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Voltage optimisation - 10 % off your electricity bills
Mains voltage fluctuates because the power supplied over the National Grid is not stored but generated on demand.
Electrical appliances are designed to operate over a range of voltages within the European statutory range - 230 Volts + / - 10% ie 207 Volts - 253 Volts.
In the UK the norm is at the high side of this range at about 240 Volts BUT the majority of household appliances operate more efficiently at lower voltages.
By reducing the voltage to a steady 220 Volts electricity bills could be reduced by 10%. UK wide this annual saving is equivalent the output of a power station or the carbon emissions of 2.3 million cars.
A company called VPhase is marketing a voltage optimistion device for the domestic market  and have been featured oth BBC's Working Lunch Program
At 300 plus fitting costs it may not seem a very attractive option for most households but what about small business's with lots of lights / fridges / freezers ? It could be worth doing the sums.
Alternatively what about a Government initiative ? This is the same order of magnitude in energy saving as home insulation.
Energy Monitoring Devices
There has been a lot of recent advertisements urging you to turn all electrical devices off when not in use. Great money saving idea but if you are anything like me it will last about a week. You can't see what you are saving and comparing quarterly electricity bills doesn't work.
So what about an Wireless Energy Monitor in the home. You attach a transmitter to your incoming electricity supply and put the monitor wherever you want (wireless = no trailing wires). The monitor gives you up to the second information on the cost of the electricity you are using. Turn a electrical device or light on or off and you can see the cash impact immediately.  Fact, If you reduce your enery usage by one a penny an hour you will be saving 87 a year.
These devices are not expensive (about 30), are easy to use and will also work for 3 phase supplies.  
 energy monitorm
Incandescent bulbs 
The traditional incandescent light bulb has been illuminating our homes for the past 120 years but finally is being switched off for the last time. Retailers have voluntarily stopped replenishing stocks and soon the 100 watt bulb will be consigned to the history books. This is part of a Government campaign to force people into buying low-energy fluorescent bulbs and follows hot on the heals of the scrapping of the 150 watt bulb in last year. Next year it will be the turn of the 60 watt bulb.
But what about all these dimmer switches we are so fond of. Will they still work with fluorescents ?  Unfortunately the answer is both yes and no. Some do some don't. So make sure the fluorescent you buy will work with your dimmer.
              incandescent bulb
Extra Low Voltage Halogen Downlights 
Extra low voltage sounds good, but does this mean low power consumption. The answer is NO.
A mains voltage 240 volt 50 watt halogen lamp uses less power than an extra low voltage 12 volt 50 watt halogen lamp because the transformer wastes some energy as well.
The main advantage of the 12 volt lamp is a much reduced chance of electrocution.
The main disadvantage of the 12 volt lamp is the transformer, these do not last forever. Transformers are prone to overheating particularly when covered in insulation. When the transformer fails the light stops working and it will cost you 6 for a new transformer and you may need an electrician.
            low voltage halogen
Mains Votage Halogen Downlights
A friend of mine recently did a kitchen makeover and installed 21 halogen downlights.
21 light each consuming 50 watts of power meant he was burning 1.05 kilowatts an hour. Running these lights for 5 hours a day equates to an annual bill of 250. Just to light his kitchen ??
Life expectancy for halogen bulbs is about 2000 hours so his bulbs were lasting just over a year. 
They look good but can be expensive and generate a lot of heat ( a potential fire risk ). They also put holes in the ceiling which increases the speed at which a fire will spread throughout the house.
Fire rated fittings are recommended for all recessed downlighters.
          mains voltage halogen
CFL Downlighters 
Compact fluorescent lights come in all shapes and sizes. Mains voltage CFL downlights are available. Significant savings can be made by switching to CFL bulbs. An 11 watt  CFL lamp supplies as much light as a 50 watt halogen but uses only a quarter of the energy, lasts 7 x longer and and generates far less heat. However you may have to replace yor existing light fittings as these CFL bulbs are sightly longer than standard G10 halogens. CFL lights also can take a little bit of getting used to as they take a minute or two to reach full brightness. 
LED Downlights
LED technology is improving all the time and in the not too distant future an affordable G10 LED replacement  for a standard halogen will be available. At this time LED lights are are used more for accent lighting because although they are appear bright they illuminate a smaller area than a standard halogen. However with power consumptiom starting at about 1 watt, they generate virtually no heat and come in different colours. You can even get bulbs that automatically change colour. Certainly one to keep an eye on for the future and one to consider for say kitchen worktop illumination. 
Renewable Energy
Domestic Wind Turbines, Solar voltaic, Solar Water heaters, and Air and ground Heat Exchangers all generate  energy from the environment we live in but you will need expert advice to determine which is the best opion for you. These devices are expensive and although you will save money on your day to day energy costs the initial capital cost can take several years to recoup. I take a very simplistic view, if the return on a capital investment takes longer than 3 years it not worth spending the money now. Technology is improving all the time so it could be wiser to wait.

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