Month: April 2021

King’s Energy: Reading your energy bill

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

We’re reaching the end of another academic year. It’s that time when we have to choose who to live with for the next year. We also have to decide which energy company we want to trust both with our money and with supplying fair and clean energy to our new homes. Energy bills can be confusing with all those numbers but don’t worry, it’s not as daunting as it sounds – here is King’s Energy to answer the questions on your mind!

How do I read my energy bill?

Your energy bill should include several key pieces of information, namely: consumption, time period, personal projection, tariff information, payment methods, when your contract ends, your meter reference number and a QR code. It will also specify if the bill is actual or estimated, which might be the most important part! Some of these are fairly self-explanatory but the ones which could help you save money are:

Actual or Estimated

In order to work out your bills, your supplier needs to know how much energy you use. Your supplier will estimate your energy bill based on past usage if you don’t send them your readings. You should therefore make sure you check your meter and let your supplier know, as your usage may be less than expected.

Meter Reference Number

While you check your meter, cross-reference the number on your bill with the one on your meter because you might actually be paying for somebody else’s electricity.

Personal Projection

Not only does this allow you to see how much energy you are expected to use and therefore allow you to assess how to reduce your energy consumption, but it can also be used to compare other energy deals with your existing plan. You may be able to switch suppliers to get a better deal.

How do I read my meter?

If you have a smart meter, your readings will be sent automatically to your supplier. If you don’t, then try to read your meter every time you get a bill. First, you need to establish if you have a single rate digital meter, two-rate digital meter or dial meter, here’s what they look like:

Single rate digital meter

Two-rate digital meter

Dial meter

*If the pointer is between two numbers, always read the lower number.

Can I change my supplier?

In most cases, this can be done before the end of your contract. Ultimately which supplier you go with depends on your usage and needs. Citizens Advice offer a great comparison tool to see which provider will best support your needs and check out Citizen’s UK’s Fair Energy Campaign if you know you want to switch to a fairer and more environmentally-friendly supplier.

Over the coming weeks, we will break down the best suppliers for you in terms of cost and environmental impact. If you have any further questions or want to get involved, get in touch!


Image source: How to read your gas or electricity meter, Citizens Advice.

King’s Energy: We tried to reduce our carbon footprint using Giki Zero

This guest blog comes from Rebecca Lindsay, BA Philosophy and Spanish student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

Giki Zero is a relatively new website that allows you to keep track of your carbon consumption and take personalised steps to reduce it. Over the last couple of weeks, the Energy Team have been trying out the various features to really get a feel for its potential. So, does Giki Zero really work?

Upon the first appearance, Giki Zero presents a sleek and intuitive interface. Its bright colours and shapes are appealing, but its practicality even more so. Just sign up (for free!) and answer some brief questions about your lifestyle – diet, commuting, housing, etc. – and you’re away! Immediately you’re presented with a score that reflects your individual impact on the planet:

Higher than 500 is considered “good progress”, whereas anything above 1000 is “true planet saver” status. By adding more data, and committing to more of Giki Zero’s suggested steps, you can increase your score (and flex on your friends). If you live with other people, you can even invite them and work as a team!

You’d be surprised how easy it is to reduce your carbon footprint. There is a range of difficulties to choose from when selecting steps, ranging from “easy peasy” to “hardcore”. Many of them you may already do, such as walking to work or turning the lights off when you leave a room – add these to increase your score!

As you add more information, Giki Zero will suggest more steps suitable to your lifestyle. Since you’re reading this blog right now, why not get involved with King’s Sustainability to tick ‘Join A Local Sustainability Team’ off your list?

Giki also has a mobile app called Giki Badges, which lets you scan your shopping to see its carbon and health impact, so you can take Giki on the go!

