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Telegraph’s Puff For Green Energy

December 12, 2020

By Paul Homewood

h/t Patsy Lacey


There have been some pretty absurd articles in the Telegraph lately concerning all things green, but this one must be in the running for the Dross of the Year Award!




The swarms of young people moving back home during coronavirus lockdowns will have left many parents paying higher household bills.

One exception to this is the family of 24-year-old Grace Stencil, from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, who helped her parents save more than £7,000 a year on their bills by switching to an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Ms Stencil, who runs her own company selling CBD-infused products, moved in with her parents when lockdown struck and quickly realised that they were spending far more on energy bills than they needed to.

When her parents received a monthly energy bill of £713, equivalent to £8,556 a year, she set about looking for ways to cut costs – and their carbon footprint.

“My mum mentioned in passing how much they were paying. Over the years, we’d had a pool put in, which costs a lot to heat, and started heating our conservatory in the winter. Things just started adding up,” Ms Stencil said.

“I thought the cost was absurd. So, we all sat down together and went through the changes we could make.”

While the aim was to save money, Ms Stencil was also keen to nudge her family towards a greener lifestyle.

After trawling a price comparison website, the family found they could cut their energy bill by £4,380 a year by switching from their old supplier’s expensive Economy 7 tariff to a cheaper deal with Pure Planet, a renewable energy supplier, while at the same time cutting their carbon dioxide emissions to zero.

Ms Stencil’s father, who commuted less during lockdown, also decided to sell the family’s petrol-powered Jaguar and switch to an electric Tesla, which they expect to reduce their running costs by more than £1,800 a year.

Ms Stencil said: “My dad has always liked cars and thought he would save money in the long run by switching to electric. As he wasn’t travelling to London too much during the lockdown, it was a convenient option.”

On top of switching energy supplier and swapping petrol for electric, the family decided to convert the Aga from an oil-burning model to an electric one, saving them around £1,680 a year.

They also installed a better swimming pool cover to reduce heat loss by 85pc and cut running costs by a third, saving £780 a year. In their mission to go green, the Stencils even replaced their lightbulbs with more efficient LED versions. “Once we got going, we just thought, ‘we are on a roll’,” Ms Stencil said.

Without taking into account the cost or savings of the new Tesla, the family spent a total of £2,800 on home improvements, which they should recoup through energy bill savings in roughly four months. Including the outlay for the Tesla Model X, it would take just over five years to make up for the expenditure with savings.

There is plenty of research suggesting that most people would like to be more environmentally friendly, but according to the Pure Planet People & Power Report, 81pc of adults admit they could do more to be sustainable at home. The survey found that almost two thirds of the public think it is more expensive to lead a sustainable lifestyle, while only 5pc think it is cheaper to be green.

Almost a third of 18-to-35-year-old said they could not afford to be more sustainable, compared to one-in-five over-55s.

Cordelia Samson, of comparison website Uswitch, said: “It’s a common misconception that renewable energy plans are more expensive than other types of tariff. Green energy is advancing rapidly, meaning renewable energy can be cheaper to produce than ever before. This means that green energy plans can be some of the cheapest on the market.”

Ms Stencil added: “There are so many statistics coming out on how we’re ruining the world, and I think every little helps. If everyone does their part, it’s going to make an impact.

“I recommend going green completely – it really wasn’t difficult. “Our life hasn’t changed dramatically. It took a maximum of four hours for us to sit down and figure out what changes to make. The changes then happened within a week. Now we have better consciences.” And cheaper bills, too.

For a start, what normal family spends £7000 on energy every year, never mind saves that much. The “swimming pool” might have given the game away! In fact, the “house” concerned is a dirty great manor house. No doubt the sort of property that the Telegraph think we all live in.



Little Manor, Risby, Bury St Edmonds


And the Stencils did not save £7000 by “going green” – they saved it by using a price comparison website, which would have turned up multiple deals from a variety of companies at the same sort of price.

Incidentally, their old deal was Economy 7, which is aimed at getting customers to take advantage of lower prices at night. Unfortunately you pay through the nose for daytime usage with these deals!


And the new supplier, Pure Planet, is not supplying 100% renewable energy – it merely buys Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin certificates. (REGOs).

As for the implication that green energy can be cheaper than other deals, this is only possible because renewable energy is subsidised by all energy users, meaning that it is sold on the market well below cost. Naturally, USwitch would love to attract more customers to use their website, because they get paid commission.

