Almost every day we read or hear of news about our environment. Often the news is negative – like that about the fatberg found a few weeks ago in the Sidmouth sewers – caused by fat and cooking oil being poured down kitchen sinks and non-flushable products flushed down loos.
More rarely is the news positive. One example of good news I recently saw is that renewable energy from solar panels and wind turbines supplied a record 33% share of total UK electricity production last year. According to the environmental analysis website Carbon Brief, electricity generation in the UK has fallen since 2005, with generation per person now back down to the level of 1984. EU product standards on light bulbs, fridges, vacuum cleaners and other appliances have apparently played an important part in this. In fact, making products more efficient has so far been more effective in cutting our CO2 emissions than renewables have in replacing fossil fuels.
The report goes on to say that installing a single low-energy LED bulb may make a trivial contribution to cutting the carbon emissions which are overheating our planet, but if millions do so their efforts will make a small but significant dent in the UK’s energy demand. And changing from a B or C-rated fridge to an A++ rated fridge can halve the energy use so if this is done on a large scale the differences will similarly be significant. This doesn’t just apply to households. Firms including supermarkets have improved their lighting and refrigeration efficiency. And for both, using less energy has often offset the rise in energy prices, so despite prices having gone up, some bills have gone down.
Those who advocate efficiency improvements say that applying them to everything from planes and cars to computer displays and freezers offers the best-value carbon reductions without having to confront people with restrictions on their lifestyle choices. At Glenorchy we’ve reduced our energy consumption by installing low energy light bulbs, insulation and double glazing where we can – actions which are consistent with the Eco Church initiatives. We’re also committed to minimising our use of water (we are on a meter), printer paper and lighting.
And in particular we’re doing our bit to reduce carbon emissions – and our energy costs – by installing solar panels which should hopefully be in place on our church roof shortly after you read this. Individually we can all do our bit to help the environment by doing the same type of things…… as well as making sure we don’t contribute to any potential Exmouth Fatberg!