What source?

Where does your electricity come from? I don’t mean, what’s the name of the company that supplies it, I mean, how is it generated – coal, oil, gas, wind, solar, tidal…? And does your supplier tell you?

A few years back, we switched suppliers – we had originally signed up for a ‘green tariff’ from one of the big six suppliers in the UK, but decided to switch in order to support one of the smaller companies whose focus is on green electricity and who are investing in renewables. Interestingly, this change has helped us financially. Because our supplier, Ecotricity, produces most of its energy from renewable sources, we are buffered from the vagueries of oil prices, and our bills are not rising, whilst customers of the big electricity generators are seeing significant increases.

In addition, our supplier is proud of their achievements, whilst acknowledging that they are not perfect. They are investing in renewables directly and the impact on their supplies, in comparison to the UK overall, can be seen in this table:

Fuel mix

Fuel mix

Perhaps my favourite part of their website is the page that tells me how the UK is doing in terms of carbon dioxide emissions and fuel mix right now:

Current UK energy generation and carbon emissions

Current UK energy generation and carbon emissions (click on the picture to go to the live web page)

The traffic lights on the left tell you whether it’s a good time to use electricity in terms of carbon emissions and the table on the right shows the current contributions of the different fuel sources. I’m not sure whether there are similar tools available for other countries (anyone know?). Our situation is slightly more complex than only using big appliances when the traffic lights go green because on sunny days our solar panels generate lots of electricity and it is best to use this directly when possible, but when it’s dull or dark, this tool is going to be really useful.

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