Energy savings in everyday life part 1: Check your electricity price

Author: Pernille Manicus

Recommendations, good advice and admonitions about how we should save energy flies around – both large and small initiatives in everyday life can make a big difference – in individual households and on a society level. The Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy has been working with energy savings for decades, and we have laid down some of the easiest, some of the most effective and some of the more surprising tips for saving electricity.

NB! As you read the article keep in mind that the cheapest, greenest and most reliable energy is the energy we don’t use.

Note: most of the websites and apps referred to here are meant for the Danish market. If you are reading this article and you are based elsewhere, there are for sure similar alternatives available for you as well (e.g. your electricity provider may have dedicated apps). Also note that, despite electricity price variating everywhere, peak hours may differ from country to country and that users having a flat- or semi-flat rate subscription may not experience big savings.

Use electricity when it is cheapest

Electricity does not have a constant price – the price depends on supply and demand. Therefore, it is a good idea to make it a habit to check today’s electricity prices – and comply with them by using electricity when it is cheapest. There are a multitude of apps and websites where you can find out about the electricity price. Your choice depends on how much you want to “geek”.

There are several apps that provide a simple and quick overview in everyday life, for example the app “True Energy”, where today’s and tomorrow’s prices are  indicated in a simple graph. And similar apps are currently popping up on both the App Store and Google Play like wind turbine guilds did back in the 90s or like solar cells on rooftops around 2010.

Places to go

The Nordic Folkecenter’s data specialists make slightly greater demands on the amount of data, and orient themselves in the app Min Strøm (for iPhone – and in Danish), which can be connected to the website (Danish), so it is also possible to see your own electricity consumption. In addition, there is the Carnot app (Danish). Carnot is built on a structure of AI-based models that predict electricity production and electricity prices up to seven days ahead. The forecasts are based on the weather forecasts, because the price of electricity is, dependent on supply. So on windy days the electricity price is lower than on calm days. With Carnot, you can plan the laundry or the lasagna for the days in the coming week when the electricity price is low.

If you want to take the climate into account when you use electricity, it is always a good start to look outside and see if it is windy and the sun is shining. But you also have to think about the fact that the electricity market in Denmark pulls wires out to several countries in Europe and the Nordics. So even if it’s windy and the sun is shining, you can’t be 100% sure that your power comes from renewable energy sources. Take a look at Electricity Maps, where you can see what percentage of your electricity consumption comes from renewable energy, what other energy sources are in the picture at the time in question and from which country it comes from. The site is easy to navigate.

Do you want to find out how much power you consume and what time of day you use it the most? Take a look at (Danish). You must log in with NemID, and then you get access to data about your energy consumption right down to the hourly basis. Pay particular attention to the consumption at night and when you are not at home – is there anything that is consuming inappropriately?

As an alternative, you can also buy smart sockets at your local hardware shop. Originally meant for domotics, these devices can allow to switch on and off appliances and any electrical load, but often also to monitor their consumption. In this way you will know who is the responsible for that hidden load!

Away with standby power

You’ve heard it before, because it’s been said many times, but it always deserves repeating when we talk about energy savings. Remember to switch off the socket – fridge and freezer excepted, of course.

But do you turn off your Wi-Fi in the evening? And what about your microwave? Is it plugged in all week to make popcorn on Friday night? Do you remember to unplug your laptop when it is fully charged? Check your home: are there electronic devices that are on standby all day, all week, all year – just to be used occasionally?

Unplugging them may not change a lot on your bill, but if all of us do that, it will definitievely have an impact national-wise…the more we can save, the less we need to import!

Share your experiences

If you yourself have good advice on saving energy or good experiences with systems and apps that help you keep an eye on electricity prices, you are welcome to leave a comment below so that others can benefit from your knowledge and your experiences.

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