Overall, Giki Zero is a very easy and accessible way to monitor your carbon footprint. But don’t just take it from me, here are some testimonies from the rest of the team:

“I found the Giki Zero app to be really useful, with ideas that I hadn’t realised would affect my carbon footprint – like using soap rather than shower gel – but also things that I do as normal that are a ‘good thing’ with regards to my footprint! It’s challenging and fun!”Julie

“What struck me the most about Giki-Zero was just how simple and personalised everything is. My initial Giki score didn’t sound too high but when it was put into context, my carbon footprint was significantly higher than the UK average. We often read a lot about numbers and averages but seeing this in black and white was truly shocking. To help me come to terms with my shock, Giki suggested some relatively easy fixes that I would not have otherwise thought of, such as switching to soap and refusing unnecessary gifts (long overdue!). Beyond this bit of fun, you are also able to further personalise your account with actual figures and it provides competitive challenges and landmarks. All of this makes it fun to save the planet, and perhaps this is how we can actually engage more people to do so.” Mason

“The app has this aesthetically pleasing interface that reminds you of a video game and immediately draws you in. What I appreciated the most about it is that you are not asked to change your lifestyle in a day but you have access to a wide range of suggested steps from “easy peasy” to “hardcore” that you can take to decrease your footprint. You even have the option to team up with members of your household or your friends. It’s simple, fun and I feel it helps me make better choices one step at a time!” Angeliki

Be sure to give Giki Zero a try and let us know your thoughts at!

Explore the London Student Sustainability Conference posters

King’s Sustainability Team had the fantastic opportunity to co-host the London Student Sustainability Conference (LSSC) with City, University of London on Wednesday, 24th February 2021. Over 30 students presented their sustainable research and projects through presentations, posters and performances.

The posters from LSSC 2021 can be viewed here. Look out for the poster competition prize winners, including King’s students Liza Konash (BSc Nutrition) and Mia Lewis (BA International Relations) for ‘Best Overall Poster’ for the vegetable bag scheme Fetch Ur Veg.

Recordings of the events can now be found on our Kaltura.

If you’d like to stay in touch, sign up for our monthly newsletter and follow us on InstagramFacebook or Twitter.


King’s Energy: Lighting – What are my options and why does it matter?

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

To me, lighting always seemed like a pretty alien concept. You move into a house already fitted with a certain kind of lightbulb. When they run out you survive the darkness for a few days until your landlord replaces the lightbulb or one of your more science-minded housemates gets irritated enough to figure out how to switch it. Added to the fact that there are so many options on the market, the technical names and language can make choosing the right lightbulb overwhelming.

Lighting is actually far simpler than we’re led to believe. You want to figure out three things: the size of your lightbulb fixture, your desired luminosity and the type of lightbulb technology you’d like. We focus here on the latter.

What are the options?

There are four main options on the market: incandescent, halogen, CFL and LED lightbulbs, but what are they and how are they different?

Incandescent: These are the classic – your OG lightbulbs if you like. They contain a small filament that is heated until it glows. Chances are when you think of a lightbulb, this is the one that you think of. The problem is, incandescent bulbs emit 90% of their energy as heat and if you retain a brightness of 800 lumens your energy cost is £4.38 per bulb, per year.

Halogen – These are pretty similar to incandescent lightbulbs except they also have a small capsule containing halogen gas. This capsule helps prolong the life of the lamp and keeps it clear as the reaction “recycles” the halide gas within the capsule rather than depositing it inside the lamp. However, they are significantly more expensive to run, and the European Union banned the import and production of Halogen bulbs in 2018, so there goes that option!

CFL – CFLs, or Compact Fluorescent Lamps, are those fancy twisted bulbs. This “twist” is actually a glass tube filled with mercury vapour and gas with an electrode at either end. When an electric current passes through the tube, it ignites the mercury vapour and creates UV light. This is invisible to the naked eye so there is a phosphor coating on the tube which, when it comes into contact with the ignited gas, fluoresces…get it? Not only do they look cool, but CFLs are up to 70% more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs and they last much longer.

LEDs – The new kid on the block. LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes) work by sending an electrical current through a microchip which illuminates the LED…modern stuff! LEDs really are modern, and the future of lighting. The annual running cost of an LED bulb at 800 lumens is £0.92…yes you read that right. They also use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs and can last up to 25 years.

