Marks out of Ten

I see the 10:10 campaign has been marking its own special day (10/10) with pullout supplements in the Guardian and everything, although I can’t find any mention of it on their website. There’s still no way of tracking your emissions or recording your savings on their website either so, somewhat belatedly, I’ve decided to bore you all (so what’s new) with how we’ve got on so far. This will be an even duller post than usual, so unless energy saving’s your thang, don’t bother reading on…

…seriously, there won’t even be any feeble jokes, let alone any good ones.


Right, so if there’s anyone still reading, here’s the scoop. I was a bit sceptical about the whole thing, as you may recall, partly because of the lack of any real accountability, and partly because I couldn’t really see how we could make the savings. We’re in rented accommodation so a lot of the changes that would make a real difference (new boiler, double glazing, wood-burning stove) are in the hands of our landlord. I already cycle as much as I can but in a very rural area it’s hard not to use the car as your primary means of transport (anyone who thinks it’s green to live in the country hasn’t seen a rural bus timetable recently). I also thought that we were probably being pretty frugal (doesn’t everyone?) – we don’t keep the house all that warm, as attentive readers may have already noticed, we don’t keep things on standby, we have low energy light bulbs, yada yada yada. Signing up for 10:10, I thought, wasn’t really for the likes of us, it was for the other people, you know, the wasteful ones. But having thought about it, I wasn’t sure how honest I was being with myself. After all, our green virtues always loom large to us, and our green sins always look like pecadilloes. We all know people who claim to be green because they recycle their bottles, having driven down to the bottle bank in their gas-guzzling 4×4. There was probably several such glaring contradictions in my own life, if only I could see them

So, for my first step, I decided to measure how much oil, electricity and diesel we had used over the past year, and how much we were using now. I picked these three because they’re easy to measure and have a large impact on carbon emissions. I know there are other considerations like food, purchases, water, etc. but I reckon those can wait for now. This month, I’ve been logging our electricity meter reading every night to see how much we’ve used. It’s been an interesting exercise in finding out what it is that really cranks up the usage. It turns out our biggest energy hog is our electric shower which – despite being a standard-issue rural dribble – uses up about 1.5 KwH for a 10 minute shower. We’re not about to stop showering, but it does help keep our showers a bit brisker than they’ve been. It’s a first step, but it does show that simply measuring usage is enough to change behaviour even among those who already considered themselves to be green.

The next step will be to do the same for our oil and diesel usage, and see how we cut those. Watch this space – I will report back in a month’s time with the next thrilling installment (I know, you can hardly wait)

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8 Responses to Marks out of Ten

  1. Fab! Well done. Showers are hugely over-rated anyway – what with all that rain – you just need to get out there and run around.

  2. I am such a saddo that I thought this was interesting.
    I am on the board of governors for a land-based (used to be called agricultural) college. We have a fairly new committee devoted to ‘saving energy’ and have decided that the best measure of success is ‘ are we actually saving money’.

    At home I did some electricity monitoring last year, and found that the second fridge in my garage – used only for beer – is expensive to run. So we only used it for about 2 months this year.

  3. disgruntled says:

    Mr Goat – other half says ‘don’t encourage her.’
    dressing myself – that’s probably as good a way to measure it as any.

  4. Rebecca says:

    I actually found it all quite interesting. But is it just me, or does anyone else find it strange that a “green” campaign celebrates with paper supplements? Couldn’t they have done something on their website, television ads or some other non-tree killing manner? Especially since the shrinking readership of newspapers has been in the news forever, it’s seems a little ineffective.

  5. disgruntled says:

    true – but I suppose as it’s being supported by the Guardian, they’re going to want to put it in the paper (and it’s on the Guardian’s website). What I find curious is how minimalist the 10:10 website is, when it could do so much more

  6. R:B says:

    If the point of the exercise is to cut your footprint by 10% in 2010, surely you don’t want to start already – you’ll just be making your job harder next year. And surely this is a major flaw in the scheme…!?

    But speaking of contradictions: we recently received a shower-flow-reducer-thing through the post from some Govt-sponsored “green” scheme to reduce domestic water consumption. We didn’t request it and it isn’t suitable for our electric “rural dribble” either. I’d hate to know how many of these things were manufactured, packaged and mailed out to households that, similarly, can’t use them. Surely not the best use of resources…

  7. disgruntled says:

    I know, but the sooner any reductions are made the better, so I’m starting now.

    Regarding your shower thing – put it back in its box with all its packaging and put it up in the loft. Repeat with the next useless ‘green’ gadget you’re sent, until voila – a new layer of loft insulation, completely gratis…

  8. PaperBoy says:

    Will you be measuring the prevailing outside temperature too? I mean if we get a hard winter even going greener, you’ll use more fuel than in a mild winter… Most importantly, it’s another column for your spreadsheet to bore^H^H^Hstun us with 😉

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