In fact, this whole story is no more than a puff piece for green energy suppliers and USwitch, something the Telegraph has neglected to mention.

As for young Ms Stencil, I hope she is not quite as gullible when she is running her company!

Needless to say, the author, Will Kirkman, is yet another of those wet behind the ears, young reporters, only a few years out of University. 

Little wonder that the Telegraph has become such a joke.

  1. subseaeng permalink
    December 12, 2020 7:25 pm

    I completely agree with you on this Paul. Dreadful insult to any reader. I couldn’t believe it earlier today whilst reading the article.

  2. Mike Jackson permalink
    December 12, 2020 7:36 pm

    I pointed out that since at that point wind/solar were supplying 14% of UK electricity supply (it’s now down to 7% — barely more than the French Interconnector and I refuse to count biomass as ‘renewable’!) if everyone followed their example 86% of homes would be without power. In fact the situation would be worse because domestic consumers would certainly have a priority low enough to ensure there would precious little of that 14% left by the time it got to them.

    Why anybody writes this drivel or believes it continues to mystify me. The idea that you can choose what colour of electricity only works on a highly gullible public. Surely there has to be some way of educating people or at the very least protecting them from themselves.

    It’s sad to see a paper like the Telegraph giving space to this sort of deliberately misleading guff.

    • Dick Goodwin permalink
      December 13, 2020 10:04 am

      I also love the often used quote by homeowners with solar panels that any ‘unused’ is sold back to the National Grid. Where do they think this electricity actually goes? Does it just go to the house next door or does it magically find its way back to the Power station and then come back out again. If only someone would invent a subsidised scheme to sell rainwater back to the Water Companies I think that would be very popular.

      • Mike Jackson permalink
        December 13, 2020 10:37 am

        I seem to remember an incident some years ago where water companies were planning to charge (or perhaps it was simply object to) people with water butts collecting rainwater on the grounds that the water was their property.

        I gather this is the situation in parts of the US!

      • Chris permalink
        December 14, 2020 1:46 pm

        Dick, that is very good. Quite a chuckle at my end.

  3. Roland F Hirsch permalink
    December 12, 2020 7:41 pm

    There are so many flaws in this article!
    “When her parents received a monthly energy bill of £713, equivalent to £8,556 a year,”: how could one know after one month that the rest of the year had exactly the same bill each month, even though they have different climates and even different numbers of days?

    “Ms Stencil said: “My dad has always liked cars and thought he would save money in the long run by switching to electric. As he wasn’t travelling to London too much during the lockdown, it was a convenient option.”: What happens when (if) the lockdown ever ends and it no longer is convenient?

    Many things were purchased: expensive car, furnace (presumably a hot water unit, too), swimming pool, etc. “Including the outlay for the Tesla Model X, it would take just over five years to make up for the expenditure with savings.” does this include reasonable estimates for energy costs in future years (which won’t go down)? Does it include interest on the purchases?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      December 13, 2020 1:32 am

      I assume they had a large refill of the oil tank for the Aga, which would last several months. Though the idea that they would save money by switching to an electric Aga is complete nonsense. They are excruciatingly expensive to operate, plus they do not come cheap – expect to spend north of £5,000 for a new one.

      • Robert Jones permalink
        December 13, 2020 10:59 am

        Plus the building works necessary to remove the oil-fired Aga (which, from experience, is extremely heavy) and all its underground pipework and oil tank and then install an electric model instead. It was a silly article and, as a Telegraph subscriber, required me to write and complain first thing this morning. (I should have realised that NALOPKT readers tend to jump in quite quickly because I am Number 31 in the queue!)

  4. Gas Geezer permalink
    December 12, 2020 8:04 pm

    The telegraph got rid of the very sensible Jeff Howell , can’t think why with sound advice like this : this :

    • Vic Hanby permalink
      December 13, 2020 1:22 pm

      I’ve had a number of exchanges with Jeff on things like heat pumps and TRVs. He’s sensible old school and greatly missed.

    • I don't believe it! permalink
      December 13, 2020 11:27 pm

      Because he made them look stupid a couple of times. One was a member of staff not knowing the difference between draft and draught.

  5. johnbuk permalink
    December 12, 2020 8:06 pm

    Bloody hell, I’m just of out the back to dig my own swimming pool and get a special non-carbon cover and then sit back and retire. So obvious when you think about it.
    Thank you, thank you Ms Stencil.

