Wednesday, 9 July 2008

energy update - and carbon panic!

The Beeb's online news states that a Brit's annual carbon emissions are 2.67 tonnes (US 5.6, China 1.1, India 0.3, Kenya 0.1). My latest electric stats showed 2.8 tonnes for the year - how could this be? How could I be using more than the average person just on electricity alone? How had I not sussed this before? Further research makes the difference between carbon emissions and carbon dioxide emissions apparent...

Average UK emissions of CO2 were between 9.1 and 9.5 tonnes annually in 2005 (see here and here, both quoting from same source), which translates to 2.6 tonnes carbon annually per person. I was relieved not to be worse than average, but not for long... Monbiot's article reminded me that the goal is reducing to about a tonne of CO2 equivalent pa. There's a long way to go.

My electric usage seems to have stabilised at 2.7 to 2.8 tonnes CO2 annually (to work out yours multiply your total kwh by 0.43 for kgCO2, then divide by 1000 for tonnes CO2. Or see Carbon Trust for more info). There's not much more switching off of unused or unnecessary appliances and lights, or other chipping away I can do. It's time for substantial changes... and investment.

A joiner has advised that all my single glaze windows can be converted to double glaze - they are well-made wooden windows, only 14 or so years old and in good condition. I'm just waiting for the quote now. The past two years I'd put up temporary double glazing film, like polythene taped to the frame, and they made such a difference to heat retention that double glazing is a must. Can't think why I've delayed so long (other than house selling intentions). The studio has had lined curtains as well as blinds for the past two years, and a thermal-backed blind arrived yesterday for the (double glazed) skylight. Before the winter I want to get lined curtains up in every room.

But still all this won't be enough. Especially if Peak Gas is on the horizon, never mind Peak Oil. Paul Mobbs, whose talk on Energy Beyond Oil I went to last week, suggested 58% of domestic energy consumption goes on space heating, with water heating at 24%, lighting and appliances at 12% and cooking at 6%. My house is all electric, heating is from storage heaters (two modern, one old) with a blow-heater in the bathroom and for back-up. As I work at home they seem practical, place is nice and warm for starting work in the morning. But I have two lovely open fireplaces (sitting room and kitchen), desolate without woodburner or (wood-fired) rayburn. Apparently woodburners make storage heaters less effective - as one starts cooling down at night, the other is gauging how much work to do to get and keep the place warm - and can't help but get it wrong. Can only be one or the other. But I'm going to investigate this further... if power rationing kicks in in a few years time it's good to have an alternative ready! And I like the idea of (slow) cooking or keeping the kettle warm on top. There's also an innate good feeling from seeing/hearing flames.

Solar hot water is another option to investigate. But the shower does its own heating (very practical this time of year when luke warm is all that's needed - a luxurious 15 minute shower uses less than a unit), and there are no radiators to fill. It would be good for boiling out wax of course, but other than washing and washing up there aren't many other needs for hot water. Cooking? Coffee?

Think I'll concentrate on curtain lining and double glazing this year, and (unless I've moved) come back to technological matters next year.


Helen said...

Hi Robin we have thought of all sorts of things to do to imprveour heat loss & carbon foot print - better fitting front doors and a wood burner is our choice but you are right-you can't solve all these problems at once.
With regard to getting a deep blue on your cotton (?) I suggest that you might like to think of a stale urine vat. Cotton dyes better at a high pH and a stale urine vat is usually about pH9. Last year I got quite deep blues on cotton using it. The traditional mathod of using fresh woad leaves that I describe in my book has a much lower pH about 8.5 which is better for wool than cotton. Hope it all works well for you . bw Helen

Robin Paris said...

I'd love to try a stale urine vat! Would save on chemicals and related carbon too. But I live in a small terraced house, and will have the place on the market soon - don't want to upset viewers never mind neighbours! Outdoor work space is a main reason for moving - just have to hope something better comes up.

Helen said...

Oh well that might be a problem although with a tightly fitting lid I have not noticed a smell particularly, except when using it! :) helen