By Anjana Mehta
With huge impacts on life on earth. We bring you here the first of a 3-part series on how as an individual we can reduce our carbon footprint and save the world for not just the generations to come but ourselves now as the situation is seriously severe. Anjana Mehta tells us about simple measures that she uses effectively in her house in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan.
We have to bring down our use of fossil fuels as fast as possible. Governments can't do it because people want quality of life which currently seems to be linked to use of fossil fuels. We have to demonstrate that we can maintain our quality of life while reducing use of fossil fuels.
40 % of all CO2 emissions are caused by electricity generation from fossil fuels. We have tried out these 20 methods to gradually reduce our electricity use :
Heating Home in Winters
1. Delhi NCR loves its winters wanting to flaunt it and yet keep the chill at bay and does that warrant excessive usage of electricity? We have maximized sun use when it is comfortable to be outside. Our balcony / garden are equipped with electric point for laptop, table and chair, so one can spend long hours outside.
2. Blowers and Oil Radiators use 1000 or 2000 W at a time. In contrast halogen rod heaters use 125-400 W rods for heating and one can use multiple rods for faster heating.
3. But as we have become more conscious of what global warming implies, we find ourselves dressing up even more warmly at home – as a result, this winter we have not needed to use heaters at all.
4. Hot water is used only for bathing, not for washing of hands or washing utensils. Of course, someone unwell would use the hot water stored in the geyser for washing hands, or an especially dirty utensil would be washed in hot water.
5. In the early 90s, we moved to using 60 W incandescent bulbs (the filament type) instead of 100 W.
6. In mid-90s, we replaced nearly all our filament bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), thus reducing per light load to 18 and 36 W from 60 W. Some bulbs stayed in special fittings and lamps as CFLs did not then come in those sizes.
7. We were slow to move to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) unfortunately, because a lot of our early CFLs, then quite expensive, had to be replaced for inferior quality. So we were waiting for assured quality. Also, we could not then find yellow light LEDs and could not stand white light. But now for the last 2 years or so, we buy only LEDs and are gradually replacing all bulbs as the past ones die out. All heavy use lights already have LEDs.
8. We find ourselves becoming more economical in the use of lighting. One light suffices where two were put on habitually earlier.
9. Outside light is utilized to the maximum by hanging transparent plastic curtain on the doors which get a lot of light. This plastic curtain keeps out the cold air in winter and hot air in summer, while letting in light.
10. Window glasses are curtained off for the night only at sleep time as until then they continue letting in outside light.
11. In consultation with our neighbours, we keep less of the lights of our common corridors on.
12. Two of our torches are solar.
Cooling home in summers
13. Our mini honeycomb pad cooler uses just 90 W instead of the 350 W and above, for mid-sized woodwool coolers.
14. We have just learnt that slower speeds in fans use much less electricity than full speed, so we will now use them at more optimum levels.
15. We have just learnt about and started replacing old induction motor 90 W fans with new electronic motor 28 W fans – whenever old fans go out of order and cannot be repaired.
16. Our AC use is 10 % compared to our neighbours and only on the hottest days for short durations. The coolers carry on cooling after the AC is shut off. Coolers even circulate the cool air to a second room if both are occupied.
17. All sun receiving areas of the house are shaded during summer with green nursery cloth. 'Tirpals' / roller blinds / plastic curtains are used, preferably outside the sun receiving windows, so the glass does not heat up.
18. All computers are now switched off for the night as are spike busters connecting them to power sources.
19. When we are getting up from our computers, we are more conscious to immediately put them to sleep while we are away.
20. Having become more economical in our use of electricity, we now use the full capacity of an oven while baking rather than partially. For example, all 'shakarkandi' (sweet potato) is baked together in larger quantity at a go.
As a result, we seemed to have more than halved our electricity bills to about 850-950 rs. a month. However, there are lots of frontiers to reach still to reduce our use of electricity and we will work towards them :
• The fridge is left on when we are away. We will apply our mind to see if we can shut it off when away, without wasting the food.
• We want to use solar for more of our electricity needs and have been gradually exploring it.
Anjana Mehta is an urban development professional who has worked with the Government of India and various state governments on improvement of civic services such as sewage systems, water supply and waste management. She now devotes her time to public service and is currently focusing on informing residents, industries and schools on the implications of global warming for India and the world.
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