Today we talk about living costs, rising energy bills and the impact of this on people’s lives. Whether you’re preparing for IELTS exams or just want to learn some new English vocabulary, we fill our podcast with tips and advice that will help you enhance your
The cost of living in the UK is going crazy. I’m sure it’s the same for you. Petrol per litre has gone from £1.15 to £1.76. My food shopping was about £100 a week for 3 people and 2 cats, now it’s about £145, for nearly the same things. My gas bill has gone up 3 times, and it’s now 85% more expensive, but we’ve used less to keep the costs down. It’s happening for everything though, my son’s computer chair broke (OK he broke it!) I tried to buy the same chair on Amazon, and it was nearly 50% more, and it’s only a year old.
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Today we talk about living costs, rising energy bills and the impact of this on people’s lives. Whether you’re preparing for IELTS exams or you just want to learn some new English vocabulary, we fill our podcast with tips and advice that will help you enhance your English speaking skills and increase your vocabulary.
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Our topic today? In many parts of the world, everything is costing more and we’re suddenly having to be conscious about our energy consumption. When we use the word ‘energy’, ENERGY we sometimes mean the capacity our children to run around and always be active. Or if we’re lucky, we might say that of ourselves - we have ‘bags of energy’. But we also use this word ‘energy’ in a way that’s closer to its meaning in Physics.
Usually energy comes in the form of heat, light, motion - that’s movement. But you can also have electrical energy, chemical energy - and even gravitational energy. ‘Gravity’, GRAVITY is that idea in Physics that something has weight so ‘gravitational’ is just the adjective to go with this. If you pull a big stone up a hill, effectively you have stored energy in that stone - and it has the capacity to roll all the way back down the hill itself, using the energy that you’ve stored by pulling it up the hill. That is gravitational energy and that’s a Physics type definition of energy.
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But when energy is in the news, when we’re talking about ‘the energy crisis’, we’re talking of course about fuel, FUEL - how we power our homes, how we heat our houses. For reasons, some of them political, which we’re all well aware of, the cost of this energy has already risen and it’s set to rise some more. This is of concern for everyone in the world that uses energy, electricity - so that’s pretty much all of us. But if you live in a country that gets cold in the winter, then you are starting to worry about the cost of heating for next winter.
In the UK, even in late April or the start of May, it’s kind of warmer in the middle of the day, but still chilly and nice to have the heating on first thing in the morning and again in the evening. But of course, from an ecological point of view, we should be conserving energy. It’s still true that most of our homes are powered by fossil fuels - oil and gas, or by electricity generated from oil and gas, so until we have more green ways of making our energy, we should be conserving because of our poor planet and the need to reduce carbon emissions!
Two good reasons to think about energy costs then. Saving ourselves money - and saving the planet. So lots of advice around at the moment on how to reduce your energy bills, how to cut the high cost of gas and electricity. Figures last week from Sky News described the sorts of economies that we can all make to bring down our heating and our power bills. The phrase ‘to make an economy’ means ‘to take action to save money’.
So ‘an economy’ is a saving, whereas when we say, ‘the economy’, we’re talking about the economic situation more generally for the whole country. So what do they suggest? Well, 85% of UK homes still use gas for their heating. And the estimate is that if we were to turn down our heating from 20ºC to 18ºC, there would be a saving in our UK climate of around £217 per year. And even if you move your heating down just 1ºC, you would still save £107 a year. I’m ‘in two minds’ about that - being warm in winter is important to me. On the other hand, £217. Hmmm.
They also suggest that you could delay putting the heating on from October til November. Hmmm again - I remember some years ago, stopping the heating coming on in late September - and the children complaining at having to wait until October came for their heating. I think I’d rather be cold in the middle of the day and know that the heating is coming on later on - I can look forward to it then! That feels better to me. I guess it depends where you live - and how warm you like your house! But in climates like that of the UK, half our domestic energy use is to heat our houses and two thirds of this energy is used between November and February when it’s cold.
If you have the money, then installing something like a ‘heat pump’ - which basically takes energy from the air or from the ground and transfers it into your house - that may be an option. It works ‘rather like a fridge’, apparently. So you can have an ‘air source heat pump’, which takes energy from the air or a ‘ground source heat pump’, which takes energy from the ground.
