Friday, 29 October 2010

Electricity E-LEC-TRI-CITY

Who remembers School House Rock and the song Electricity? Despite recommendations in the song to scrape across a carpet then sneak up on your very best friend and zap him on the ear--I do not recommend making that form of electricity as it really cheeses people off. He will no longer be your very best friend if you keep shocking him on purpose.

What cheeses me off (can a vegan be cheesed off? I supposed if it is cheezed off with a z  then it is acceptable to the vegan police) as I was saying before I went chasing some random tangent: What really cheeses me off is electricity wastage. This is where many kilo watt hours (kWh) are spent and much CO2 farted out into the atmosphere. Each kilo watt on your bill represents about 600g of CO2 emissions from a power station. So if your bill says you have used 1000 kW in three months that is equal to 600 kg of CO2--the same CO2 as driving the family car 2,500 miles.

 Do you ever think about who supplies your electricity? Getting your electricity from the Grid--standard fossil fuel power company-- is incredibly wasteful. Grid electricity costs more financially and environmentally because of the poor efficiency (wastage) of converting fossil fuels in powder stations to power you can use. It takes enormous heat and energy to do so and they let off large amounts of heat and CO2 just doing the conversion for you to then waste at home. And dont even get me started about my feelings on Nuclear Energy--I might start quoting Sting lyrics from the 1980s at you and no one wants that. Check and see if your regular supplier has a Green Tariff where they use renewable sources to make your electricity.  Ours did but used a combination of renewable and fossil fuel so we switched to a company called GOOD ENERGY which is 100% renewable. Think about it--fossil fuels are being depleted --in our lifetimes there will be no more so you might as well  start using renewable energy now. GOOD ENERGY uses solar, wind and water to power up our electrics and that makes us very happy. Switching to the Green Tariff can cut the average households annual carbon footprint by 2 tonnes. It may cost about 10% more than what you pay for fossil fuels--but isnt the earth worth it?

So now that Ive done the decent thing and switched suppliers what can I do to stop wasting energy in my home I hear you cry--I said I hear you cry. Look if you dont take a  more active part then this next bit isnt going to work.

1. Put in low energy light bulbs. Theyre not as crap as they used to be. Seriously when they first came out it was like sitting in the dark. Times and technology have changed. Get one that is a high wattage--ours are 23 watt (equal to 103 watt) and look for one with a high Lumen number--this is brightness. If you hate yellowish light then look for one with a high Kelvin number which is whiteness of light. They are a good value these days as well. They used to cost like £5 a bulb (but they last for donkeys years) but we spotted some recently for £1 each which makes the value even better. To put it into perspective: A 100 watt light bulb left on for 10 hours uses 1kW of energy (600 g of CO2) whilst a 20 watt bulb (equal to 100w) left on for 10 hours = 0.2 kW of energy. I cant do the math but even a math defective like me can see that number is considerably smaller.

2. Computers First off dont be scared --Im not going to tell you to get rid of yours. Im not getting rid of mine--how else would I write this interesting and informative blog? We have, however, chosen not to have the internet at home. This was a huge waste of our money and time because we left the computer on all day on the off chance we might to look something up or just fart around and look at stuff we didnt care about like cats playing the piano on YouTube or our favourite 80s videos. So we use ours for typing and then I paste it all onto my memory stick and then add it to my blog from work. Let me tell you a few computer facts:
Ÿ         A laptop uses 1/6 the energy of a desktop.
Ÿ         Turn it off if you are going to be away for more than an hour. 1 computer left on all day = 1500 lbs of CO2 a year. It would take between 100 and 500 trees to absorb the amount of CO2 released into the air. Jinkies! This figure has me really thinking .My school has about 20 desktops in the computer suite that are often left on all day. I know it is a pain and a time suck to have to boot up from scratch every time a new class comes in, but think of what we are wasting. If you know another class is following your lesson then by all means then leave them on, but if no one else is booked then full shut down please. I plan to introduce these statistics at our next eco council meeting (Im one of the sponsors) and we can train the eco reps to check the computers after a lesson.
Ÿ         Screensavers may be cute but they are also a waste of energy. As I said--shut down if youre not using it. Dont just leave it on in the off chance you might want to find some lyrics to song you heard in 1976.
Ÿ         If you leave your computer and printer (plus fax and scanner and other God knows what other computer related gadgets you have) plugged in and on all the time just in case you could be spending about £100 a year just on the off chance you want to use them. Have I made myself clear here yet? Turn it off when not in use. Dont turn it on if you are not using that bit. I am getting tired of saying this so Ill go onto the next electricity suck.

 3. Television another time wasting (as well as money wasting) thing we have chosen to not have. But how can you live without telly I hear you gasp? Easily when you think that the TV Licence to get the basic 5 channels costs £140ish a year. And to watch what--Big Brother crap reality show? Strictly Come Dancing with the Stars nonsense? The Boy with a Arse where his Face should be? (channel 5 only) I rest my case. Dr Who and QI are the only thing worth it--and thats not worth £140 a year. Plus we can watch them at work on BBC- iplayer for free.  But I digress.
For those who do have telly the mantra is (repeat it with me) Dont leave your telly on standby. If you cant be arsed to get up and turn it off at the set and instead just use the remote which leaves the telly on standby with a little red light just waiting for you to decide if you want to watch something you will waste tonnes of money and CO2 and you deserve everything you get. Turn it off properly--making sure no current is running when not in use--we unplug our DVD player/computer monitor (known as the Big Lizard--monitor--lizard--geddit??? never mind) after use. So should you.  This standby warning goes for all you have plugged in. If the current is flowing so is the CO2 and money from your bank account.

4. Recharging your stuff My first question is do you really NEED that mobile phone/blackberry/I-pod or other portable energy suck gadget? The answer for us is no. We dont need to be connected to technology 24/7. We like to talk. And read. And not have our brains turned to mush by radiation from cellular phones--but thats for another time. If you do think you HAVE to have all that stuff then charge only when you need. Dont keep your charger plugged in when nothings charging. Thats like the light being on and nobody home.

These have been the highlights of the Eco Workshop I went to. I was pleased to see we were doing so much--but it is still not enough.  We ALL need to reduce our CO2 or this planet is headed for oblivion (to quote Neil the hippy from The Young Ones)

The Earth is our mother. You wouldnt treat your mother this badly would you? Dont answer that. But seriously --Be the change you want to see in the world. Make it happen.

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