Reducing Your Carbon Impact During Lockdown 🏡

Hi Everyone :earth_africa:

As some of you may have gathered, at Bulb we’re completely obsessed with finding new and thrifty ways to reduce energy bills and emissions :bulb:

We have a very interesting new blog post titled ‘Your carbon impact on Lockdown’. This shows the impact of your home activities during lockdown and what ways you can improve your usage.

There are some simple and effective changes you can make to lower your footprint. For example, I was personally quite shocked that by making sure my electronic devices are unplugged at night I can save up to 60kg of CO2 emissions each year. The same emissions 30 trees would absorb in a year.This means after an evening visiting friends on Animal Crossing, make sure to turn off and unplug the TV to help make the real world as green as their Nintendo’s virtual simulation.

:deciduous_tree:

Some of the changes that caught our attention are:

  • The carbon impact of streaming is not as bad as previously thought. Watching a 30 minute show on Netflix is the same as driving 200 meters in a conventional car, not 4 miles as was previously believed. So when you’re sobbing over Connell and Marriane on Normal People, using your phone or laptop to watch is an easy way to be more energy efficient. Also, downloading Dua Lipa’s new album to listen to on your 5k run, is more green than using data to stream it each time :running_woman:

  • Carbon-conscious cooking not only has health benefits for you, but for the planet. Why not source ingredients locally and reduce transportation emissions. I have interpreted this as ditching that banana bread recipe for a tasty British carrot cake :cake:

  • Making the most of that natural sunny evening glow on Zoom dates is both romantic and a great way to reduce electricity demand on the grid at peak times :sun_with_face:

In a similar vein, we’ve also been sharing energy savings tips on our Instagram such as only boiling the water you need for your tea. This simple change can save around £6 a year and has also really taken off with my family.

We want to know what tips you’ve developed in lockdown. Are you showering less or are you letting your food get cold before putting it in the fridge, are you lid on or off when cooking? Let us know below

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I am a bit dubious about this turning off electronic devices rather than leaving them on standby. One of the benefits of getting a smart meter for me was finding out just how much the various electronic devices use when turned off. My baseload electricity usage with devices on standby (2 TVs, 2 PVRs, 1 digital radio, the gas central heating boiler, the broadband router and the digital meters) was down around 40w, so 1kWh/day. Of those the only ones I could turn off (by unplugging them) are the TVs and the digital radio.

The big improvement you can make in cooking is to use an induction hob, although then you need saucepans with a ferromagnetic base. Combine this with low-water cooking where the lid of the pan makes a tight seal; you put the pan on a high heat initially to form the water seal (you can tell because the lid will spin freely) and then turn the heat down to a simmer level. The reduction in air pressure inside the saucepan pulls the lid down and seals the saucepan. In effect, the food is steamed rather than boiled and less vitamins are lost into the cooking water.

Hey @North_Londoner Interesting stuff both on the benefits (or not) of unplugging devices & improving efficiency in the kitchen.

Is it that you don’t notice a difference between leaving the TVs or Radios on standby, or that you can’t unplug the majority of the devices, so this piece of advice isn’t particularly relevant to your electricity usage?

Turning, for example, a TV off at the wall is relatively long standing energy saving advice & I suppose is an example of a small thing that everyone can do to make a combined contribution, but it is good to make the distinction between this & usage patterns that will make more of a noticeable difference to your billing.

I’ve just moved flats and have gone from having a gas hob which our Energy Performance Certificate showed to be very costly, to an overall more efficient flat with an induction hob. I’d always had the notion these were slow to heat, but that’s definitely not the case!

Thanks for those cooking tips, I’ll be sure to put them into practice even if just to see the spinning lid in action, it sounds almost therapeutic! :shallow_pan_of_food:

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@Matthew_W_at_Bulb As far as I can tell the difference in power consumption between one of my TVs on standby and unplugged is ~1-2 watts. The digital radio is definitely less than 1 watt because the IHD doesn’t change at all. I think that the TV advice was a hangover from the days before flat-screen TVs, when it really did make a difference. I also see odd changes in power consumption on the IHD that I cannot identify with any device turning on or off that are rather larger, so I haven’t pursued these small power reductions any further.

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@Matthew_W_at_Bulb I was thinking of another tip. You remember that regardless of when your smart meter sends data to Bulb, it updates your IHD every few seconds and your IHD shows your total electricity and gas usage to 1 Wh/ .001 cu m. If you take your IHD round with you, you can check the effect of switching equipment on and off by the integrated amount of electricity or gas usage from the meter reading as well as the instantaneous usage from the display. I find this particularly useful for electricity as the instantaneous usage tends to jump around as equipment like the fridge/freezer turns on and off automatically.

One item for the wish list would be an app for PCs that could sniff the wifi data transfer from the meter to the IHD and save it as a CSV file: date, time, electricity meter reading, and gas meter reading is all that is required. It is the sort of thing that could work well on a Rasberry Pi; it doesn’t need a Windows operating system underneath it, just a means of exporting the data to a spreadsheet.

@North_Londoner That’s definitely interesting if you’ve taken the time to compare the difference between the two. Is there anything you’ve checked that’s made more of a difference than people might expect, along the lines of your efficient cooking tips?