Monday, September 28, 2009

Getting Colder

We have all noticed the nights drawing in and getting cooler. It will be soon time to be tempted to put the central heating back on. However do you really know how much it takes to keep you warm? If you do not know how much energy you are using how can you judge whether you are making a saving. The Campaign 10:10 is asking everyone to reduce their consumption by 10% by 2010.

Now is a good time to start trying to find out how much you energy you are using. There are two key things you need to do. Read your electric meter and then read your gas meter. The electric meter reads in kilowatt-hours but the gas one probably reads in cubic feet or cubic meters. This means that the two readings are not comparable in energy terms. To convert cubic feet of gas to kilowatt-hours multiply by 31.3 or if it is in cubic feet multiply by 11.12 if it is in cubic feet.

I suggest you then take readings about every fortnight. To see how you are progressing it is easiest to convert the readings to KWH per day. You will find, as the winter gets colder the figure gets higher and then starts reducing in the spring. If you keep this up then next year you may be able to see whether you have made a reduction. Perhaps you can find a way of drawing a graph of your usage. At the Ecocentre we keep records of our electricity, solar panel, and heat pump performance. You can see them here.

If you can borrow an energy meter from somebody then you can compare electricity use day by day or even minute by minute. They display the energy you are using and it changes as appliances go off and on. Some energy companies give them away as special offers or they can also be bought.

Next time I will make some suggestions for actions that can help save home energy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Food for Thought

I have just been reading that Michelle Obama is concerned that she cannot get local food around the White House. Having lived on takeaways whilst campaigning she is keen to have good local food introduced into their kitchens. Perhaps the next thing is a Farmers Market in the White House grounds.
However around Northfield there is not quite the same problem as Tom Baker has found out. He lives in Cotteridge and is compiling a directory of locally produced food which is well worth a look at. Tom goes one better and instead of buying bread he bakes his own in an earth oven he has built for himself in the back garden. He is also very keen on cooking and is hoping to set up cookery classes to help ween people away from packaged precooked food.
Buying local and cutting down on packaging is one of the things we need to do to cut down on our carbon footprint and make us more self sufficient.