Are You Below Average?

Want to talk about how to keep stuff out of landfill? Here is your place to do it.
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Muddypause
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Post: #17199 Muddypause
Sun Apr 09, 2006 7:01 pm

I realise this idea is up against some impossible calculations. It's probably more suited to an urban environment, too. And it can't possibly take into account all the variations in the lives of different people.

The idea, really, is to get some idea of an individual's 'footprint' on the planet, and try to make it less than the average footprint. I was trying to get away from the polarised notion that consuming electricity, or gas, or petrol, or whatever, is simply wrong and that you shouldn't do it. Instead, consume it, but do it carefully. All that we need is for the overall average to go down, and eventually it may get to be low enough to be sustainable. This could be done by enough people using less than that average.

Boots wrote:...and also run power across longer distances (they say that costs more, when you use extension leads. Does it Muddy?)


Well...yes, (you've discovered one of the many weak points in my knowledge of physics, here). Put simply, the longer the cable, the more resistance to the flow of electricity. So, something like a light, or a heater will give a reduced output, and I guess a pump will work slower. But you can offset this by using a fatter cable, which will have a lower resistance.

The extra resistance also has a more marked effect upon low voltages - eg, 12v systems are in trouble if they have to be cabled over long distances; you need thicker and thicker cable, and copper is expensive when it gets up to these sorts of sizes. Nev can probably tell you more about this. It's also one reason why powercables which travel miles overland carry power that has been stepped up to thousands, or tens of thousands of volts - there is less loss over long distances.
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Wombat
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Post: #17481 Wombat
Thu Apr 13, 2006 12:38 pm

Yep! Its called line losses and is proportional to the length of the cable and inversely proprotional to the thickness (Cross sectional area). I have also read that because electricity travels along the outside of the wire(?) if you have multicore wiring it makes it better.

Line losses cause lights to burn dimmer, unless they are fluorescents, in which case they don't seem to change until the voltage reaches a threshold and then they cease to function altogether!

The lower the voltage, the more line losses are a problem so going to a 24 volt system can help with low voltage systems, and it is why they pump it up to 33,000v to push it cross country.

Nev
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Our website on living more sustainably in the suburbs! - http://www.underthechokotree.com/

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AnnetteR
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Post: #20032 AnnetteR
Mon May 15, 2006 11:07 pm

In comparison to the people I have known, that I now know, and what I observe, I am way below the average in use.

It's so easy to compromise, but apparently it's just as easy to convince yourself there's no need or it's too much a hassle (just rambling -sorry)

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Post: #20317 Wombat
Fri May 19, 2006 11:38 am

:mrgreen: Go for it Annette!
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den_the_cat
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Post: #21118 den_the_cat
Sun May 28, 2006 4:33 pm

thats a brilliant idea, it definately gets across the idea that everyone can do something - its not realistic to expect people to make huge changes in their lifestyle at once and a load of people I know just 'don't bother' because they don't think they can make a difference but even if they only reduce 'their' average year on year it will help in the long run.

Just to build on the whole 'running three freezers is less energy consuming than buying meat from the supermarket' idea - it really is, because by using (very) local resources you're not buying meat which has been shipped across europe by road, or veg which has been flown around the world.

You can also try and stay carbon neutral by joining something like climate care and paying a voluntary 'tax' on your carbon emissions - its not so expensive (the amount for a london - NY return flight is £12) but it helps the environment a little even if not solving the whole carbon fuel issue and it also makes you think about how driving 10,000 miles a year in an average car creates almost twice the carbon emissions as that flight to NY does per person. :shock:

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Post: #21594 vurtpunk
Fri Jun 02, 2006 10:59 am

This could be a useful starting point for everyone

http://www.bestfootforward.com/ecocal.htm
It says UK only but I'm not sure how/if they police that at all.

I haven't given it a proper go yet as I need to check bills and mileage etc to enter into the program but it looks nice and easy to use

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hedgewizard
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Post: #21595 hedgewizard
Fri Jun 02, 2006 12:08 pm

Interesting, but quite aside from working out averages for different lifestyles I'm uneasy with the concept. It's a similar uneasiness to the one I have with carbon trading.

If you assume that energy consumption (etc) spread over the population is a bell-curve, then you need some extremely low consumers to balance out the extremely high ones. That's normal distribution, and if you want to move the average down then as many people as possible need to reduce their consumption down as far as possible. Being a bit below average won't do it.

I do take the point though that if the whole eco-message is to painful people will ignore it. They're more likely to swallow a smaller pill.

On the whole then, everybody needs to do a little more than they are comfortable doing... regardless of what lifestyle they lead. What would be really useful is knowing which of our activities cause the most damage, so that changes could be prioritised, and the big freezer argument is a case in point here.


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