So what is King’s doing?

Here at King’s, we recognise the potential of LEDs and are working to switch our existing bulbs over. The Franklin Wilkins Building, Macadam and New Hunts House are fully LED, while there are currently two projects for Rayne Building common areas, some labs and Britannia House to convert to LED. We have also commissioned a survey of all the campuses to find out our current lighting status and where we need to upgrade to LED.

For more information on recognising your lightbulbs and the benefits of switching to LED, tune in this Tuesday 13th April for our #TakeoverTuesday on King’s Sustainability Instagram. And as always, feel free to get in touch if you’d like to get involved with Energy at King’s.

12 ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and take action on the climate crisis

This guest blog comes from Josh Hill, a zero-waste brand owner with Soseas and scientist. 

Are you suffering from eco-anxiety? Thinking about global warming and increased pollution but overwhelmed and feeling powerless to do anything about it?

In this post, we’ll be giving you 12 ways you can implement today to reduce your carbon footprint. 

While tackling the climate crisis requires systemic change, taking action, however small, on an individual basis can help us remain hopeful and can inspire action from those around us. We remain mindful that not all have the resources to make the changes outlined below. Simply sparking a conversation with loved ones can have an impact, so do what you are able to do 🙂


Food and the industries surrounding it are hugely wasteful. With 820 million people across the world not having enough food to live an active and healthy life, we have an ethical obligation to eat sustainably for the planet and its inhabitants.

#1 Eat more greens

One of the most polluting industries is animal agriculture. This is for multiple reasons, including:

  • The land being used for animal agriculture often results from the clearing of carbon trapping biomes, such as forests;
  • The animals themselves emit greenhouse gases whilst alive;
  • The subsequent transportation of animals and meat.

The solution is simple and effective – eat less meat! Try meat-free Monday to start and take it from there.

#2 Eat local and seasonal

Having all foods available year-round has its drawbacks. In order to keep supermarket shelves stocked with sun-loving fruits and veggies year-round, they have to be imported from far-flung corners of the earth.

To avoid the air miles associated with this practice, eat locally and seasonally. The best way to introduce yourself to this way of eating is to visit your local farmers market or sign up for a local veg box scheme.

#3 Reduce your food waste

It is estimated as much as ⅓ of all food ends up being thrown away, but it doesn’t have to be this way! By reducing your food waste not only will you reduce your impact but you’ll save money too.

Here are some tips for reducing food waste:

  1. Freeze any leftovers you have
  2. Only shop for what you need and write a list to avoid deviating from that
  3. Store food correctly (not always refrigeration) to make sure it lasts as long as possible
  4. Try pickling and preserving
  5. Get creative with what’s left in your fridge


The textile and clothing industry is another hugely polluting industry, particularly when it comes to fast fashion. Not only this, but fast fashion is associated with unethical working conditions.

#4 Ditch fast fashion

Fast fashion is a hugely polluting industry. Producing mass amounts of clothes is hugely resource-intensive and the decomposition of the large proportion of un-bought and un-used clothes going to landfill results in a huge amount of greenhouse gases as they decompose.

A great alternative is to aim for a capsule wardrobe. This simple, minimalist approach to clothes makes sure you’re always in style whilst maintaining a low number of classic items – buy fewer clothes but make them last! 

#5 Shop preloved

An easy addition to ditching fast fashion to supercharge your efforts is to shop vintage and preloved clothing. Not only will you help save clothing from going to landfill but it’s often a cheaper alternative to buying brand-new.


It can be hard to tell just how polluting and resource-intensive your house is but here are some small things you can do!

#6 Unplug electronics

Your electronics can still draw on power when on standby or switched off. Instead, unplug items or switch them off at the socket to make sure they’re not draining excess electricity.

#7 Switch to LED bulbs

LED bulbs are certainly more expensive than traditional filament bulbs. Fortunately they use 75% less electricity and can last up to 25 times longer making them an essential eco switch at home!

#8 Turn down the temperature

Turning down your thermostat and your washing machine temperature can seriously reduce the amount of electricity you use.

