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[Sticky] Looking back at the past 30 years, what has changed YOUR energy consumption behaviour the most?
- Include both positive and negative changes
- Please specify the year and the country
Moving to Italy from the US in 2007. No dryers here!
Joining environmental NGO. Ukraine 2010
Taking part in ecological movement and realizing all the negative changes on environment that we are making every day.
The Green Backyard is a community growing project in Peterborough, UK, for which I have been a volunteer since 2014 and before that I was a regular visitor and occasional helper since 2011. Working with, meeting and listening to people there and seeing what has been achieved influenced and encouraged me to reflect upon and change my own consumption behaviour.
Other local organisations - 'Handmade in Peterborough', the 'Peterborough Eco-Faith Network', 'Peterborough in Transition' - as well as 'Carbon Conversations' in Peterborough - all these too have facilitated my reflections on my patterns of consumption and encouraged positive changes.
For me, it seems, grassroots local organisations have been the key to change. Using solar panel technology enables me to put my desire for change into action, but it is the face to face discussions with fellow human beings in a peaceful, creative environment that has most influenced me to want to make changes.
There were several important changes in energy consumption during last 30 years
1) The most important mental change happened after knowing more about climate change and the human factor in it. It's became interesting to know how much energy do I consume and where it actually goes, do I really need it, what can I do to reduce my impact. It was 2010.
2) Buying a house (2015)
2a) Since that time we had our own energy meter (before we shared a flat with neighbors and had one power meter for 3 owners). I bought two more conventional power meters that are inserted into a conventional socket and performed an energy audit. More to that, with a modern power meter we started to use 2-zone tariff for electricity.
This is how I started to turn off IPC for my computer, because it consumed about 15W even when not used, 24*7. This is how I almost stopped to use my PC and switched to a laptop. I started to put laptop to a sleep instead of turning it off. The sleep consumption is negligible, but it economizes my time turning laptop on.
We also use washing machine at night.
2b) Year 2016. Having an own house opened opportunity to make own investment to a clean energy. So I bought solar panels, inverter and plugged them to electric grid. This all became possible due to in-grid tariff that works in Ukraine for few years. So now I have 8.9 kW of solar panels installed power, producing about 9000 kWh yearly
3) In 2018 our modern gas-boiler was disconnected by local gas-provider due to some legal issues. And it was almost impossible to turn it back on legally. So we were forced to switch to electric heating and hot water. This increased electricity consumption a lot (but reduced gas consumption). At the moment we have cheap electricity (about 0.055 €/kWh) and a governmental subsidy for houses with electric heating that allows to consume electricity for heating at 0.03 €/kWh).
4) in 2018 I bought my first car - it's electric car, Nissan Leaf. It increased energy consumption approx for 100-150 kWh monthly. It's charged at night when electricity is cheap and the grid has lack of consumption.
UK Government incentives encouraged me to purchase solar panels for my roof in early 2015, and now I try to time things like cooking, mowing the lawn and using the garden shredder so as to use my own electricity.
UK government incentives encouraged me to get cavity wall insulation in around 2012 and to improve my loft insulation, but I'm not sure how much effect this had on my own energy consumption as many other factors changed around the same time.
"Big switch" type initiatives were groups of consumers collectively switch energy supplier made it easy to switch to power companies offering greener energy without having to pay too much of a premium. Subsequently I have also become an investor in such a company.
Becoming a volunteer at The Green Backyard in 2011, and joining a local Transition initiative made me much more conscientious about trying to live in a sustainable way, although I was already trying to do better, for example by choosing never to fly since 2007. In 2015 I took part in some "Carbon Conversations" sessions. These made me more aware of things like the high carbon footprint of meat and dairy production. I was already a vegetarian, but I am trying to cook and eat more vegan meals now.
It is becoming harder to know how much energy I am consuming indirectly. For example what is my share of the energy demand from the Internet? Modern life makes it more and more difficult to do things without using the Internet. As I get older I am finding it less comfortable to use a laptop or a mobile phone to write emails or documents, so I am doing more work on a computer with a big display. Everything is becoming more and more automated, so it is harder and harder to do things without using electronic devices. That makes it hard to feel in control of your energy choices.
Quite simply my awareness of just how much energy we use, how wasteful we can be and how this has impacted through climate change, damage to the ozone layer and the destruction of natural habitats. There has been a lot of house building round us over the last couple of years and the impact of this is noticeable in that the demand for energy alone is considerably higher, this concerns me greatly and has encouraged me to do what I can to reduce our households carbon footprint.
Before I was a house owner I never really considered how much energy I used and just how costly it could be, owning your own home focuses the mind on how much of your salary household bills take up. I have also become much more socially conscious through world Govts attempts to deal with climate change and the use of fossil fuels and through environmentalists and naturalists such as Sir David Attenborough who has done much to tell the world how we are harming our natural resources through irresponsible behaviour.
In 2010 we had solar panels installed, it was one of the best things we have ever done, we receive the maximum tax free feed in tariff and the return it gives us is much better than any savings account by a long way and we fed back any energy that we do not use into the national grid. We actively use appliances during daylight hours rather than at night, including charge our phones and iPads. We are often missing for chunks of time in the summer and having solar panels has allowed us to benefit financially when we are not there which has been a great incentive. We also have solar pads in the shed and garage which although only provide a small amount of electricity it all helps. We also have energy efficient lighting throughout the house which makes a big difference in cost especially for security and outside lighting which is used a lot in the winter months. We had a smart meter installed approx 18 months ago which is useful to a point in that it gives you your daily figure and comparative figures for previous day, week etc, which is interesting and inspired us to improve and further reduce where we can, however it is not good for identifying power usage for individual appliances which is disappointing.
The high pollution and global warming cost to the environment of coal and gas as energy sources. The improvements in wind and solar power sources. 30 years ago I knew one of the leading scientists in wind turbine development at Harwell Research Laboratories and at the time he had grave doubts that wind power would ever be successful, so I now appreciate it all the more. The realisation that we could have an air-source heat pump at home as a source of all our heat in the form of tried and tested technology: an air-conditioner in reverse.