Back at the end of 2009 I signed a pledge to reduce my carbon footprint by 10%, called 10:10, here’s my results.
Well, it was close… depending on how you calculate it… although in another sense I totally failed.
First of all it’s worth saying I’ve always tried to have a low Carbon Footprint so I was starting from a fairly low base – well I’d like to think so, must of my electrical hardware has a high energy rating and they are switched off when not in use. However, one area I thought I’d be able to make some progress on was lighting. Low-energy bulbs should be an easy way to cut back so I replaced all but two bulbs in my house with these.
It was not quite as simple as a “replaced” makes it sound. I had to find the right size (which living in a old country house was difficult) and replace them with similar light outputs. I managed to find most good replacements (Tesco was the star here), and even some low-energy spot lights for the Kitchen. Unfortunately these spotlights proved to be a poor substitution, with very slow warm up times causing low illumination. I would have swapped them back if they hadn’t been so high wattages (150 watts on each of 4 bulbs), so instead I left them in. Now, a year later, they still haven’t improved but I have become accustomed to them so it’s worth hanging on for a bit.
I also got hold of the Wattson Energy Meter which allows you to keep an eye on exactly how much electricity is being used at that moment. A very clever but useful device, in an instant I could tell if anything had been left on by accident, and seeing the cost of electricity immediately in front of you really encourages you to use it less. The one other thing I did was to install a couple of timers for the devices I’d like to be on when I’m usually at home and off at other times, my wireless router was ideal for this.
So the electrical results:
|Date||Usage||Days||Units||Units per day|
|15 November 2007||0|
|10 January 2009||2502||422||2502||5.93|
|07 December 2009||4389||331||1887||5.7|
|15 December 2010||6321||373||1932||5.18|
These are taken from my electricity bill, which as you can see isn’t updated very frequently, the units per day column was an attempt to compare years fairly. If we take last years numbers we have a reduction of 9.1%. Close but no cigar – although if I was to take an average of the last two years it does get more than 10%… cheating?
I use gas (and by that I mean “Natural Gas”) for heating and hot water. I didn’t make any improvements to my house to conserve gas, mostly because I only rent. It’s an incredibly draughty house without insulation or double glazing so uses a lot of fuel to heat up. I do however switch on “Economy Mode” on the heater – this stops hot water being instantly available in the taps. So what was the results for Gas?
|Date||Usage||Days||Units||Units per day|
|7 December 2007||8452|
|9 December 2008||9018||368||566||1.54|
|7 December 2009||9465||363||447||1.23|
|15 December 2010||9966||373||501||1.34|
Yep, that’s right I had a 9.2% INCREASE in gas usage. So how can that be? Well, you know why we are trying to cut the amount we use? Well, climate change has been rearing it’s angry little head lately. 2009 was one of the hottest years on record but the following year, 2010, was one of the coldest on record. This is interesting to note, as 2010 was colder than 2008 but I managed to use much less gas… now I could take that year instead… but again, is that cheating?
Well this one’s even worse. My international travel remained the same, just one return flight, but what really caused a problem was work. In November 2009 I left my previous job and started a new one in January 2010. My previous job was about 1.5 miles down the road, and I frequently cycled into work, my new job is much further away so I’ve resorted to driving the car in. I haven’t got numbers for this but look at it this way – lets assume I drove into work every day at my previous job instead of cycled:
|Return distance, miles||Work week (5 days), miles||Yearly (48 weeks), miles||Increase, %|
That’s (a frightening) 1000 per cent increase in petrol usage – how the heck am I paying for that. There’s no way to cheat those values I’m afraid. But, I could have reduced this impact by using public transport or by car sharing and a few other ways besides.
I didn’t make my 10% target but the real idea of 10:10 was always to raise awareness of climate change and the reductions we can all make. I was impressed by my electricity reduction even if it wasn’t 10%, simply changing my light bulbs over to energy saving ones took a large chuck of my power usage away – a simple change anyone could do.
Now to this year. It’s 2011 now, and I’ve decided to specifically target my travel for reduction, mainly by using my bike to cycle at least some of the way to work. I’ll also try to convince my landlord that it would be a good investment to install insulation, but I’m not very hopeful of that, might be easier to move house.
Maybe I’ll have an update in a years time.