But the cost? Well, for an air source heat pump - £8,000-£18,000. And for a ground source heat pump - £20,000-£35,000. I don’t think we’ll be having one of those then! That is too expensive for most people and it takes many years to get back in savings what you’ve spent. It comparison a plain old gas boiler for your heating costs about £3,000 to install. So it’s clear why most people are still on gas and why higher gas prices are going to be such a problem!
But what savings can normal people make - the ones who can’t afford a ground source heat pump? Well, your tumble dryer is the device that looks like a washing machine, but which dries your clothes. Instead of using your tumble dryer, if you ‘air dry’ your clothes - that means putting them outside on a washing line to dry them, then you might save around £100 a year.
I’m partly OK with this - I am hanging out my washing now whenever it’s a nice day and the clothes smell nice too. But in the British winter, you could probably hang out your clothes all day and they wouldn’t be dry. Or on many winter days in the UK, they would come in more wet for having been outside than when you took them out of the washing machine!
One piece of advice I didn’t think about though - if you have the option to stand your fridge or your fridge-freezer somewhere cold, ideally unheated, it’s got less hard work to do in the summer and you could save around £60 a year. Again, that depends on whether you’ve got space. If you have a garage, maybe it’s possible - but that would mean lots of journeys to and from the fridge when you’re cooking. So these ideas are worth hearing, but they’re not possible for everybody.
There are things you can do to reduce energy use that don’t feel to affect your ‘quality of life’ as much - like taking a shorter shower or reducing the amount of water you heat when you make hot drinks. We’ve also got blankets in our lounge, so if anyone is up late watching TV and the heating has gone off - you can still stay warm.
Another really good idea in a minute, but first, just a reminder that if you enjoy the variety of topics in our podcasts - and you know that our Listen & Learn method works for you learning English, remember to go and look at the latest podcast bundle for sale on our website at adeptenglish.com. You can get hundreds of minutes of quality English language listening for a tiny cost. It’s a bargain!
Another of the ideas that I read about that I really liked - what about all the devices ‘on standby’ and how about reducing power usage by turning them off? When we say something electronic is ‘on standby’, that’s STANDBY it means that ‘it’s ready and waiting to be used’.
We might use this phrase ‘on standby’, when we’re talking about someone who is cabin crew or a pilot of an aeroplane being ‘on standby’ - they’re ready to work if they’re needed, but they don’t yet know yet whether they will be needed or not. They’re ‘on standby’. And we talk about devices being ‘on standby’. It means that it’s not fully switched on, but it’s ready to use - the little red light is on and it’s waiting.
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So I read another article which estimated that you might save £55 a year by switching off all your devices that otherwise would be ‘on standby’. All those little red lights that are on all night - for your TV, your computer, your TV box, your amplifier, your tablet, your laptop etc. It’s an estimated £25 a year, just to leave your TV on standby. So these things are all costing you money.
Just unplug them, give them a rest! If your household is like ours, then there are quite a lot of ‘little red lights in the night’, quite a lot of devices consuming power, all day, every day, when you’re not using them. So that could be a big saving! The Energy Saving Trust is a UK organisation - and its purpose is in the name. And they estimate that up to 16% of domestic electricity use is for devices on standby. 16%! And they arrived at this figure with quite a low estimate for the number of devices on standby in the average house.
When even our toothbrushes are electrical and can be on standby, it’s estimated that in the average UK home, there are 41 devices, sitting around consuming electricity when they’re being not used. That’s crazy! Crazy that we have that many - and crazy that they’re consuming power, when we’re not using them! Why not switch them off?
And one more tip? Stay on top of charging your mobile phone or your laptop. ‘To charge’ something, CHARGE means to ‘load it up’ - and here we mean ‘with electricity’ So you ‘charge your battery’, your ‘charge your phone’. As soon as your mobile phone or your laptop is charged, unplug it - take away its electricity supply. Over-charging is still using electricity, even though there’s no benefit!
Anyway, there are some ideas and quite a lot of vocabulary for you around domestic heating and domestic electricity consumption and the energy crisis. Always useful to learn - we’re always extending your language skills!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
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