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Lights, Carbon, Action!
Since working at Nurture Lakeland I’ve been involved in a range of projects, from designing car-free itineraries to celebrating the special nature of the area. But one project in particular has had a surprising impact on my life outside work...
A few years ago, I heard about farmers in Bangladesh that wouldn’t be able to grow crops as temperatures rise, ice caps melt, sea levels rise and salt water ruins the soil. My overwhelming feeling was “this isn’t fair!” Someone on the other side of the world shouldn’t be harmed by my actions. But what could I do? I felt helpless.
Now I am working on a project that has given me hope, inspiration and enthusiasm. The project aims to help tourism businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.
We start with an audit - which is much more fun than it sounds! I even tried it out in my own home. I ordered a free energy meter from my electricity provider and attached it to my meter.I went around my house turning electrical gadgets on and off. I was excited to see where I was using my energy, and looking forward to telling my partner to turn off the TV and stop watching football. Alas,the data did not support my suspicions.
To my surprise, big savings were to be made in lighting. In the living room, for example, there are two halogen spotlights over the bookcases and one low energy light bulb. I used to turn on all three lights (mostly because I didn’t know which switch operated which!).
The meter showed that turning on all three bulbs uses 81W (watts) of energy. Multiply that by 4 hours per day and 365 days of the year I was using nearly 120 kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity each year. Now I just turn on the energy saving light, and this uses only 16 kWh per year! This simple and free solution means I am using 7 times less energy every year.
Empowered by my newfound auditing confidence, I brought up the subject after dinner at my mums house. She was worried that her bills are always getting higher, and so I flourished the energy meter from my handbag (yes, I carry it around) and we set to work looking at her energy use.
Spotlights were the culprits again. “But I need to put on the lights when I walk in the door!” she exclaimed. She had the great idea of putting a lamp with an LED bulb by the door, which does the job and will save 200 kWh energy (and £32) each year.
Of course when we audit a business we are working on a much bigger scale, but the same principles apply. First we measure energy use, and then come up with creative ways to reduce it. Some business owners worry that they will need to change suppliers or fit renewables; but the first step is always to reduce energy use. After all, why waste resources – renewable or not.
Be a part of the solution by doing what you can, because lots of small steps lead to big changes that will help to protect the environment now and in the future.