Today over lunch I happened to watch a couple of documentaries by Sir David Attenborough on climate change, what is causing it and how we can help to stop it.  What was presented was quite disturbing, especially given how simple some of the remedies are.  I was stunned to hear that apparently up to 10% of the average home’s electricity bill goes to electrical items on standby.  That’s horrific.  And of course turning the central heating down by 1 degree saves money and equates to about a ton of carbon that doesn’t go into the atmosphere as a result.

In fact this is an issue that I have been pondering a lot this last week, especially since discovering just how much power a kettle uses.  I forget what prompted it, but I had a look at our electricity meter and was intrigued by how much power we were using.  With just a couple of lights on, my computer, whatever appliances needed to be on all the time (fridge, freezer, etc), the little wheel turned fairly slowly – switching the kettle on instantly and visibly increased the speed of the wheel, so much so that I felt guilty for the amount of tea I drink!

Having watching that documentary, I have no unplugged our hifi system at the wall (it was last used to play a CD on Valentine’s Day), unplugged and switched off the external speakers we’ve been using with the television, unplugged and switched off my computer speakers (my Mac has a built-in speaker that will suffice for normal day to day sounds and music), and ensured that the heating thermostat is down at 18 degrees.

I would like to install some nice energy saving bulbs, but we have a problem there in that most of the light fittings in the house have dimmer switches on them, and as far as I know energy saving bulbs don’t like those much.  So now I’m considering getting separate lighting for our lounge and dining room area.  Instead of the three candle bulbs above my desk I could easily invest in a small desk lamp which would provide enough light for me to work into the night.  Similarly in the lounge where the light fitting is three candle bulbs I could invest in a small table lamp or uplighter, which would provide enough light to watch TV by and still see to eat dinner.

And of course the car is another source of carbon emissions, and that’s something else I’m keen to address.  One line of thinking goes that to make a car efficient you do pretty much the same as to make it more powerful.  The less power from the engine is wasted, the better the engine will perform.  I have already done some work there in replacing the exhaust system and air filter, but getting the engine properly tuned should also help performance and efficiency.  The biggest hurdle there will be self-control; the more power is available, the more tempting it will be to use it…

So there we go.  I may not be in a position to kit the house out with solar panels and wind turbines, but I can significantly reduce the amount of waste by just being sensible.  It shouldn’t take too much effort either, but I’m sure my conscience will feel better for it!

Categories: Miscellaneous


Phill · 1 April 2007 at 4:45 pm

I’ve been switching off my computer at the wall when it’s not been in use for a while now, same with the hi-fi / TV etc.

It is pretty shocking how wasteful we all are of electricity, if we all do things like what you’ve been suggesting I’m sure it would add up to a huge positive impact!

Dad · 2 April 2007 at 11:39 am

Sound advice, Matthew. I might just do something similar at home. One particular source of wasted energy is a nasty habit in our home where the kettle gets boiled, forgotten and re-boiled several times before a pot of tea ever gets made!

I could easily install more energy saving bulbs as well (currently just 2).

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