Energy in the time of Corona
During lockdown our home has been transformed from a place of solitude for my husband to a busy hub for the three of us home-working and home-schooling. In practice, this has meant three constantly whirring computers, laptops and mobiles needing to be charged, the kettle being on constantly for cups of tea and coffee, and lots of food being required to be kept cool and then cooked and eaten! Sound familiar?
Overall electricity consumption in Great Britain actually declined during the early phases of the Covid-19 crisis, as large factories and businesses have closed, but energy use at home has gone up. And with more of us thinking about working from home more regularly, it’s worth thinking about the impact on your energy costs – and the costs to the environment – of using your home more.
The energy saving trust has some easy, quick wins on their website on how to save energy daily, as well as bigger home improvements that will save money and energy in the long-run. The ones I’ve found easiest to adopt are not keeping electronics on standby, only boiling the water needed and turning off lights. We’re also planning ahead and getting the boiler serviced – if we are spending more time at home in winter, heating bills can quickly add up.
Just before lockdown, we got a smart meter from our renewable energy company. It’s not compulsory to have one, and the newer smart meters overcome one of the big downsides of the early models, in that if you switched suppliers the kit would not work properly. There are pros and cons of smart meters – some people are concerned about data sharing, for example – but for me, what’s really helped keeping our energy use down is the visual display which shows you just how much you are using at any one time.
To give you an idea, this is the energy use in our house with all computers / TVs on, and the kettle filled up and boiling away. Electricity cost per hour – £0.86. Ouch.
Compare this to later on in the day with all the same IT kit on, but this time boiling just over 2 cups’ worth of hot water. Electricity cost per hour - £0.09. Much better!
“So what?” You might think. “X or Y or Z is causing so much damage to our planet what is the point of trying? Isn’t it all useless?”
In response, I would quote the Sustainable Overton slogan:
“What difference can I make?” said 7.53 billion people.
Nothing is going to “solve” climate change. It’s a multi-factored, complex problem with many difficult decisions and trade-offs to be made by governments, communities and individuals. But starting locally, and with actions that save you money is a good place to start.
By Claire, a volunteer from the Sustainable Overton team.