  6. Derek W Wood permalink
    December 12, 2020 8:09 pm

    I saved myself £71-20 a month by not buying “The Telegraph” seven days a week. In fact I’ve ditched print media completely.

    • CheshireRed permalink
      December 12, 2020 8:47 pm

      I cancelled their full-price package (~£29 p/m) and went on a basic access deal: £4 per month for run of the digital paper only.
      Based on current output even that may be 4 quid too much!

  7. Malcolm Chapman permalink
    December 12, 2020 8:13 pm

    I used to defend the Telegraph to myself, but I agree that the level of ignorant nonsense is now intolerable. Perhaps ‘dirty’ great manor house might not be understood as the metaphor it is, particularly by younger writers of idiotic articles in the Daily Telegraph. Otherwise, great stuff, as usual. Thank you.

  8. GeoffB permalink
    December 12, 2020 8:14 pm

    The comments, including mine, are mainly sarcastic. There have been a growing number of these puff pieces in the MSM, no doubt due to the nudge unit influencing the masses for COP 26. Incidentally the Dutch interconnector is down with a cable fault till February, a few blackouts would be useful adverse publicity for renewables.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      December 13, 2020 2:21 am

      And the Belgians have been having power shortages, despite having access to the Dutch coal fired power that would normally be exported to the UK. This was December 5th:

      In Belgium, over-optimistic predictions for wind and solar generation caused the TSO Elia to call on tertiary reserve, having worked through both its primary and secondary options.

      This caused prices to reach an “extreme” €2,250/MWh according to EnAppSys, which quickly had a knock-on impact on other markets.

      “That kind of sucked volume out of the Netherlands, as it exported a lot of power to Belgium, which then made the Netherlands a bit short,” continued Hewitt. “So that then meant that when National Grid came knocking on the Netherlands’ door for interconnector power this morning, it was priced at £300/MWh, £410/MWh and eventually almost £600/MWh.

      The pressure is now really on for commissioning IFA2 – though whether the French have any spare power to send over it is a moot question. We’ve certainly been covering some of their morning rush hours by exporting to them.

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        December 13, 2020 11:25 am

        I think the French have several Nuclear Stations due to go offline early 2021 for maintenance delayed because of Covid. A blocking high in January could prove interesting.

  9. Harry Passfield permalink
    December 12, 2020 8:18 pm

    I can’t believe that the DT were being serious with this nonsense. Let’s face it, if you start from a monthly bill of over £700 – about five times normal mortals – anything you switch off is going to make a difference.
    Telling people the pool cost money is a kick in the slats for many; swapping a Jaguar (I’ve owned three and took the hit) for a Tesla is a kick in the other ones.
    Nope, on balance, I think this was a spoof piece by the DT to take the urine out of those who worry about ‘carbon’.
    The comments on the DT are (cough) somewhat humorous.

  10. CheshireRed permalink
    December 12, 2020 8:19 pm

    The very fact that we have an energy system where people can ‘save’ hundreds or thousands of pounds shows how ridiculous it’s all become.

    Such ‘savings’ (real or imaginary) are based on supply of the *same* fuel, supplied via the *same* infrastructure.

    For someone to ‘save’ means they were being overcharged in the first place! And who enabled that to occur? Oh yeah, our genius politicians.

  11. Gray permalink
    December 12, 2020 8:26 pm

    Headline on front page of Telegraph Money was-
    “How saving the planet can also free up space in your wallet”
    Says it all really, nothing left in it.
    Has somebody there got an ironic sense of humour?

  12. Graeme No.3 permalink
    December 12, 2020 8:28 pm

    Covering the swimming pool is a saving? Only if you are heating it in winter so you can use it, but how many do that?
    As for switching the Aga to electric heating when electricity prices are being pushed up by government actions, my comments wouldn’t be publishable. Natural gas would have been a better choice.
    And I doubt that one month’s bill of £713 means an annual heating bill of £8556, unless the house is in a particularly cold part of Suffolk.

    • bobn permalink
      December 13, 2020 2:48 am

      Yep. My Aga style stove is wood fired. Works brilliantly. Not only is the fuel free i also save on gym fees due to walks out to chop firewood. No fees charged for the healthy axe swinging.

