expensive - I keep trying to come up with excuses as to why I need one though to justify the purchase though :grin:
  • Of course you will have to make some allowances for normal thermal convection eg in the room I am in just now the floor is 18.9C the wall at mid height is 21.3C and the ceiling at 20.7C, one part of the skirting is at 15.9C so will look to seal that when I get around to carpeting it. My thinking being that if you measure external walls there could be a natural difference from floor height to ceiling height, I havent tested this so its just my opinion.
  • I often forget that the 16.5C my house tends to sit at is not the temperature most people have their thermostats set to! :mrgreen:

    I've just ordered one of those thermometers anyway. It'll be mostly comparing partly done rooms, so one section of wall to another, and external walls in completed rooms vs walls rooms I haven't started on yet.
  • I've just bought some Radflek radiator reflectors - will report back on whether they are any good. I've put them on three of my radiators which are on external walls.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Radflek/b/ref=bl_dp_s_web_1649708031?ie=UTF8&node=1649708031&field-lbr_brands_browse-bin=Radflek

    Take some of the negative reviews with a pinch of salt, a lot of people seem to think they will make their house instantly warmer, which is pretty obviously not how they work.

  • @matthew744, how do you plan on deciding whether or not they're any good?

    I would have thought that other factors (routine, environmental conditions) would make quantifying any difference in gas usage for heating pretty difficult.
  • @mowcius Just going to see if there is any noticeable difference in bills. I have a Loop energy monitor which tells me gas usage and the outside temperature, so I can at least try to compare similar days.
  • It will be interesting to read your end result on this but as mowcius states "too many variables". Even if measuring against similar days you would have to take in to account the wind factor as that can pull the heat away from a building and may increase the heat loss through the walls of the house.
    I am not knocking what you are trying to do, just that I have monitored my utility bills for the last 3 years and I gave up trying to account for all the variables.
  • edited January 2
    I'm in no doubt that they'll make a bit of a difference (they have been tested by independent organisations after all) but I do wonder whether 15 or 20mm of foil backed insulation behind the radiator wouldn't do a better job.
  • Good Morning Guys,

    I have an IR thermometer already ( a Precision Gold N28BJ) but also hired a more sophisticated one from a local hire company. I think these devices are OK up to a point but I still intend hiring a 'proper' thermal imaging device as I feel this would give a much better picture of where the heat is going.

    Neither of these devices picked up the drafts I have found recently just by using the back of my hand/ fingers for instance.

    Found another draft the other day. We noted water on the floor of the Shower Room upstairs. Investigation showed it to be coming from behind the toilet bowl (Hidden cistern). Having removed the wooden cover it was obvious that the filling valve was spitting water through a handle hole in the cistern. This valve was originally fitted when the water pressure was low in the property i.e. 1.3bar but this was boosted a year ago to 3bar and why it has taken this long for this problem to manifest itself is anybodies guess.

    Whilst investigating this it became apparent that the where the flexi discharge pipe from the toilet bowl passed through the plasterboard (an then on through 75cms of wall in to the Utility Room attic space) there was a gap through which cold air was passing. This wasn't finding its way into the Shower Room directly but will have been cooling he wooden panelling around the toilet and acting as a heat sink.

    Regards

    Richard
  • My IR thermometer has arrived and it's definitely interesting measuring radiators (which will help with balancing) but it's raining outside so I can't really go measure external heat loss on the walls I've put insulation on.
    It's also quite good as an instant measure of the temperature of different parts of a room. One end of a sofa being warmer than the other for example. Traditional digital thermometers (of which I have many) are a bit too slow to use for this purpose.

    For £10 shipped (amazon) I'd say it's definitely something worth having, but make sure you're aware of its limitations.

    For finding draughts that actually make it into the room and visualising air movement, I've found a smoke machine and a large beam laser/really bright torch works very well on a windy day. Just remember to remove the smoke alarms from the room first!
  • @mowcius Those Ikea lamps look pretty good! How well do they light a room?

    @scudo Good spreadsheet, would be nice to have a look myself, see your take on billing!

    Keep us posted of what seems to make a difference and what doesn't make as much a difference as it would be very useful if we could send out advice based upon all your findings :)
  • @mowcius Those Ikea lamps look pretty good! How well do they light a room?

    I've not got any myself yet but the lumen output of the long/wide one is meant to be 2200 lumens which is about 1.5x what a 100W incandescent bulb gives out. The biggest square one is 2800 lumens.

    I suspect that two or three as fake windows would easily illuminate the room similarly to at least a dull summers day.
    With the timing functionality, they should work nicely to wake me up in the winter.

    Most single LED bulbs clock in at less than 1000 lumens, and people often only have one per room, plus maybe a couple of lamps.
  • linesrg said:

    OK up to a point but I still intend hiring a 'proper' thermal imaging device as I feel this would give a much better picture of where the heat is going.

    I really want a FLIR One for my phone, but I don't think I can justify the £250 cost. Still, a lot cheaper than a standalone thermal imaging device.
  • @BenWoodford one way you could justify the cost is loaning it friends and family, on the basis that they give you a sweetener if you save them some money on their bills? I've considered this but just don't have the time to do it at the moment.
  • @matthew744, I've on numerous occasions wondered how you might advertise this service to people. Providing people with thermal images of their property seems like something that there should be a market for. Probably with a more expensive unit though...
    I guess you do a different job when it's warm weather!
  • I do wonder if you bought one for non commercial use and then find cold spots, then you do whatever to improve those cold spots, how long would it take to recover all your costs.
    I question this because since I got more loft insulation and cavity wall insulation I cant say I have noticed a difference in my heating Bills.
    Difficult to measure I know with all the variables. Having said that I do notice the difference in my gas Bill since switching suppliers and also Electric since moving to LEDs.

    https://ired.co.uk/services/building-survey/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI08uUxbGI2QIV7Z3tCh2qlQ8cEAAYASAAEgL3HPD_BwE

    http://www.evolvehes.co.uk/thermal-imaging-heat-loss/
  • edited February 2
    @scudo, I suspect as you've added more loft insulation, you're getting into the point of diminishing returns. Even with cavity wall insulation if you're in a relatively sheltered area and the cavity's not super draughty, then it is a somewhat insulating cavity...

    I think for residential, you could make money by charging other people money to use your thermal camera, but it would then take them a long time to recoup the cost of even paying you for the use of the equipment.

    The biggest gains can be discovered by (damp) hand or with a bit of common sense.
  • @BenWoodford one way you could justify the cost is loaning it friends and family, on the basis that they give you a sweetener if you save them some money on their bills? I've considered this but just don't have the time to do it at the moment.

    This has the issue of requiring friends.
  • This has the issue of requiring friends.

    :frown:

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