'From the Field' AwardsEnergy security - Follow up
Inspiring fieldwork supported by the RGS-IBG
When people think of energy they think of it as something that has to paid for, and is transient: it flows into the house, is used up and then leaves. It is somehow separate to the house – if you moved house you would open a new energy account and start paying for a new supply. One of the first things that people do when moving in to a new house is take a meter reading.
Ralitsa uses the phrase 'embodied energy' in her work.
“People don’t actually consume energy, they consume the services that provide energy”
What does that mean in practice?
Many communities are working through what has been called an ‘energy transition’. They have been looking at changing the way that they use energy. There are grants available in many locations to install solar panels. These will continue to provide energy for many years to come, and the important difference here is that these are part of the house itself. This means that when people move on, they leave the panels behind. The energy they produce is contributed to the national grid, but does not nessarily reduce the bill that the house owner receives. So what is the incentive to have the panels fitted ?
What would be the ‘benefits’ of having solar panels fitted on south facing rooves of all the houses in your street?
These changes are being brought about by the rising costs of energy, and the acceptance that we may have passed the ‘peak’ of oil production, and oil reserves are finite (they will not last for ever).
Why is it important that we think long term when it comes to energy?
You could explore how solar panels work and the benefits of those compared to other forms of energy generation.
Think about the following tasks.
Consider how you can do them now, and how you might do them in the future when energy prices are significantly higher. Of course all these changes to behaviour could also be done now and reduce the family’s energy bill, but people often tend to choose convenience.
- Cooking a meal for the family
- Travelling to work or school
- Playing a game inside with friends
- Doing the main weekly shopping
- Doing homework
- Travelling to holiday destination
- Exchanging news with family who are abroad
- Keeping warm on a chilly autumn evening
Suggest some energy-reducing strategies for doing these tasks
Suggest two other activities where energy could be saved by changing behaviour.
Energy futures are a major part of Ralitsa’s work, indeed the fact that this will be ongoing during her life (and that of the students) means that it is going to be a long term project.
You are going to send an e-mail to your future self.
This can be done using the website Future Me.
The UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change (note the important connection that has been made there) has some useful advice for exploring future energy.
Write a letter describing your current use of energy and what you are doing to reduce it.
Think about home, transport, school, holidays and other places that you use energy.