Remember, most electricity supplied to households results from burning fossil fuels, so reducing your electricity consumption will indirectly reduce your carbon footprint!

Whilst we’re on that subject…

#9 Switch to a green energy provider

As many countries vow to reduce their emissions in line with the Paris Agreement a rise in renewable energy sources has been seen. With this, many alternative energy providers are now providing energy solely from renewable sources.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can both switch to cheaper, fairer and more environmentally-friendly energy and support your community in doing so, check out the Citizens UK Fair Energy Campaign, as well as how student group King’s 4 Change is supporting the campaign at King’s.


Transport represents one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases resulting from human activities, specifically car and plane travel. Let’s look at the alternatives.

#10 Drive less

Driving less is a great way to cut your emissions. Try cycling or public transport as an alternative to your morning commute. Not only will this reduce CO2 emissions but also other harmful pollutants.

#11 Try staycations

Air travel is another hugely polluting industry. Avoiding unnecessary flights by going by train when possible or opting for a local staycation is a great way to cut down on emissions.


#12 Get involved!

Sign petitions, go to protests, engage on social media, and share with your peers and community. Use your voice and use your vote!

Do you have any other tips for reducing your carbon footprint at home? Comment down below and let us know your favourites!



King’s Energy: A look into the pros and cons of renewable energy sources

This guest blog comes from Mason Cole, MA Politics and Contemporary History student and Sustainability Champion Assistant (SCA), supporting the King’s Energy Team.

With energy being such an important issue these days, no doubt you’ve heard of renewable energy. But what counts as renewable energy? Which energy source is best? How does it work? So many questions!

Don’t worry, here at King’s Energy we’ve got you covered. We’ve picked out the 5 main renewable energy sources and crunched them into a simple pro and con for each.

Solar Power

Let’s start with the obvious – solar power. We could all do with a little more sun, but why not make the most of the little sun we do have?

  • Pro: Low-maintenance. Once solar panels are installed, not only can they drastically increase the value of a building, but they also last for 30 years meaning you need to do little besides sit and save money on your energy!
  • Con: Unfortunately they aren’t suitable for every roof type. If your roof has slate or cedar tiles, then it may not be possible for you to install the racking necessary to mount the panels. Additionally, the initial cost of installing solar panels is fairly high.

Wind Power

I think we can all agree that wind is something we get plenty of on these shores, but just how efficient is it?

  • Pro: Space efficiency. Wind turbines actually take up fairly limited space for what they produce and new initiatives such as floating wind farms could see this increase further in years to come.
  • Con: Output is intermittent. While we do get a lot of wind in the UK, it is not 24/7, meaning wind turbines should be paired with some form of energy capture technology.


As an island nation we have an abundance of water, so why not consider using it to fuel our everyday lives?

  • Pro: Reliable. Usually, hydropower plants are installed near stable bodies of water meaning the supply is constant. As such, it is a good option to have when your wind turbines or solar panels are not meeting demand.
  • Con: Hydropower faces a unique set of environmental and social challenges. It can adversely impact the surrounding environment and populations by changing the course of rivers and other bodies of water, altering animal migration habits, impacting land use or even displacing local populations.


A rather controversial one, but a good means to ensure that nothing goes to waste – or is it…?

  • Pro: Reduce waste. Biomass can make use of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of organic matter which currently sits in landfill sites.
  • Con: Space and cost requirements. Transporting and storing the waste is a costly and time-consuming process. Competition for arable land for other agricultural practices is also an issue, and the drive to create biomass farms can result in deforestation and food security issues in some regions. It is therefore crucial for bioenergy projects to be assessed against the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental.


What many consider to be the silver bullet – but is hydrogen all it’s made out to be?

  • Pro: No harmful emissions! The only emission from hydrogen is clean drinking water.
  • Con: Volatility. Hydrogen needs to be stored in liquid form as it is volatile and prone to combustion. This makes it incredibly hard to store and transport.

Which of these do you think is the way forward? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’d like more information or want to get involved, email us at or head over to the King’s Sustainability Instagram.