Energy Descent Plan


Now we’re into Summer, our Carbon Footprint results are well overdue:

Our Energy Consumption: 2559 kWh

Our Carbon Footprint: 648 kg of CO2

And, as we’re still with Good Energy, who only supply electricity from renewable sources,  we can remove electricity from our carbon footprint:

Our carbon footprint with 100% renewable electricity: 550 kg

So there we go – going down, albeit affected by the driving from our recent holiday. We need to work on getting the gas down further though.

It’s been a while since I posted our Carbon Footprint results, and what better time to do so than just after such a brutally cold spell. This really highlights the difference between the light, warmer months and the dark cold winter.

Our Energy Consumption: 4478 kWh

That’s a major difference from our starting month (August) of 1396 kWh – and all the increase is due to gas used for heating.

Interestingly, there was not a significant change in electricity consumption, even though the aquaponics system is now running and we did use an electric heater in the polytunnel on several occasions.

Our Carbon Footprint: 994 kg of CO2

We just scraped in under 1 tonne, mainly thanks to an extremely low mileage this month (thanks to being snowbound mainly).

And, as we’re still with Good Energy, who only supply electricity from renewable sources,  we can remove electricity from our carbon footprint:

Our carbon footprint with 100% renewable electricity: 781 kg

So there we go – still going up rather than down! Very interesting going through our first winter in the house, let’s hope the consumption is down from here.

With the nights closing in we really need good lighting in the poytunnel so that we can keep working on the aquaponic system in the evenings. After a fair bit of research I found the perfect solution – low-energy security lighting. We’ve now got two of these lighting the tunnel, they’re only 36w each but give the same amount of light as standard 150w security lamps, we bought them online from TLC for £17.99 each.

 I’m pretty impressed with them so far: they come on quickly, and throw a good amount of light .We’ve got them secured to the ridge pole of the tunnel so that they throw the most light possible – and here’s the result:

Apart from two light fittings, all of the bulbs in our house are traditional incandescents. And there are lots of them. Tackling them all at once would be a mammoth task, so we’re going at it in a piecemeal fashion. Now that the evenings are drawing in we’re using the lights in the house a lot more, and I think they’re starting to become a significant drain on our electricity consumption.

My first spot to start was the bathroom. This has three – yes three – recessed light fittings. That makes it sound palatial, but it’s not. What it is is unbearably bright. Each fitting takes a full-size “R80” 100 watt reflector bulb. Luckily these had been progressively blowing, so at point of replacement we only had one running, and the light in the room was adequate, although poorly spread.

After some detailed online research I gave up and went to B&Q. Quite a lot of money later I had three Megaman 11W R63 reflector bulbs – each one equivalent to a 60W conventional bulb. I went for the slightly smaller, lower-powered R63 size because I new that three 100W-equivalent bulbs would be far too bright.

Putting them in was easy; the bulbs fitted perfectly and didn’t protrude from the ceiling. Turning them on was a little less impressive. Startup is a little slow, with them remaining dim for a little too long for my liking. Once they are all going though they are impressively bright – in fact if they’d had more of a choice I might have been tempted to go for something closer to 8W (40W equivalent). Still, even with these three, we’ve reduced the wattage in the bathroom from 300W to 33W – that should help our electricity bills a little, be a good step towards our 10:10 target, and make us a little more solar-ready.

Our second full month in the eco-house, the figures this month are affected by the 12-day holiday we took this month. It was a serious driving holiday – Trafford to Central Germany. We could have flown, but decided to take the “eco” option – we’ll have a look at how green that was later. This month saw the heating start to come on – albeit on a very occasional basis, and we’re using the lights a lot more in the evening.

Our Energy Consumption: 2718 kWh

That’s a pretty big number compared to last month’s 1396 kWh – and almost all the increase is due to the car:

Carbon Footprint Sep 09 Energy

That’s the difference you see when you drive 2154 miles instead of the 830 in August. Interestingly, there was not a large drop in electricity consumption, even though we were away for more than a third of the month.

Our Carbon Footprint: 722 kg of CO2

Carbon Footprint Sep 09 C02

And, as we’re still with Good Energy, who only supply electricity from renewable sources,  we can remove electricity from our carbon footprint:

Our carbon footprint with 100% renewable electricity: 597 kg

Carbon Footprint Sep 09 NoElec

So there we go – going up rather than down! Not a great start to the monitoring, but mostly due to the one-off impact of that 1800 mile across-Europe driving holiday. We’ll see how we go in October, now that the heating is on and the lighting is getting good use too.

We’ve had our first full month in the Eco-House, so here’s our monthly report – our Carbon Footprint for August. We’ll be plotting these each month on a graph to see how we go. I’m anticipating that this’ll be one of our lowest months – the lights have hardly been on, and there’s been no heating used. It’ll be interestiung to see how we go through the winter, and then how next year’s figures compare.

Our Energy Consumption: 1396 kWh

Carbon Footprint Aug 09 Energy Comsumption

As you can see, the majority of our energy came from using the car – 830 miles at an average 49.9 MPG . That’s significantly higer than previous months – not helped by a 300-mile round trip on the bank holiday weekend. Now lets convert this into our Carbon Emissions:

Our Carbon Footprint: 412kg of CO2

Carbon Footprint August 09

What’s interesting to see here is how the electricity we use has a much higher impact on our Carbon Footprint than it should for the energy we use. With that in mind we’ve changed electricity supplier to Good Energy. Good Energy only supply electricity from renewable sources, so we can remove electricity from our carbon footprint.

Our carbon footprint with 100% renewable electricity: 258 kg

Carbon Footprint Aug 09 Good Energy

So that’s a significant reduction – 37% off our carbon footprint in one go. If every month was the same as August we’d be on track for an annual carbon footprint of just over three tonnes. Not bad for the four of us. Unfortunately not every month will be like August – so we’ll see how we go!

Our initial target is to come in well under the nine tonnes of CO2 per adult that is the average Mark Lynas quotes in the Guardian. To make the comparison fair though we need to include a couple of other things on the graphs – water consumption and public transport use. I’ll try and get some of those on the September figures.

We’re getting ready to publish our monthly report card on how we’re doing in the Eco-House – a crucial part of our Energy Descent Plan. Last month’s report just focused on the car as we hadn’t been in the house for long enough to get proper readings for gas and electric, but this month’s report will have the Big Three. I’ve just read the meters and grabbed the car’s mileage, once I’ve put it all together I’ll put the report card up so we can see how we’re doing!

If you want to compare your progress with ours, pop out and read your meter now, and write down your car mileage too!

You can click here to keep up with our Energy Descent Plan.

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