Monday, April 16, 2012

Climate Matters: N is for Notice

This post is for N in the A-Z blogging Challenge 2012. Link in the sidebar.

Notice what changes you can make in your immediate environment to become more sustainable - to become aware is empowering!
An old postcard found tucked into a book.
Poems by John Hepworth, sketches by Leunig.
That cheaper plasma TV that cost next to nothing to purchase could be slurping power in the most greedy way. It's easy to get sucked into a purchase because an item is cheap to buy - but often what is cheap at the register is more expensive to maintain day to day. They're energy sucking vampires. If you purchase a new TV, choose an LCD or LED screen, they're far more energy efficient.  As an aside, if you're using TV as a form of anaesthesia consider going for a walk either alone or with others, our bodies like to move and will thank you for it.

Was your refrigerator banished to the garage or basement when you upgraded to a swishy new one?  There it is keeping a few bottles of beer cold ... have you checked how much energy it's consuming? I know of one person who saved over $300 per year simply by getting rid of the beer frig and elderly TV! An alternative could have been to only turn them on as needed ie, don't leave them on standby. Many electric items on "idle" consume more power than you might expect! Standby, or idle is not the same as off. It's not unusual to reduce electricity consumption from 29 kwh to 9.32 kwh just by turning off those items - that represents money in your pocket!

Leaving white-goods on standby can seem petty and insignificant, individually it could be as little as $12 per year, pfft, that's nothing!! But when you add the different items around an average home, it all adds up - maybe it still seems a bit pointless, but when push comes to shove, who would you rather had that $160, you or your power company?

What else to do? Cover downlights with little special igloos to stop winter heated air escaping - many types of downlight create a tiny vortex sucking out your warmth and can double a heating bill in the blink of a wintery eye.

Insulate, insulate insulate - we have chopped up wool and it acts as a cosy blanket for the house.

Double glazing could be too expensive for many of us, but there are stick on alternatives that are affordable and good if you're renting. These products can cut down loss of heat, or prevent it getting in, in hot climates.

Heavy curtains over windows prevent sun getting in where the temperatures are hot, or heat escaping in cold climates. Pelmets over the top of windows stop heat sneaking out - if you're renting it's possible to make simple cardboard ones. It helps create a snug cocoon.

There's a neat little gizmo that you can buy to see how much power is being consumed by appliances when they're on idle. A remote kill switch or power board, again seems insignificant to cut power from standby, but add it to the other savings so YOU get to enjoy the benefits NOT the corporation

Turn off lights when you're not in the room - how simple can it be!

Door seals, don't have to be dorky, and most of us are aware of drafts around outside doors, but I'd never thought of using them indoors. If your toilet or bathroom has a window and vent to the outer world, it could be worthwhile to use a draft sausage and door seals there. It seems picky, but you could be heating the air outside rather than snuggling in it inside.

You can use an Incense stick to check for drafts - just light one then wander around and see how the smoke behaves - is it being sucked upwards towards light fittings or toward door surrounds?

When you buy a new light globe try the LED ones, they're more expensive to buy, but will last an amazing length of time, more than making up for the initial outlay. Some of them shed a cold light, the same as regular light globes, so check before you buy.

We used to hear the saying "a penny saved is a penny earned " meaning  don't throw your hard earned money into the abyss. Millions of Australians earn around $20 per hour, if you leave 5 items on standby (eg washing machine, toaster, computer, printer and bar frig) that equates to working 10 hours and you're not getting any personal benefit. You might be at work and notice that the first hour of each day for two weeks every year you're working to pay for items sitting at home on standby. Isn't that worth noticing?

Only run the dishwasher or washing machine as needed, ie when full! Unless you're running a hotel, only wash towels once a week, it's easy to dry them either outdoors in summer or on a clothes horse in winter. Clothes dryers can be used as a back up when all else fails, but line drying is the preferred option - the smell is invigorating and as a hay-fever sufferer I can honestly say I've never sneezed when wearing clothing straight off the line.

You might also become aware of the common unsustainable ingredients in foods. Palm oil is produced from plantations where natural vegetation has been decimated, biodiversity has been thrown out of balance, native peoples forcible removed from traditional lands and animals squashed into pockets of land that are unable to sustain them promoting spread of disease due to overcrowding.

As we learn to notice things such as where goods come from, the ethics of companies, and think about sustainable lifestyles, we find we have choices. Rather than reacting through habit, when we notice we realise we have the power to choose in accordance with our values (see V) - it can help make decisions simple - it's empowering.

Last year for N, I wrote about Nurses and other Nice people for my theme of workplace bullying. Here. and Nincompoops and Napalm here.


Anonymous said...

We're practicing being more aware of our habits and making more responsible decisions and looking to make our dollars stretch more while helping the environment. Its a conscious effort and all these little efforts can add up big over time.

Gina Gao said...

This is a pretty interesting post. I really like your style of writing. Great job.

Gwen said...

Great advice!

Manzanita said...

Sue, Good post. You've presented a lot to think about. I've been trying to stretch my dollar and never considered the studio fridge that holds a bag of carrots. :) We look at the same things every day but don't really see them.

Judy said...

This is a great post - - notice. There are so many little ways we can save money and be more environmentally responsible if we only are aware. Thanks!

Kathy said...

What a great 'N' post, lots of great energy saving ideas. Yes, I do 'notice' how much we use and how much we save by powering off rather than powering down.
Visiting from the A T Z Challenge and am a new follower.
Kathy at Oak Lawn Images

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. great thoughts here - we can always turn the heating down .. and leaving things on unnecessarily is also a no no .. eg computers - I always turn mine off and unplug it ..

I'm as aware as I can be at the moment .. and don't buy anything new unless I absolutely have to ... we have to upgrade our tvs - as digital is coming via the powers that be - so have to do some upgrading there ..

Lots of savings can be found - if we're inventive .. cheers Hilary

sue said...

Stephen, awareness is great.It's a case of every little thing adding together to create positive change.

Gina and Gwen thankyou.

Manzanita, those sneaky fridges are a real drain on energy. We've made savings so easily just by turning a few appliances off when we don't need them. I hope it works for you too.

Judy, Noticing what's around us and really attending doesn't seem to come easily!

Kathy, thankyou! That would have been a good P post ... Power off, not power down!

Hilary, ah yes, it can be a pest when we're forced into a new purchase simply to remain connected. It's happened here too with the TVs.

and another good letter : I for Inventive! I can feel my brain churning away with next year in mind!

a.eye said...

Hadn't known that about the palm oil producing places. I'll have to look more into that.