      • bobn permalink
        December 13, 2020 2:53 am

        The stove is a Thornhill – highly recommended. Wood fired – heats well and cooks well. Plant trees and then burn them in your stove is the future.

      • Gamecock permalink
        December 15, 2020 10:48 pm

        My favorite quote from my late MIL:

        “That wood warms twice.”

        I do caution that ” healthy axe swinging” will ruin your golf swing.

  13. Lorde Late permalink
    December 12, 2020 9:13 pm

    And the capital outlay of a Tesla and an electric aga?🤔 £130,000?

  14. Barbara permalink
    December 12, 2020 9:21 pm

    I dispute the £2,800 claimed to have been spent on improvements excluding the Tesla as by googling changing an Aga from oil to electricity it seems it can cost between £2,500 and £4,000 depending upon the model.
    The article states ‘ Including the outlay for the Tesla Model X, it would take just over five years to make up for the expenditure with savings.’ I make that five years x £7,000 (which is what they are claiming to save in a year) = £35,000 in expenditure. Just who is kidding who here?

    • StephenP permalink
      December 13, 2020 12:18 pm

      How long do the batteries last on a Tesla, and how much do they cost to replace?

      • December 13, 2020 5:36 pm

        If you lease one you don’t need to think about that.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        December 13, 2020 7:26 pm

        Aren’t they like yachts? If you need to ask what it costs, you can’t afford it.

  15. John Peter permalink
    December 12, 2020 9:59 pm

    I read the headlines in the digital DT just to get a feel for what’s happening on the Tory side of politics. Would not spend a penny on what they write now despite their £1 offerings. I just cannot believe the wide acceptance now of the so called climate emergency. The World has gone made and it will end in tears. People have lost their sense of reality.

  16. Devoncamel permalink
    December 12, 2020 10:08 pm

    Total preposterous middle-class tosh. What household can save £140 per month on running their Aga? How much do the things cost to run?
    My house is new and off the gas grid. Annual comparisons save no more than about £20 a month. I do not aspire to an Aga.

    • David Parker permalink
      December 13, 2020 10:19 am

      My oil fired AGA at current prices cost less than £100 per month. This includes all hot water and two radiators as well as cooking and heating part of the house.

      • Robert Jones permalink
        December 13, 2020 11:07 am

        And drying clothes on rainy days and giving the dogs and cats a warm place to sleep at night!

  17. December 12, 2020 10:23 pm

    I really want to know what sort of house their neighbours the Protractors have.

    /apologies to the Stencils for my poor humour

  18. It doesn't add up... permalink
    December 13, 2020 2:57 am

    There are a couple of factors that make Pure Planet a sensible choice for these electricity guzzlers. Firstly, they probably still count as a smaller retailer, exempt from having to pay for some of the green levies: they had about 100,000 customers in May 2019. Secondly, their business model is somewhat unusual:

    Pure Planet promises its customers that it’s a “no mark up” supplier. The company’s per-unit price is calculated to cover only the wholesale energy price along with other costs it can’t avoid, including energy transport, government levies, green taxes and VAT.

    Instead, it charges a membership fee, currently £8.00 a month for electricity or £16 for dual fuel, which is where the supplier gets its profit from. In reality, this is simply a higher-than-normal standing charge rebranded

    • Gerry, England permalink
      December 13, 2020 10:44 am

      Yes, I was with one of those types of companies for a while until I found cheaper elsewhere. As to the renewable bit – I thought everyone is now 100% renewable so there is no marketing difference in offering that, It used to cost more for that virtue-signalling. I have been with small suppliers for years and had one collapse but it was all handled smoothly. I had a gas company fold and that was far worse possibly due to Ovo taking over and Economy Energy had tried to stiff all customers with higher bills to raise money so there was a refund due. I saved £400 by leaving Ovo. Currently I keep seeing that there are cheaper rates with my current supplier and I have changed once as the savings covered the £30 contract fee.

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        December 13, 2020 6:24 pm

        Did you compare kWh and standing charges between suppliers or take the price comparison website predictions. I found it impossible to match the specified kWh charges from the supplier with what the internet was telling me. The difference in gas, I didn’t go further, required 10s of thousands of kWh usage to have the difference claimed by price comparison.

  19. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    December 13, 2020 8:32 am

    An electric AGA costs a lot MORE to run than an oil fired one. The clue may be in the cannabis products.

