Thermal vests, but no hair shirts

May 26th, 2013 by Rae Leave a reply »

HandbookCover200px-1Twelve months on from starting our Carbon Conversations.

The most useful part of the six session course was training myself into the habit of measuring carbon output. It became a little obsession to improve on my personal best by being clever rather than causing ourselves any hardship. Over the last few weeks I set up a first annual review looking at four areas ; transport, water, electricity and gas usage.

Personal circumstances mean that I am not travelling much, so using a shared car less than 5000 miles p.a. is quite achievable, using local public transport on occasions.

On examining our water usage since we had a meter installed five years preceding Carbon Conversations I was alarmed to notice that each year our consumption increased. (I must take responsibility for this myself having stopped showering at the Leisure Centre), but despite having our bath exchanged for a shower I still over indulged. In the last three months I have been conscientious in maintaining a more fastidious regime in my use of water in a range of habits. As I didn’t take weekly or monthly measurements last year I am depending on the bills to show a difference.

Reducing electricity output has required the least adjustment. Prior to Carbon Conversations our daily consumption averaged 2.8 kg per day. By simple actions such as turning off the cooker at the socket when not using the oven, not having appliances upstairs on standby eg phone and radio during the day (needing to use adapters can be inconvenient) and restricting the use of the freezer to periods of glut or essential storage we were able to reduce our daily output to 1.34 kg per day. A couple of weeks ago I began measuring again and found that we had slipped up slightly, which I believe is due to running an almost empty freezer once more, it shall be switched off by the end of this week. We have also replaced most of our lighting with LED bulbs and once the freezer is off we shall notice if that has made a significant improvement.

The most challenging area was our gas usage during this long, cold, overcast winter. Despite having a well insulated house and a log fire sealed with glass doors our gas bill from February to May 2013 rose from 25 kwh per day (2012) to 40 kwh!! Not only has this been disappointing, our bills will rise from £34 per month to £46!!

On reflection. It has been greatly to our benefit that I went along to CC last summer being the least careful consumer in our household. Having had the house thermal- imaged was encouraging, but we were surprised how much heat even a low energy light bulb emits. Changing over to LED bulbs is an improvement for lighting from both low energy bulbs and halogen both in light quality and in the extravagance of halogen. We still need to resolve what to do about reading lamps as some require bulbs with a transformer and some aren’t suited to LED. Within a couple of weeks we shall have thermostatic control valves on our radiators and plan to use them in the coming winters to reduce our gas usage and expenditure.


1 comment

  1. Brigitte says:

    If anyone is interested in attending the course please contact us. I did the course the year before Rae and although I thought I was doing all I could there was a lot I started to do after completing the sessions.

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