Archives for posts with tag: Quality-of-life index

By Deborah Burley

With energy bills soaring and the UK declared as the worst place to live in Europe according to our recent Quality of Life Index, things are looking a little dreary for us aren’t they?

At uSwitch we’re looking for ways of improving this situation and we believe it’s the small lifestylechanges that could make a huge difference. Because we’ve got a shop full of energy-efficient products, we thought it’d be a good idea to tell you about our top five products to reduce your energy bills. This way we can start feeling a little better about the country we call home.

After all, if we can spend less on living costs then it really is a rather lovely place to be.

Top five products to reduce your energy bills…

Four Enviroplugs (family pack) 

This is a great way of saving money if you’ve got a household full of mobile phone users. The Enviroplugs are adapters that plug into the wall socket and phone charger – once the phone is charged, the Enviroplug turns the power off. If, for example, you charge your phone overnight then you could cut this energy by 90%.

Radiator Booster 

This is a great energy-efficient product for the winter months – the Radiator Booster draws in and circulates wasted heat from the back of your radiator to keep  you warm and reduce those bills – no more feeling guilty for having heating on.

energyEGG standby saver 

We’re a big fan of the energyEGG. It not only looks great, but it’s also incredibly clever and could save you up to £37* a year by turning your appliances off for you when you’ve left the room.

EcoPulse TurboHead 

If you have a water meter then this shower head is for you – it pulses 30-40 (unnoticeable) times per second to reduce water bills and also delivers a fantastically powerful shower.

Solar Power Station 150W 

Why not collect your household energy from the sun and reduce your energy bills substantially? It’s a great to know that you’re also doing your bit to help the environment and it could generate up to 750 watt hours of electricity per day**. As well as this it’s easy to install without needing an electrician –  we can’t fault this solar panel.

*Based on average figures calculated by the Energy Saving Trust and DEFRA, using a household electricity consumption of 4015kWh per year at 13.95p/kWh.

**The Solar Power Station generates 150W of electricity an hour, equating to 750 watt hours based on an average of 5 hours of sunlight per day.

Scott Somerville, from E.ON, talks about why we spend so much of our income on gas and electricity costs:

The posts connected to the uSwitch Quality of Life Index raised an interesting perception that many people seem to hold true but is actually very far from the case.

The notion that we have some of Europe’s highest electricity and gas prices in the UK is wrong – what we do have though, and here’s the important bit, is some of the highest energy use and therefore higher bills than some countries.

This is despite the fact that some of the countries have much lower average temperatures and fewer hours of daylight than the UK but still often manage to use less energy for heating their homes.

But we can change this.

So let’s look at the facts and then take some action. These tables, based on government figures (source: DECC), show the price of electricity and gas around Europe:

Click to see larger image

Click to see larger image

The UK’s near the cheaper end but it doesn’t feel like that when we all get our bills.

There’s a harsh reality we have to face up to. While many people use energy wisely and are very efficient, many of us aren’t. This is despite the fact that with some simple changes and a little effort we can get control of our bills and potentially cut the amount spent every month on electricity and gas. This isn’t just something that’d be nice to do – it’s essential. The reality is global energy prices are set to continue rising that’s why to cut your bills you’ve got to take some action and we can help you every step of the way.

Sounds nice in theory but what do we all need to do?

Insulate: without insulation, you can lose 25% of your heat through the roof and 33% through the walls; with it you could save up to £340 a year.

Moderate: because you can’t see energy, you can’t see it being wasted. That’s why, in the last two years alone, we’ve given out 277,000 energy monitors, and software to enable our customers to track energy usage over time.

Generate: if you’re making energy yourself, then you don’t need to buy it from someone else. That’s why we’re helping customers to take advantage of the Government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme which is designed to kick-start the renewable energy market. If you can afford to invest in solar panels you can actually be paid to generate energy yourself. If you can’t, no problem; rent-a-roof schemes such as E.ON’s SolarExchange can provide solar panels without the need for substantial upfront investment, leaving you to benefit from the free electricity they generate.