    • John Palmer permalink
      December 13, 2020 7:36 pm

      Far out, Chas!!!

  20. Vrager 1 permalink
    December 13, 2020 8:58 am

    Who has a £713/month energy bill? You have to live in a huge house, with heated swimming pool, without mains gas. Most of us only have a £100-£150/month energy bill for electric and gas. Saving by going “green” always involves investment in new kit, whether a heat pump, solar panels, or insulation, for which pay back has to be taken into account. Spending £20,000 on “green” kit to save perhaps £200 a year will take 100 years to pay back, by which time the “green” kit will be obsolete and in need of replacement half a dozen times over!

    The so called saving for this profiigate household would more cheaply involve just switching off most things, and chopping some wood cut from their estate to get free heat.

    • December 13, 2020 9:15 am

      My gas and electricity bills add up to £ 40 per month.
      I can lease a Tesla for £ 420 per month.
      I will save money when I swap my supliers so I pay minus £ 390 for gas and electricity.

  21. Phoenix44 permalink
    December 13, 2020 9:17 am

    Where do they think they have reduced emissions in any meaningful way? Changing tariffs does not and the overall mix of renewables to fossil fuels doesn’t change when they change supplier. LEDs will reduce their consumption very slightly but they still heat a swimming pool and use an Aga!

  22. December 13, 2020 9:18 am

    My two cents on this issue (it was too long for a comment)

  23. yonason permalink
    December 13, 2020 9:21 am

    What! Poor Daddums had to sell his Jag? What IS this world coming to?!

  24. cookers52 permalink
    December 13, 2020 10:45 am

    There is always a market for bullshit.

  25. Ben Vorlich permalink
    December 13, 2020 11:17 am

    I’ve only just moved and have done all the price comparison stuff. Two things stood out.
    1 At a per kWh rate plus standing charge there is very little difference between suppliers. In order to get it right you need precise daily consumption data.
    2 Everyone offers a zero carbon energy supply which is impossible.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      December 13, 2020 7:45 pm

      Well, a zero carbon supply is possible if for instance you live close to a nuclear power station, as for example in Bridgewater, Somerset, where the main electricity substation is fed directly from Hinkley Point, with a couple of local solar farms chipping in on top when the sun is out. Bridgewater only consumes a small fraction of the Hinkley Point output – the rest spreads on down the transmission lines across the SW. Only when it is shut for refuelling does that change.

  26. Penda100 permalink
    December 13, 2020 1:01 pm

    Should this have been published on 1 April? Beyond parody.

    • yonason permalink
      December 13, 2020 6:41 pm

      Good one for the Babylon Bee?

  27. Tym fern permalink
    December 13, 2020 1:08 pm

    What a load of old twaddle!

  28. December 13, 2020 1:30 pm

    It is shocking that the widespread %100 renewable claim is not illegal.

    There is certain amount of renewable electricity available, sometimes very little, but if I “buy” some then someone else won’t be able to, so nothing changes.

    • yonason permalink
      December 13, 2020 6:44 pm

      Balancing the books? What a novel concept! Now if only those writing the laws had any clue how to do that…

  29. December 13, 2020 4:53 pm

    As I mentioned previously this is all part of releasing the PR army for Boris Chavez’s, GreenDream 2050.
    Dale Vince & Natalie Bennett were on TalkRadio at least twice
    .. Fri Dec 4th Vince had done head to head with Richard Wellings on the IEA
    The way it worked was 2x 2 min each no interruptions
    so Vince just … thru his teeth in his part
    and then dismissed Wellings
    He gave a fantasy view of the world
    “Green Energy is cheapest” nope it increases your bills
    “EVs are zero emmssns” No they aren’t

    Here is a direct link to the segment on youtube

    • Devoncamel permalink
      December 13, 2020 11:00 pm

      Dale Vince OBE, sounded really convincing. He stated twice that an electric car costs 1p per mile to run, fifteen times cheaper than a fossil fuelled one. I was looking hard to see if his nose was growing.

  30. Rudolph Hucker permalink
    December 14, 2020 12:00 pm

    Having recently renewed my DT subscription, If they continue to print a load tosh like this it’s time to stop my 50+ years of readership!

  31. Ray Sanders permalink
    December 14, 2020 9:44 pm

    I have just cancelled my subscription to the Telegraph. I am not prepared to pay for such offensive crap like this.

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