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Beginners Guide to Energy Mis-selling

Mis-selling of energy is a big problem. It is hard to believe that rogue ‘energy brokers’ are a serious threat to the UK economy, sounding more like the plot of a low-budget spy thriller than anything else. It is somewhat shocking then that these rogue brokers have conned small businesses from an estimated £2 billion through unscrupulous means. Source There are three main techniques to look out for to identify rogue traders.

Mis-selling

It may be surprising to know that energy brokers aren’t actually legally obligated to offer the best deal to customers. This leaves rogue energy brokers free to pass-off contracts that provide themselves with the most money as the ‘best’ for the customer. This can be through contracts that offer high broker’s commission, or unsuitably long contracts.

Lack of transparency

Energy brokers will sometimes not clearly present their contractual fees and charges to customers – do you know how much rogue brokers will profit from your monthly energy bills? Most people don’t. They are also not obligated to scour the market for the best provider and can present a select few as the only options. Often these are the ones that offer the largest margins for the broker.

Misrepresentation

Another common tactic used by rogue brokers is to falsely identify themselves so that customers believe they are operating on the behalf of a supplier. This is a good way of exerting pressure onto businesses to change contracts that suit rogue brokers.

 

To a lot of people, this is new information – which makes it even more shocking how widespread this issue is. Of the 3,000 energy brokers operating within the UK less than 10% have registered to be self-regulated. This leaves the other 90% free to do as they please. Every business is fair-game for these rogue energy brokers – who have targeted care homes, churches, and charities in the past. Real-world examples of energy broker malpractice include Stranton Social Club in Hartlepool who paid a whopping 41% of their total energy bill to their broker in hidden commission fees. source This figure is not uncommon, with businesses often paying up to 50% of their total energy bill in commission.

Ofgem has been aware of this issue for years. They put forward plans aimed at protecting small-businesses from this malpractice as early as 2014. These plans have since been dropped after finding inconclusive evidence of malpractice. Recently the energy market has become saturated with new entrants all wanting a slice of the un-regulated profit pie.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. In 2020 Ofgem returned with increased vigour announcing new suggestions on how to improve the energy retail market. With the introduction of smart metering, increased support for customers, and faster more reliable switching it is hoped that there will be a real impact in tackling rogue energy brokers. This includes a new two-week cooling-off period for any businesses with a new energy supplier, giving them the freedom to reconsider the terms of the contract. Also, a new dispute resolution service for any unhappy customers will mediate discussions between energy brokers and dissatisfied customers. source These measures should hopefully redistribute the unequal power dynamic between rogue brokers and customers.

If you are worried you may fall victim to malpractice the most important thing to do is to complete your own research – this should give a good idea of how much providers actual charge for energy provision which should also make it easier to identify if and when there are hidden costs within a contract. Be vigilant for high-pressure sales pitches as often this is a good sign that you are being pushed a contract that is beneficial for the broker.

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How much electricity does Bitcoin waste?

Bitcoin is dominating the world news and stock markets. However, many people may not know about the energy usage required for mining Bitcoin and its effect on the world. With all-time record highs of Bitcoin in 2021, we see a parallel rise in carbon emissions. Will this rise continue for good?

What Is Bitcoin Mining?

Bitcoin mining is the process of capturing block rewards, mined by groups of miners. These Bitcoin minors plug machines into a wall that takes up electricity, then work away at the Bitcoins network, racing with other miners for the Bitcoin prize. This speed is measured by ‘hashrate’ and calculates the amount of computer power used.

The higher the hashrate, the more Bitcoin that can be mined. With the global increase in Bitcoin popularity, we are seeing huge factories and warehouses crammed with mining rigs. There are also solo Bitcoin miners who work with these larger facilities to collaborate and gain a higher hashrate. These miners use a large amount of electricity as they are constantly working.

