Kirsty McLuckie on changing your routine to reduce energy bills

We’ve all become a lot more flexible in our daily routines since modern technology has allowed us to choose where and when to shop, bank, work or be entertained. The pandemic has only accelerated this.

Image: Prostock-studio/Adobe

You could even say Dolly Parton’s lyrics in “9 to 5” – describing the gruelling nature of a working day in the 1980s – suddenly seems oddly old fashioned.

The days when the nation’s alarm clocks were in sync, followed by a power surge from kettles and showers before traffic hits rush hour, are not the norm post-Covid.

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A recent survey from Smart Energy GB, looking at the attitudes and behaviour of Scottish people, suggests they are open to the benefits of flexible living in different aspects of their lives too – including in the way they use energy.

And changing your routine could save money on ever-increasing utility bills.

The survey found that more than seven in ten Scots would like to use energy in a more flexible way. Cost benefits are the main driver for this – three quarters said they would be willing to change when they do their chores to save energy and money.

Half claimed they would be happy to change the time they wash their clothes or charge electronic devices, and nearly a quarter would be happy to change their shower time.

Bearing in mind that the cheapest electricity is on offer in the wee small hours, I can understand charging your electric vehicle after midnight and setting the timer on a dishwasher to come on long after bedtime too.

Whether or not the savings made available by timely usage would prompt many of us to shower at 2am is another question.

But then it is not all about finances. In considering our power usage, we also have to take into consideration the carbon cost, and the geopolitical concerns that the war in Ukraine has brought into sharp relief.

The survey found that respondents are keen to take a more environmentally-friendly approach to energy use, with 80 per cent expressing a preference for their energy to come from renewable sources rather than fossil fuels.

Smart “time of use” tariffs encourage a flexible use of energy, rewarding use when demand is low, or when excess energy is available. Suppliers buying the right amount of energy to meet demand means reducing waste across the board.

Half-hourly readings are already an option for smart meter owners and are expected to be adopted by an increasing number of people.

Such frequent readings will increase the use of domestically-generated renewable energy, if customers’ new energy use patterns utilising off-peak energy enables the grid to do so.

This could mean the UK will be more energy self-sufficient and less reliant on imported fossil fuels, helping protect our energy supply from price volatility in the global market.

Victoria Bacon, a director at Smart Energy GB, put it like this: “Frequentreadings from smart meters are at the heart of a more flexible energy system, providing the information needed to generate the rightamount of power at the right time, reducing costly waste in the system, helping flatten peaks in demand and benefiting everyone.”

- Kirsty McLuckie is property editor at The Scotsman