Friday, 13 July 2007

Electricity firms are trying out new Smart meters

Four major UK electricity suppliers has signed a contract with the government to install 40,000 smart meters as part of a two year trial. The government is giving £10 million towards the costs of this. The purpose of the trial is to determine whether smart meters actually reduce people’s electricity consumption. It is hoped the smart meters will help people change the way they use electricity.

The smart meters will have a clip-on display unit that shows electricity use in real time. This means the consumer can see exactly how much each appliance is costing them to run. Whether this will make people change the way they use electricity remains to be seen. I’m sure people will be more likely to turn off lights and appliances on stand-by once they see how much it is costing them. The aim is to have every home fitted with smart meters by 2017.

The consumer watchdog energywatch believes this is inadequate and has asked the government to make all new and replacement meters smart meters. This makes so much more sense. Why install new meters and replace existing ones with ordinary meters, then in a few years time have to go through the whole process again and replace them all with smart meters. The only reasons I can see for this is that with the existing meters the electricity companies can give estimated bills and can make more money by over estimating electricity use, and if they install smart meters people will use less electricity so they will make less profit. It seems like a strange thing for any retailer to do, to ask their customers to buy less of their product! Maybe the government needs to bring in legal requirements for the use of smart meters.

[Via The Guardian]

People lead the way in saving the planet

There is a quiet revolution taking place, right under our noses. Change is happening throughout the land. As public awareness of climate change grows, more ordinary people are making changes to their lifestyle to at least try to save the planet. Although the effects are limited when viewed at an individual level, when taken as a whole, the cumulative results are much greater. Little things like people drying their clothes in the old fashioned way on a washing line rather than using a tumble dryer can make a huge impact on electricity use. An average tumble dryer creates 1.5kg of CO2. Taken over a year this figure is far from negligible, taken across the country the figure is pretty significant.

Using a washing line creates none. Asda have reportedly sold 1.2 million clothes pegs between January and April of this year, an increase of 1,400% on the same period last year, and ales of clothes lines and rotary dryers is up by 147%. So, it becomes obvious that every little change we make to reduce our carbon footprint is worth doing, no matter how small it may seem to us as an individual, because as a society if we all make these small changes, we can make a big difference to our future.

[Via The Independent]

Having too many children can damage the environment

I know that traditionally, having children is pretty much down to each individual and there has never been any statutory control in this area. A new report by the Optimum Population Trust has been published earlier this week that states families should have a maximum of two children, as any more is damaging to the environment. I know this smacks of interference into people’s lives, but maybe if people are being reckless in their behaviour and damaging the planet, which let’s face affects us all, there does need to be some kind of regulation in place.

The think-tank have worked out that over an 80 year lifespan, the average UK child will create the equivalent carbon footprint of 620 of return flights to New York. When you factor into the equation that each child will have their own children, the carbon footprint gets even bigger. As well as their carbon footprint, there is the use of the Earth’s resources, water and food. The fact that the world is overpopulated is open to question, some people would like to believe the Earth can support an ever growing population. The think-tank obviously believes the world is not big enough to support the human population as it stands, and as it grows, the world will struggle to support us all.

The report has been met by some as an intrusion into their freedom to live their lives as they wish. But, is an individual’s right to freedom of lifestyle more important than the good of the wider community? Where is the line that separates freedom of choice and global responsibility? The government will in the future have to decide where to step in to perhaps curtail personal choice for the greater good. Scary thought, but it may have to happen some day as resources become limited.

[Via The Guardian]