Apologies to my regular readers who might have been expecting a post this time last week from me, I had some things to attend to outside of the blogging sphere which meant that I wasn’t able to put together another rambling post about the meandering nature of my life. Truth be told, it’s a wonder that anyone finds my wittering interesting at all!
Some of you who have had the misfortune to know me well will be aware that I often spend far too much time in the left side of my brain, the side that deals with logic, sequences etc. ‘Analytical’ is a term the could be used to describe me, mainly because the first two syllables sum up how I come across at times – a bit anal.
Fear not, I am not going to subject you to a post about back-passages, although now I come to think of it, I’m sure I could come up with some puerile humour on the subject…
This week’s post is actually something far more exciting, I am going to talk to you about the wonderful new addition to my living space – a smart meter.
What do you mean that backsides are more interesting?! What I shall speak of is of great importance when considering my own carbon footprint, as well as my electricity bill.
Although we’ve had it fairly easy compared to my fellow blogging pals in the US, the winter months in the UK aren’t exactly the warmest time of the year. It’s cold and it gets dark early, which in turn causes temperatures to drop even further.
I moved into my current property in the summer of 2014, it wasn’t until the temperatures started dropping in late October/early November that I realised I had a big problem. The front door to my property is on ground level, while my living space is on the upper level with no door to separate the two areas. This has left me with a significant cold spot in the property and an open invitation for condensation to take up residence in my hallway/stairwell.
For those who are unfamiliar with this most annoying of phenomenons, listen closely to Heather B Costa’s science tutorial:
Condensation occurs when the physical state of matter changes from a gas phase to a liquid phase. Condensation typically occurs when a vapour is cooled or condensed to its saturation limit. In terms of condensation in properties, condensation is most often caused by warm air meeting cold surfaces, the water created by the change of vapour into liquid (i.e. water) causes the droplets to settle on these cold surfaces (i.e. your walls, ceilings, windows etc.)
*End of science lesson*
I’m pretty sure that even the least scientifically minded of us knows that heat rises. When air vapour gets heated and then hits a cold surface (such as the coldest area of my property) its molecular properties are changed into water droplets that just so happen to love clinging to my walls and ceilings. Not only does this look unsightly, it can also caused real damage to the property and the spores created by mould can also by harmful to a person’s health.
Like any good tenant, my first port of call was to complain to my landlord that I had an issue. To give him due credit, he sent a roofer to my property within a couple of days. I had been convinced that the issue was a leak in the sloped roof, the specialist was convinced that the water running down my walls had been caused by condensation. I shall save us all a lot of time and trouble and cut to the point – the roofer was right, it was condensation.
My landlord agreed to pay for extra insulation in the roof and once the work had been carried out, I assumed that my condensation woes would be nothing more than a bad memory.
It turns out that I was wrong.
Cue another visit from the roof specialist who advised me that I needed to keep the stairwell at an equal temperature to the rest of my living space. This is easier said than done when you have no central heating to speak of. That only left me with one option: buying electric heaters instead.
This seemed like an easy fix to my condensation issues and also had the added bonus of keeping me warm and comfortable throughout the winter. The freezing temps be damned, I had overcome my condensation woes and fended off the cold. Victory was mine!
I had racked up a frightening amount of usage and yet I couldn’t work out why. Just what was it that ate up electricity like a cop in a donut shop?
Thankfully for my bank balance, my utility company were offering to install a smart meter in my property which would enable me to actively gauge how much energy I was using, when I was using it, and how much it was costing me. I had the meter and monitor fitted last week and since then I have been like Donatella Versace with a cosmetic surgery brochure.
Imagine the fun I had walking around my property switching appliances on and off and watching the monitor spike wildly. I was alarmed to discover that the light bulbs in my property cost more to run than my TV and games console combined. Appliances such as the microwave and kettle also use an alarming amount of electricity compared to my cable TV box and wireless hub.
I counted the amount of bulbs I would need to replace all of those in my property and decided that the initial outlay was worth it when compared to the amount it would cost me to keep the old energy-guzzling ones my landlord had provided me with. I have literally spent the last week skipping around (walking, actually) my property with my energy monitor in one hand and a pen and paper in the other, determined to save myself every last penny.
Where I had racked up nearly £100 worth of charges each month for the last three months (that’s electricity alone), I have now spent a measly £6 this past week in electricity usage and this will save me the best part of £65 each month compared with those previous. Bizarrely, trying to scrimp and save on every watt of electricity is actually rather fun, believe it or not. I think this may be the start of a new obsession for me – I can see spreadsheets and graphs in my future…
And yes, it was those damn electric heaters that cost me so much money. Next winter, I’m becoming an Eskimo.