15 October 2009

Blog Action Day 2009: Britain's climate change energy scandal


[This blog entry is in honour of Blog Action Day, taking place today, on the subject of climate change.]

Here in Britain it is the suppliers to the KBB market that are taking positive action to combat climate change, not the Government, or the 'Government-Elect'.

This week the news broke in the UK that energy prices were, like the energy produced, going to go through the roof. The BBC warned that in a worst-case scenario, prices could rise by 60% over the next 20 year.

According to the Government and its main opposition, the answer is for private citizens to generate more of their own electricity and sell the surplus back to the power generation companies - "just like thousands do in Germany". It's funny how that particular 'German Solution' is always quoted, because it only tells part of the story.

First, their government has spent thousands in subsidies to encourage German consumers to bolt solar panels on their roofs and erect windmills in their gardens.

Second, the payback period on this generation equipment takes many years, even with subsidies.

Contrast this with the three-to-four year payback on an A++ refrigerator which consumes up to 30% less energy than a standard refrigerator and you have to ask why is the Government so hooked into generating more energy when reducing energy consumption seems to make much more sense?

Tumble dryers generally get a bad environmental press where some view them as the SUV of domestic appliances. But they also serve as an example of what is already being done by responsible manufacturers such as Siemens.

In 1999, its best selling tumble dryer used 0.82 kWh of electricity. Today’s new models boast only 0.27 kWh; that’s a saving of around 67% over previous models.

In fact, choosing an ‘A’ rated tumble dryer such as the one in the picture above saves £60 a year in running costs against a ‘C’ rated machine – that’s £300 over 5 years - based on an average use of 200 cycles per year.

We don't just face an energy crisis of course; we are heading towards a second crisis caused by a shortage of water too. Once again, it is the industry taking the lead rather than Government - probably because it cannot ask us to generate more water!

Nearly all of the main suppliers of kitchen and bathroom water-based equipment offer some form of water-saving feature: reduced flushing features on cisterns, flow restrictors on taps, mixing air and water in showers and even redesigning baths so that less water is needed for a soak.

Do these forward-thinking companies get a Government subsidy to help them in their vital work? Do they heck!

When we faced a financial crisis, the Government knocked 2.5% off of VAT, a move for which it was criticised for by many as been too little to be effective. Yet when Italy substantially reduced the VAT on the most efficient electrical appliances, it was sales of these appliances rather than wasted energy that went through the roof!

Today thousands of commentators throughout the world are going to be using their blogs as part of a Blog Action Day campaign to draw attention to the problems of climate change.

Sadly, those of us in the UK care less about energy conservation when we buy a new appliance than any other country in Europe.

The UK Government - either the present one or a future one - could change attitudes at a stroke by giving manufacturers an incentive to invest even more in the production of energy efficient appliances by significantly reducing VAT on the most efficient A++ products.

Dr. Kurt-Ludwig Gutberlet CEO of the BSH Group estimates we could reduce energy consumption by around 30% without any major changes in lifestyle and for a substantially smaller investment than subsidising a self-generation energy programme.

One of the answers to climate change is not to generate more energy - green or otherwise - but to consume less.

And the technology to do this already exists.

If you would like to read further posts about climate change, please follow the links below to blogs on this subject by my colleagues:

The Alarmist

FSE fire's Weblog

John Welsh's These Digital Times

TheSecurityLion

Zero Champion

Rob Enslin

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