Sunday, 6 December 2009

Copenhagen starts tomorrow

When I started this Advent section of my blog I had hoped to give some suggestion each day – in the same vein as the book I followed last year – and report my experiences. I’ve failed so far. I also thought I’d include some environmental suggestions. Tomorrow sees the start of the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change – see the official web site. I’m not sure how much a big political event like this can achieve: bringing increased awareness and acceptance would be good but I’m suspicious that anything more will be political rather than real.

I was prompted to think of global warming again this morning by, of all people, Ranulph Fiennes and Michael Jackson! The former chose a song by the latter as his inheritance track on the radio this morning (I’m sorry about plugging R4 regularly) The words quoted by Fiennes, which he was passing on to his 3-year-old daughter, were ‘If you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself, and then make a change’ It reminded me of one of the principles of the quality drive we were immersed in during the ’80s – I think it was as long ago as that. Who remembers the quality stuff? We were led by the Japanese. The apocryphal story of the supplier of widgets who was told that only 1% should be faulty; the box of 1000 contained a bag with the 10 faulty ones in: the rest were perfect. The principle was that we could only change things that were under our control: it was very easy to say ‘if only X would do something we’d be a lot better’ but that didn’t achieve anything. It was a good principle – but a tough one. I think the same applies to our attempts at controlling the climate: It’s easy to blame the Chinese, or the oil industry, or the people down the road who drive a big Volvo (oh dear!) But what am I doing? What are you doing?

Let’s start with energy-saving light bulbs. These have come a long way from the £15 bulbs that took 10 minutes to warm up and only give 30% of the light of bulbs they purport to replace. Unfortunately, I have some of those bought originally for the lounge but moved to the study because they were so poor. The disadvantage of long-life bulbs is that they last for ever! I have a cupboard full of bulbs given by the electricity company (well, half a dozen or so) and it’s possible to buy them for 10p or so. I’ve changed virtually all the lights we use regularly to energy-savers – and will change the remainder when the current tungsten ones die. Normal incandescent lamps are fairly easy to change but reflector spotlights are more difficult. I’ve found some that are pretty good once they warm up (10 minutes’ notice required to boil the kettle in the kitchen!) but they are slow and quite expensive. I see that Gil Lec in Chesham are starting to sell LED bulbs which seem similar to the spots we have in the kitchen but I think they need different holders. I’ll have to investigate further.

I’ve also found some replacements for the PAR reflectors (the big spots) – we have some in Church. These are reportedly a higher wattage equivalent and are expected to last 15,000 hours which seems to be a double or triple advantage. We’ll see.

We have a large stock of tungsten bulbs in Church – presumably bought in bulk some time ago. I’m torn between being very green and discarding them, and keeping them till they are no longer available on the open market and then e-baying them for funds!

How are you doing changing over to energy-savers? What’s your experience?

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