We’re working really hard to engage with all our customers to help them make changes to their energy use and their bills. If we can help our customers control their bills and maybe even save a few quid we’ll have more happier customers and at the end of the day that’s good news for you and good news for us.

So don’t waste any more time (or money) take five minutes and head to where we’ll help you to create a personalised energy plan to reduce your consumption and save money whether you’re an E.ON customer or not.

Follow E.ON on Twitter @talkingenergy and find us on Facebook /eonenergyfit

I asked three people who’ve moved to the UK from other European countries how the quality of life in the UK compares to the quality of life back home. Here’s a little summary of their responses…


Image via Flickr: MagdaMontemor

UK vs. Ireland

Carolyn from 9th place Ireland has lived in the UK for 8 years.

“Work/life balance isn’t good in the UK. I work longer hours.  In Ireland they know how to live outside of work. I’ll give you an example; I was in a pub in Dublin and some Bankers on their lunch break sat on our table. They weren’t talking about their jobs or work, they were talking about their pets. I only knew they were bankers from their badges.”

“When it comes to money, nothing seems to works out.  Salaries are crazy in the UK. You can get a lot more for your money in Ireland in terms of rent.

“There is more opportunity. There is also a lot more to do; big days out, theatres etc. Everything seems grander. I would still rather live in the UK than back home.”

UK vs. Germany

Silke from 6th place Germany has lived in London for 3 years.

“It’s the basics, like transport, that are worse in the UK.  What really takes away your quality of life in the UK is things like the way your journey into work,  you are squashed and the wait is always longer.”

“The health service is better in Germany, you get an appointment very quickly and everything just seems more fresh and modern. The decor in some of the UK doctor’s surgeries looks very 1960’s.”

“I love the culture in London, the museums for example.  We have quite a lot of cultural offer in Germany as well, but most of London’s museums and cultural offers are for free. In Germany you usually have to pay an entrance fee which stops many people from visiting museums etc. spontaneously or between two appointments for example.”

UK vs. Italy

Fabrizio from 5th place Italy has lived in London for 5 years.

“I prefer the climate and the food in Italy; we have better quality raw materials. For example, even the water tastes better, which means the coffee taste nicer. The vegetables and the olive oil are fresh and so the pizzas taste better.  Small things that make a big difference. There seems to be more flavourings and additives in UK food.

“Living does seem easier in the UK. Though it really does depend whether you are in North or South Italy. In southern Italy, for example, unemployment rates are at around 27%.  And, the cost of living in Italy doesn’t seem relative to what you earn.”

“UK public services like buses and tubes are better in the UK, in terms of regularity and quality of service. There are less delays (believe it or not!) In Italy, you know when you’re leaving, but you never know when you’re going to get to where you’ve got to go.”

A few differences in opinion. Generally speaking, the British culture seems to have a lot of appeal, and perhaps goes part way to making up for dissatisfaction with other things like working hours. One thing worth noting is that these three have all spent a lot of their time in the UK living in London, which isn’t necessarily representative of the rest of the country. 

Have  you recently moved to Europe? Or from  Europe to the UK? 

Has your quality of life improved? 

The uSwitch Quality of Life Index revealed the ten best and worst countries to live in in Europe.

The UK came out bottom.

The reasons?

  • Long working hours.
  • Low number of holiday days a year.
  • Expensive food, high energy prices.
  • Higher than average petrol costs.
  • High retirement age.
  • Lack of sunshine.

Coming out on top were France and Spain , while Sweden and Ireland joined UK in the bottom three.

We asked a few people around the office what they thought about these findings, and whether the UK really is the worst place to live?

A surprising number seem to disagree,  saying they think England isn’t really that bad.

Do you agree with the results of the Quality of Life index? What makes living in the UK so bad?