According to the consumer magazine Which?, there are only two electrical suppliers in the UK that use only renewables – Ecotricity and Good Energy. These companies invest a portion of their profits in renewable energy sources. There are others that make claims, but these have been disputed by many sources. If your electricity comes from any other supplier, then it will include coal and gas fired generators which produce CO2 and increase greenhouse gases. There is also the carbon cost of the grid, the transformers, the substations, etc.

Furthermore, when consumption increases, the national grid brings into play gas and coal fired power stations, which are direct producers of CO2 as electricity from renewable sources is used first. There is almost never a time in the UK when we are just using renewable energy. So even if you buy from Ecotricity and Good Energy, you will be also using electricity from CO2 producing sources.

This means that we still all need to cut back on our electricity consumption in order to reduce our carbon footprints.


Given current prices, we can all benefit by reducing our consumption by at least 20%.

Find out from your bills or from reading your meter how much electricity in KWh you used over November (some cold days) and December (more time at home). Divide by 2, to get a figure for a high consumption month. (Don’t go by the price of electricity, this is increasing steeply and will make it impossible to compare consumption). Multiply the monthly consumption by 0.8 (or less) to get a new target. It’s not possible to get to a lower consumption in one step, it may take several iterations to do this – be patient.

Ways to reduce electricity use – choose ideas that you can do or come up with your own

  • LED lightbulbs
  • Switch off things that you are not using – lights, routers, microwaves, washing machines, TVs, etc.
  • If you use an oven, batch cook so that it is not used for just one serving at a time
  • Only heat the exact amount of water that you need in a kettle – overfilling is a great waste of energy
  • Wash less frequently and on the lowest temperature that does the job
  • Only run a dishwasher on a full load
  • Any other ideas you have that fit your family’s lifestyle

After a month, reread the meter, take the reading from the end of December away from the new one and see the effect. It may take time to work out which ones produce the most reduction and to really make a difference to those bills (and your carbon footprint).