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Switching off your lights has a bigger impact than you might think, says new study

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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 09:13 AM
Original message
Switching off your lights has a bigger impact than you might think, says new study
http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialc...

Switching off your lights has a bigger impact than you might think, says new study

Carbon emission figure used for policy analysis is 60 percent too low -

Imperial College London News Release

For Immediate Release
Wednesday 30 June 2010

Switching off lights, turning the television off at the mains and using cooler washing cycles could have a much bigger impact on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power stations than previously thought, according to a new study published this month in the journal Energy Policy. The study shows that the figure used by government advisors to estimate the amount of carbon dioxide saved by reducing people's electricity consumption is up to 60 percent too low.

The power stations that supply electricity vary in their carbon dioxide emission rates, depending on the fuel they use: those that burn fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) have higher emissions than those driven by nuclear power and wind. In general only the fossil fuel power stations are able to respond instantly to changes in electricity demand.

Dr Adam Hawkes, the author of the new study from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, says the government should keep track of changing carbon emission rates from power stations to ensure that policy decisions for reducing emissions are based on robust scientific evidence. The new study suggests that excluding power stations with low carbon emission rates, such as wind and nuclear power stations, and focussing on those that deal with fluctuating demand would give a more accurate emission figure.

Scientists advising government on for the best ways to reduce electricity demand currently use an estimated figure for emission rates. The new study shows that, at 0.43 kilograms of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour of electricity consumed, this figure is 60 percent lower than the actual rates observed between 2002 and 2009 (0.69 kilograms of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour), meaning that policy studies are underestimating the impact of people reducing their electricity use.

Dr Adam Hawkes, author of the paper, and a Visiting Fellow at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, said: "One way governments are trying to mitigate the effects of climate change is to encourage people to reduce their energy consumption and change the types of technologies they use in their homes. However, the UK government currently informs its policy decisions based on an estimate that, according to my research, is lower than it should be.

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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 09:27 AM
Response to Original message
1. This rubs me the wrong way.
Granted that energy efficiency is extremely important. More investments are essential to address climate change and it's the method of action most beneficial to consumers.

However, we need to get beyond the idea that energy efficiency is just turning down the thermostat and shutting off the lights. These are the kind of actions promoted by carbon-heavy utilities who want to push the responsibility for action off onto the consumer instead of investing in efficiency projects with a more long-term effect.

Smart metering with higher rates during peak demand hours is probably a more effective ways to lower usage and reduce the spikes in demand mentioned in the article. Of course, that involves a large capital investment by the utility company. I don't know how much of England is already equipped with smart meters.
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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 10:31 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Yeah. To heck with millions of people conserving electricity voluntarily.
Just tell the power companies it's entirely THEIR responsibility to conserve.

You DO realize that the only way we are going to avoid climate catastrophe is if we do BOTH: individuals all conserving as much as humanly possible PLUS large-scale transitioning to renewables and more efficient production???

Anybody who pooh-poohs individual conservation is basically collaborating with the enemy.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 02:17 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. Sure, we do both.
I've simply grown skeptical of utilities pushing unpopular behavioral changes on their customers instead of giving effective efficiency rebates or shutting down their coal power plants. They're passing the buck.
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 03:31 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Passing the buck?
Now, seriously without consumption, there's no need for production.

I really don't see where there's any imperative for utilities to pay their customers to not buy their product.

Yes, I realize, we're addicted.

OK, so are the liquor companies paying people to not buy their products!?
Are the tobacco companies paying people to not buy their products?

It sounds to me like you're passing the buck to the utilities.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 03:46 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. When utilities that operate
dirty coal power plants, which are the top source of man-made global warming pollutants, then yes it is their responsibility to help solve the problem.
The imperative is the climate change crisis.
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 08:27 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. I don't know about your state
Here, I was able to contract with a company for 100% green power, generated in state. (I still conserve.)

A few years later, the local utility started offering a 100% green plan as well.
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guardian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 06:52 PM
Response to Reply #2
11. Yeah let's just shut off power for several hours a day.
That's the ticket. Only turn on power between 8-5 when people are at work. Let's go naked too. Do you realize how much energy is consumed in the manufacture of clothing. And the with the coming burning inferno nobody will need clothing to stay warm. Finally...a silver lining in this dark cloud of DOOM.
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roguevalley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 01:52 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. I have reduced my electrical bill from 190$ to 25$ from using
electrical strips and putting things on them, turning them off when they aren't used and keeping lights off in rooms I'm not in. There are only about five things left on in my house all the time, clocks and kitchen appliances and my freezer. They would be off but for the need of them. I also halved my propane use. Its awesome to make it a challenge and to succeed. Turn off your computers when you don't use them. They are hogs.
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 10:37 AM
Response to Original message
3. I feel a need to grind my axe: It is time to bring back The Off Switch.
You youngsters may not know what I mean, but once there was a time when all appliances came with a physical switch that, when placed in a certain position, completely opened the circuit, thus reducing current flow to zero.

I think there are literally no appliances in my house that have a motherfucking off switch. I have to either unplug them, or turn off the power strip they're plugged into.

x(
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Nihil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 11:58 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. I hear you!
> I think there are literally no appliances in my house that have a motherfucking
> off switch. I have to either unplug them, or turn off the power strip they're
> plugged into.

I had a similar moment (albeit with milder language) when my request to turn off
the Xbox or whatever was met with a "But it *is* off" followed by a bemused
expression on said child's face when I pointed to the glowing light on the PSU
that proved him wrong.

My monitor has an off switch and it is used whenever I finish with the PC.
It is off. It consumes zero Watts. It is old (ok, ancient).

His monitor has an "off" switch that shuts it into standby mode only - you cannot
switch the device genuinely off without pulling the mains plug out.

It drives me up the sodding wall ...
:rant:
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 01:10 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. But... But... But...
Then, I'd have to reset the clock and calendar every time I use it!
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-30-10 02:19 PM
Response to Reply #3
8. Interesting point.
It could make a big difference if people could turn things off without having to reach behind an appliance or move the sofa to reach the plug-in.
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