Bitcoin And It’s Effect On The Environment

With the influx of more companies mining for Bitcoin, energy usage increases dramatically. This energy usage has a knock-on effect on the environment. Studies from the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index and Bitcoin’s energy use in 2018 translate to a carbon footprint of 19.0 to 29.6 million metric tons of CO2 (475 g CO2 / kWh). It is currently estimated that the Bitcoin network uses up to 0.21% of the world’s supply.

Type Of ActivityAverage Carbon Footprint (per transaction/search)
Bitcoin Transaction233.4kg – 363.5kg of CO2
VISA Transaction0.4g CO2
Google Search0.8g CO2

To put the Bitcoin energy consumption in comparison for you, check out these equivalents:

  • 1 Bitcoin Transaction = 720,792 VISA transactions
  • 1 Bitcoin Transaction = 54,203 hours of watching Youtube
  • 1 Bitcoin Transaction = 6,058 cups of espresso

When talking about Bitcoin mining, we should speak of application-specific integrated circuits. Known more commonly as ASIC these devices are made for mining Bitcoin. Recently, Enegix, a Bitcoin mining firm, set plans for a warehouse consisting of 50,000 ASIC miners. This new facility could alone power 180,000 U.S. homes. If we look at the Bitcoin Network as a whole, it could power over 2.25m homes according to Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index data on Bitcoin.

Another important detail to consider is the ASIC devices. These produce a tonne of electronic waste and they’re very inefficient. On average, these devices become obsolete in under two years. They cannot be used to any other industry other than mining, so cannot be repurposed for other sectors.

Bitcoin Compared To Countries Energy Usage

As we see a rise in the Bitcoin price, we also notice an increase in energy usage from Bitcoin mining. So much that Bitcoin can compare to the total energy usage of over 159 countries. Yes, you read that right, Bitcoin consumes more power than 159 countries.

This equates to the energy usage of 19 European countries, such as Serbia and Belgium. In comparison to the United States, Bitcoin uses 0.8% of its energy demand. This isn’t even considering the other ways Bitcoin is used, such as ATM’s.

Below is a graph showing Bitcoin in comparison to numerous countries energy usage, some may surprise you.

energychart

Alternate Payment Systems Comparison

In an average year, the financial industry completes 500bn transactions. Bitcoin is responsible for 100m of these financial transactions. Bitcoin uses a lot more energy than the average transaction, so it is currently causing an unnecessary strain on the environment.

Bitcoin And Electricity Spikes

In 2019, Iran noticed a huge spike in electricity consumption. After investigating, they located two factories with 1,000 ASIC mining machines. The rise was a shocking 7% in power demand, with cryptocurrency being the primary source of the increase.

In China, Bitcoin was considered to be added to the list of banned activities. This is due to the pollution and waste that is produced by mining bitcoin. In 2017, Chinese regulators took further action by actually closing Bitcoin exchanges. This was an attempt to prevent further mining and abnormal electricity consumption.

Did you know? On average, 70% of all bitcoin mining revenue is returned straight into paying for electricity.

This has led people going to extreme lengths to get the cheapest energy possible. Bitcoin miners  have located to remote areas, such as the mountains in Washington State, Outer Mongolia and Iceland. This new search for cheap energy has even seen a rise in cases of electricity theft.

Bitcoin And Renewable Energy

So, maybe you’re thinking, why can’t Bitcoin miners use renewable energy? Some reports have claimed that they use renewable energy, however, many studies dispute this claim.

Bitcoin is all about money, these miners are looking for the cheapest deal possible to make a nice earning. We’ve seen these miners flocking across the globe in search of the cheapest power possible, we doubt they care about if it is renewable or not. Cheaper power such as natural gas, fossil fuels and oil make them extremely more attractive than a more premium renewable source.

Bitcoin And The Future

Each day we see headlines talking about new record highs of Bitcoin prices and we can’t see it going away any time soon. The electricity it consumes will only increase as more companies invest in Bitcoin mining. Scientists are expecting a surge that will only continue to rise, the more Bitcoin popularity continues.

