Millions of people in the UK have woken up to much higher energy prices from April 1, 2022. No April Fool, the combined price of gas and electric supply to British homes has risen by 54% on average from today, and in October it is set to rise even higher.
The reason for this is the rising price in global wholesale energy prices. The wholesale price of gas was around four times higher in January 2022 than at the start of 2021, so UK energy firms were having to buy gas at more than they were billing households for it, and going bust as a result. The UK’s energy regulator raised the price cap placed on energy firms from today, to prevent more firms from going under, but importantly, allowing them to pass on the huge energy price rises to the consumer.
The rise in electricity prices
The UK produces 40% of its electricity from natural gas, so with a quadrupling of the price of gas, electricity has gone up too. The price of electricity has doubled in the last ten years from 14 pence per kilowatt hour in 2012 to 28 pence (37 cents) per kilowatt-hour on average today. And that means the price of powering our reef tanks has gone up too.
This may mean the final death knell for multiple T5 lit systems but for the vast majority who already run energy-efficient LED are there any further energy savings to be made? Manifolds may regain popularity in the UK whereby one return pump is used to power reactors at the same time. And lit algae refugia and algae reactors may lose favor to other forms of non-energy consuming nutrient control.
The rising trend in high energy, wall-to-wall Acropora-filled tanks may plateau and start to dip as reefers reconsider LPS dominant tanks, with fewer lights and fewer wave pumps. And inevitably, British reef tanks may start to shrink, as seasoned reefers ditch the eight-foot for a cheaper to run five-foot reef, swap out a five for a three-foot, and continue down the line.
Extra frag tanks may be shut down and even nano reefs may now seem like the most sensible option for some British reefkeepers. And don’t forget, prices are set to go up again in another six months, and not by a small percentage. Combine that with the record price of petrol and diesel in the UK at up to £2 per liter ($9.93 per US gallon) and Brits are facing a real Cost of Living Crisis
Germany’s reliance on Russian gas is not going to end well either as today Russia is demanding payment in Rubles, which Germany says they won’t do, and as result, Germany has warned its population to brace themselves for spiraling energy prices. Cost of living rises is a European problem now too.
Our advice on energy saving
We advise a pragmatic approach to energy-saving that should start with all appliances around the home. There’s no point in turning off an aquarium LED light if other domestic lighting around the home is still energy-hungry and incandescent. New TVs, refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines are much more energy-efficient than they used to be so look to swap them out before your tank, and of course, a better-insulated home means less heat loss in the first place. Solar panels are a genuine long-term option and we like the direct link-up between solar-powered homes and solar-powered corals within them.
Aquarium lights and heaters should only be on for half the day at most and lighting duration can be cut from 12 to 9 hours per day without problems. Invest in controllable DC pumps and set wavemakers to pulse mode where they aren’t on the whole time, and aren’t even on full power for most of the slow pulse. And if you have two wavemakers and an anti sync mode, one will be on say 75% power while the other is on 25%, and vice versa, meaning you only actually have the running costs of one pump.
Don’t forget the king of energy savers when it comes to tank heating either (and evaporation,) a lid. And there’s no reason why your tank can’t generate its own income by trading frags which then goes towards the cost of running the tank itself.
The price of every aspect of our hobby is increasing from the cost of shipping goods and livestock around the world to producing products, to running our tanks. Even driving to the LFS. But don’t give up the hobby you love, especially after all the amazing breakthroughs in coral care happening right now. If you live in cooler climbs there will be inevitable costs involved in keeping a tropical coral reef in your home but captive coral collections, and coral culturalists like you, are the future of protecting and repopulating natural reefs. And there are still loads of solutions to do it cheaper.