Can small changes help save the environment?
Latest stats suggest we don’t have a clue about how to save energy and that we’re choosing the wrong ways to be green. But surely that old cliché – every little helps if we all do our bit – stands true?
So an American survey has found that people don’t have a clue about energy saving. When asked what was the most effective thing you could do to save energy, the most popular answer was turning out the lights.
Unfortunately, while this is good practice, it doesn’t actually save that much energy.
And it’s not just Americans who’ve been focusing on the little changes. A recent report from Mintel, found that while 74% of Brits turn off lights when they leave a room, much fewer had tried more effective ways of saving energy. These include turning down thermostats or making use of the eco settings on appliances.
But is it any wonder people are confused? We’re constantly bombarded with tips for reducing our carbon footprint, but actual savings vary massively. And the savings often depend on many factors, so it can be tricky to work out which will have the biggest impact.
Small changes = small savings?
Finding out that little changes don’t make a big difference can be disheartening. My flatmate has been turning off our TV and Virgin box at the plug, religiously, every night for the last year, convinced that she is helping cut our energy bills.
And yet when we tried an energy monitor out recently, we discovered this made no perceptible difference to our electricity usage. Needless to say, she wasn’t impressed.
But not all small changes are pointless – some do make a difference. It doesn’t take much effort to turn your thermostat down by one degree, but the Energy Saving Trust estimates that doing this could cut your heating bills by up to 10% and save you around £55 a year. That’s got to be good for the environment too.
What can you do to make a difference?
An energy monitor can help to identify possible savings in the home. If, like me, you spend half an hour running around the house turning things on and off, you’ll soon see which actions actually make a difference.
And one of the cleverest ways to save energy long-term, is to choose energy efficient appliances when we buy new ones. This won’t just save energy, but money too – running costs for fridge freezers vary from £13 to £92 a year!
But what about the actions that don’t seem to make a difference – like turning off lights? Well, even if these actions alone don’t save a massive amount of energy, if everyone does them, the cumulative effect does become significant.
So while it’s important to put these actions in perspective, I don’t think we should give up on them completely. Despite the energy monitor’s evidence, I admire my flatmate for keeping up her ritual…
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