If the price of Bitcoin goes up and up, you can only expect energy consumption to match. We can only hope that we can develop a way to use renewable, green energy to support Bitcoin; otherwise, we could be looking at a massive crisis in the future.

Protect yourselves in Cold Weather this Winter

People working in extreme weather environments may experience damage due to cold stress. This is a blanket term for when the body can’t maintain a healthy temperature due to prolonged exposure to temperatures below about 8°C.

To avoid danger, people rely on behavioural thermoregulation. When facing the bitter cold, they seek shelter and clothing that will protect them. People instinctively know they must avoid prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures.

In a cold environment, the body expends great energy to keep warm. Steady core temperature is essential to survival. Therefore, blood flow (and heat) is shifted from the extremities. Fingers, toes, and even limbs are sacrificed to keep the chest and abdomen warm.

Prolonged exposure to severe cold can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot, and chilblains. 

Alcohol, fatigue and open wounds increase the risk of hypothermia, which occurs when the body loses more heat than it produces. Early symptoms include shivering, slurred speech, lack of coordination, and cold, pale skin. 

Frostbite occurs when the skin and underlying tissue freeze. Symptoms include cold and tingling or stinging followed by numbness. Trench foot and chilblains are more likely under cold and wet conditions.

While each of these conditions are dangerous, they are only the tip of the iceberg. According to a report by Public Health England, exposure to extremely cold weather increased incidents of heart attack, stroke, flu, respiratory disease, falls, and injury. 

In the last 5 years, there have been 168,000 cold-related deaths in the U.K. Wet conditions and high or cold wind exacerbate the risk.

People who work in cold weather include those in the construction, agricultural, security, and commercial fishing industries. At particular risk are those who work without breaks, older people and those with heart-related health issues.

There are several things employers can advise workers to do to protect themselves. First, they can wear at least three layers of clothing. The outer layer acts as a windbreak. It should be durable but ventilated. 

The middle layer insulates and should also absorb sweat. The inner layer should be well-ventilated to allow moisture to escape so skin remains dry. In general, loose clothing is better than tight garments.

Areas that may require extra protection include the top of the head as well as ears, face, hands and feet. In extreme cases, eye protection may be required. Footwear should be waterproof.

For people working outdoors in the cold, shifts should be scheduled for the warmest part of the day. The time workers spend outdoors should be limited.

Additionally, warm liquids provide relief on a cold day, so providing them to workers can be helpful. To avoid too much caffeine, green and herbal teas, decaffeinated coffee or hot broth might be good options.

Finally, it’s important to pay attention to weather reports, wind chill factors and other data and schedule work accordingly. Be aware of the symptoms listed above and pay special attention to those who are older or have heart issues so that you can help keep them safe.

Bio This is a smaller section of a larger guide about working in cold environments, Many will work in cold temperatures this winter and there are many things that employers and employees can do to protect themselves.

Table of Factors and Multiples

Factors and multiples are different things.

But they both involve multiplication:

  • Factors are what we can multiply to get the number
  • Multiples are what we get after multiplying the number by an integer (a whole number).

