Mary’s demand-moving drama

Submitted by Rania Alqass on
Energy Local’s very own Mary Gillie has written a blog to share her own experience to shift her own domestic electricity demand.

27 February 2016

“I thought it was time that I practised what I preach and see what load I can shift in my house. Not being a ‘gadget freak’ there, I don’t have lots of widgets. I have an outdoor covered area for drying clothes, so don’t have tumble dryer and I wash my dishes by hand. However, I cook on electric. My heating is biomass boiler which uses a bit of power and I have solar thermal for water heating.
Like many people with a busy life I rush in and out of the house a lot, so making sure I have enough clean clothes and getting the hoovering done at all can be a challenge as it is!

So what have I managed? I have put the washing on in the middle of a sunny day, or at night. While I have a delay function on the washing machine, I naturally keep late hours so switching the machine on before I go to bed works quite well. My washing machine also has an eco setting (20 degrees), and I plan to look at the difference in energy consumption between different settings – I will report more next month.

I have an allotment that I tend to visit at the weekend. I often do bulk cooking of the produce ready for the week ahead, and I try to do this before the evening peak. I have just bought a slow cooker so that I can leave it to cook over night. Being lazy, I have established that for vegetables I can ‘just put it all in together’ and let it cook! I am considering using a timer to help me schedule this. I have also investigated baking in a slow oven over night, rather than heating the whole of the oven up – something else to report back on next month.”


Further confessions of a deviant demand-shifter 

18 March 2016

Mary Gillie has continued trying out demand-shifting herself….

“Okay, I am human, and when events conspired to require hot water for a bath one evening, the immersion heater went on at 7pm! I’ve also had the washing machine pressed into service during the evening peak as well. Such moments make you grateful for the fact we do have a reliable, continous power supply.

The slow cooker is great! However, first time round I put far to much water in to start off with so it took ages to heat up!  I have also tried baking in it: that works well – better than heating up the whole oven.  I read up on it here. More generally, I have found I can prepare food in advance (in the middle of a sunny day for example) to minimise the cooking time during the tea-time peak. I have also noticed on my electric hobs that when simmering or steaming, I can switch the heat off and get another 10 minutes of cooking for free.

I find it hard to avoid the ‘medium price’ time from 9 to 11 pm.  I can procrastinate enough to avoid doing the ironing and hoovering during the evening peak, but find this time of day quite useful for doing these chores: at least I am not paying the most expensive prices.”


All washed up…

26 April 2016

I have been investigating the cost of washing. I have a very efficient washing machine but I was amazed by the difference depending on the programme. It has a 20-degree ‘eco’ wash that takes 2 hours and forces air through the clothes to get rid of the dirt. It then has a standard 40-degree wash that takes 2 hours and a ‘quick’ 40-degree wash. Armed with a plug-in energy monitor I measured the energy consumption for each one.

  • The ‘eco’ wash only takes about a third of the energy of the ‘quick’ 40-degree wash, and it gets the clothes clean!
  • The difference between the two 40-degree cycles was only about 0.15kWh. So most of the energy needed is for heating water.

The times I find it difficult to use the cheapest power for washing, as this tends to be when I would like to have it drying overnight. I try to start the washing machine at 9pm so that I at least avoid the peak times.

I was interested in looking at my energy use over the day so I took the chance to monitor it every 5 minutes over a day. I don’t have much of a routine so each day is different. I took a day when I was pretty sure I could identify different loads as it would be just me in the house. The graph below shows my usage. It was a sunny day so I ran the washing machine in the middle of the day. The monitor may not have been very accurate at low measurements but I was pleased to get my base load down to about 17 watts – that’s the fridge (without the compressor working) and my bedside clock.

Power Usage Peaks
Mary’s power usage showing peaks and the appliances responsible!