Forget turning the lights off at night…

So, I like to think of myself as fairly environmentally minded. I ride a bike, I buy organic bamboo socks if I’m not buying second hand clothes, I purchased a reusable plastic water bottle with a filter top that seemed to start smelling odd after a week (is it just me?) and I recycle although I generally think it’s a waste of time and that we should forget recycling in favour of reusing and reducing because let’s remember people RECYCLING IS THE BOTTOM RUNG of reduce, reuse, recycle.

So I was having a slight tense discussion with my much beloved and erratic, not to say impatient and sometimes¬†irascible mother, along the lines of her saying ‘Someone should work out how much energy we would save in a year if all the things on stand-by in London were turned off”. I said it would be much better to de-centralise the production of electricity and save on the amount of energy that gets wasted in transporting it. She didn’t buy it. I don’t know where I read it but I felt pretty confident that some huge percentage (what, like maybe a quarter?) of all the electricity produced in the UK was wasted by trailing it through wires or whatever (am not a scientist, can you tell?) all over the country. Any humming sound or heat it produces is effectively lost or wasted energy. Naturally, I couldn’t remember where I’d read it, when or if I had really just made it up so I Googled it. And found this mind blowing graphic. It’s for America but I bet the wastage is similar in the UK.

According to these stats, in 2009 of the 94.5 QBTU (quadrillion British Thermal units – really) of energy produced in the US only 40 actually get used. And of all the energy produced, 38.2 QBTU gets turned into electricity of which 26.1 QBTU gets wasted before it reaches the consumer. 26.1 of 38.2! THAT’S LIKE 68%. SIXTY EIGHT PERCENT. Wasted even before it gets to the consumer.

That is the bad shit. This is why my mum has bought herself a tiny windmill to make her own electricity – she wants to be ready when all this bad shit hits the fan. When civilisation goes down in a blaze of riots and anarchy my mum wants to be able to make tea and listen to the radio in her field.


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