Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Switch on to Saving Energy

I’ve been meaning to write a post on energy since I got my letter from my energy supplier back in October telling me why they are having to put up their prices. No doubt you have had one of these too. Don’t worry if you don’t understand it - even Stephen Hawking has been unable to decode his electricity bill, apparently.

Basic economics tells us that when prices rise, demand falls but this somehow doesn’t seem to happen with energy. Here’s why – we Brits are just not switched on to energy saving. But it really is very simple. Some years ago I cut both my gas and electricty consumption by 33% just with a few simple measures, like draught proofing the loft hatch. OK, I cheated, I also replaced some kitchen appliances with energy efficient models and finished off the double glazing. There are also people like Transition Walthamstow who run Draught Busting Workshops if you feel the need for some tuition before you start.

the irony is we need to turn this picture blue

So, why are energy prices going up? Well, it’s partly due to increasing demand worldwide but here in the UK it’s also because the government’s energy strategy is a complete mess and has been for many years going back as far as Nigel Lawson’s reign as Chancellor. There have only been half hearted attempts to stimulate the renewable market and the so-called Green Deal has been a disaster.

Why is this? Well, it’s all to do with powerful vested interests and the “lobby” system. Greenpeace have been busy lately exposing the extent and how it works within government circles. See Contaminated, #Energygate and Toxic Plot.

It really is a special type of stupid to use gas to generate electricity when there are so many other options and we could reserve gas supplies for heating. And with proper insulation the supplies would last even longer and the lives of many frail and elderly people saved each winter. As Molly points out here, illnesses caused by cold homes cost the NHS £1.36bn a year and this goes onto the PLUS sheet of GDP, would you believe? As does this smaller sum of £1667 spent locally for Redbridge’s Cold Weather Centre for the homeless.

And if for one moment you are thinking that Nuclear could be the solution, then see this from DocRichard. “worse than the PFI fiasco or the debacle of the West Coast Main Line” doesn’t cut it really. We are dealing here with politician’s egos and their lust for vanity projects - it will happen and it will be a disaster.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. There are places where sustainable energy solutions are taken seriously, like in British Columbia in Canada. And closer to home in Islington where they have even managed to sign up a football club named after a tube station, although I am told it was a painfully slow process to get them to do anything, a bit like their football really! These people are coming to talk to the Redbridge Cleaner Greener Scrutiny Working Group in a couple of weeks time and I will be taking notes.

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