Kendra Turnbull from the Lochaber Environmental Group
discusses practical ways in which you can make a difference.The connection between turning your kettle on, resource depletion and climate change may not be obvious to all, but an average Highland home uses nearly 7000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year, which, if generated from the digging up and burning of coal, releases 4.1 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere and takes 3.43 tonnes of coal. CO2 is the main contributor to the UKs man-made greenhouse gas emissions, and once in the air it stays there for 50-200 years. Coal takes thousands to millions of years to form but is burnt in a matter of minutes.
But I am not wasteful with my electricity use so can’t really do much about that I hear you cry! Well our results would say different…..
Using OWL electricity monitors to analyse household electricity use Lochaber Environmental Group (LEG) have found that many households have a base rate of around 0.2kWh (a base rate is the amount of electricity drawn when the house is resting- often measured by an hour in the middle of the night). Over a year this seemingly small amount adds up to 1752kWh costing the user about £250. However, LEG have discovered that many houses can get this rate down to 0.05kWh by simply switching off unnecessary items. On average this would save about 19% on bills and lower emissions by 780kg CO2 e per household. Highland wide that would be 67,000 tonnes less of coal needing to be burnt- which is 80,500m3 less of coal every year. Can you visualise that amount of space? It is around 790 double decker buses, or 161,000 washing machines!
So changing habits in small ways really can have a much bigger impact on resources than you might think.
Why not take the challenge- wander around your home and see how many items are left on or how many standby/LED lights you can find. Turn off plug sockets at the wall, disconnect phone chargers and laptops, do without the electronic clocks on microwaves and ovens, leave the Wi-Fi off when you are out, switch your games station completely off and put set-top boxes into ECO mode. You might be surprised at the difference you can make. Installing an electric monitor can help you see what is going on in real time, helping you get that base rate as low as possible. Perhaps you have a local charity or social enterprise, such as Lochaber Environmental Group, who can lend you one for free and offer some helpful advice. Searching via the HEN directory
under energy might be a good place to start.