My niece is in Guiana doing a gap year working for an educational charity.
They only have electricity on occassion and so it is much more appreciated when it is connected. There is a rush to charge mobile phones, laptops and e-readers (well, the western visitors rush anyway!)
In the western world we have effectively 100% reliability in electricity supplies.
We do have some blackouts but they are rare enough that most of us have a freezer full of food that relies on electricity to avoid expensive and smelly mess. Certainly it takes severe weather to make a real impact and then generally only in remote areas where miles of cables can be affected and repairs are difficult.
So how much do we pay for that – and how much would you pay in future?
There is much debate about the cost of renewal of our electrical infrastructure; the grid, networks and new generating stations. We have a system which integrates every solar PV installation, local wind turbine and hydro-electric generator and they all help by delivering power at point of use and without burning fuel. But suppose you were asked to pay a cheaper tariff to be cut off for a few hours on a few evenings in winter?
It could be a struggle in a poorly insulated house with a combi boiler – no heating, no hot water. But, in a well insulated house with a wood burning stove you would still have heating. If you have a hot water tank in an airing cupboard you would still have hot water, and with a couple of rechargeable LED lamps you could still read that book you keep meaning to read instead of watching telly instead.
Would it be so bad after all if you could plan ahead? You’d are still in a better situation than the population of Guiana.
The all new ‘turn-it-down’ energy diet plan.
Here is a potentially controversial way to save on energy bills (for those who are fit and able, anyway):
A sugar-rich, fatty-food diet, lack of exercise and oh so cosy houses have turned us into an obese nation. So, here’s my all new ‘turn-it-down’ diet plan which actually saves you money too!
Turn your central heating thermostat down at least two (2) degrees. It should be set at no more than 21 in the ‘sitting room’ or 18 in the hall. You can try it lower, once upon a time 16 C in the living room was considered comfortable (people used to wear jumpers when central heating was very rare pre-1960s).
You’ll feel a little chilly if you are sitting down doing nothing. So get up and walk around, drag that exercise bike out of the garage or have an impromptu disco party with the girls.
Now you feel warm! Put a jumper on and you can sit down quite comfortably for some time now. The boiler hasn’t come on so you have not spent anything on gas and you have burned off a few calories too!
As a nation we should all be thinking about how to conserve energy for our future instead of ignoring all the warning signals and cosying up to the television in the Winter. Let’s get moving, pack on an extra layer and we’ll all be healthier, wealthier and wiser!
What are your thoughts about saving energy in the Winter? We’d love to hear them.