Factors Multiples Table

Here are the factors (not including negatives), and some multiples, for 1 to 100:
Factors Multiples
112345678910
1, 22468101214161820
1, 336912151821242730
1, 2, 4481216202428323640
1, 55101520253035404550
1, 2, 3, 66121824303642485460
1, 77142128354249566370
1, 2, 4, 88162432404856647280
1, 3, 99182736455463728190
1, 2, 5, 10102030405060708090100
1, 11112233445566778899110
1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 121224364860728496108120
1, 1313263952657891104117130
1, 2, 7, 1414284256708498112126140
1, 3, 5, 15153045607590105120135150
1, 2, 4, 8, 16163248648096112128144160
1, 171734516885102119136153170
1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 181836547290108126144162180
1, 191938577695114133152171190
1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 2020406080100120140160180200
1, 3, 7, 2121426384105126147168189210
1, 2, 11, 2222446688110132154176198220
1, 2323466992115138161184207230
1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 2424487296120144168192216240
1, 5, 25255075100125150175200225250
1, 2, 13, 26265278104130156182208234260
1, 3, 9, 27275481108135162189216243270
1, 2, 4, 7, 14, 28285684112140168196224252280
1, 29295887116145174203232261290
1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 15, 30306090120150180210240270300
1, 31316293124155186217248279310
1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32326496128160192224256288320
1, 3, 11, 33336699132165198231264297330
1, 2, 17, 343468102136170204238272306340
1, 5, 7, 353570105140175210245280315350
1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, 18, 363672108144180216252288324360
1, 373774111148185222259296333370
1, 2, 19, 383876114152190228266304342380
1, 3, 13, 393978117156195234273312351390
1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 20, 404080120160200240280320360400
1, 414182123164205246287328369410
1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 14, 21, 424284126168210252294336378420
1, 434386129172215258301344387430
1, 2, 4, 11, 22, 444488132176220264308352396440
1, 3, 5, 9, 15, 454590135180225270315360405450
1, 2, 23, 464692138184230276322368414460
1, 474794141188235282329376423470
1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 24, 484896144192240288336384432480
1, 7, 494998147196245294343392441490
1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 5050100150200250300350400450500
1, 3, 17, 5151102153204255306357408459510
1, 2, 4, 13, 26, 5252104156208260312364416468520
1, 5353106159212265318371424477530
1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 18, 27, 5454108162216270324378432486540
1, 5, 11, 5555110165220275330385440495550
1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 14, 28, 5656112168224280336392448504560
1, 3, 19, 5757114171228285342399456513570
1, 2, 29, 5858116174232290348406464522580
1, 5959118177236295354413472531590
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, 6060120180240300360420480540600
1, 6161122183244305366427488549610
1, 2, 31, 6262124186248310372434496558620
1, 3, 7, 9, 21, 6363126189252315378441504567630
1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 6464128192256320384448512576640
1, 5, 13, 6565130195260325390455520585650
1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 22, 33, 6666132198264330396462528594660
1, 6767134201268335402469536603670
1, 2, 4, 17, 34, 6868136204272340408476544612680
1, 3, 23, 6969138207276345414483552621690
1, 2, 5, 7, 10, 14, 35, 7070140210280350420490560630700
1, 7171142213284355426497568639710
1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 7272144216288360432504576648720
1, 7373146219292365438511584657730
1, 2, 37, 7474148222296370444518592666740
1, 3, 5, 15, 25, 7575150225300375450525600675750
1, 2, 4, 19, 38, 7676152228304380456532608684760
1, 7, 11, 7777154231308385462539616693770
1, 2, 3, 6, 13, 26, 39, 7878156234312390468546624702780
1, 7979158237316395474553632711790
1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 16, 20, 40, 8080160240320400480560640720800
1, 3, 9, 27, 8181162243324405486567648729810
1, 2, 41, 8282164246328410492574656738820
1, 8383166249332415498581664747830
1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 12, 14, 21, 28, 42, 8484168252336420504588672756840
1, 5, 17, 8585170255340425510595680765850
1, 2, 43, 8686172258344430516602688774860
1, 3, 29, 8787174261348435522609696783870
1, 2, 4, 8, 11, 22, 44, 8888176264352440528616704792880
1, 8989178267356445534623712801890
1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 15, 18, 30, 45, 9090180270360450540630720810900
1, 7, 13, 9191182273364455546637728819910
1, 2, 4, 23, 46, 9292184276368460552644736828920
1, 3, 31, 9393186279372465558651744837930
1, 2, 47, 9494188282376470564658752846940
1, 5, 19, 9595190285380475570665760855950
1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 24, 32, 48, 9696192288384480576672768864960
1, 9797194291388485582679776873970
1, 2, 7, 14, 49, 9898196294392490588686784882980
1, 3, 9, 11, 33, 9999198297396495594693792891990
1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 1001002003004005006007008009001000