Friday 2 March 2012

energy shifts involve mind shifts

There are always surprises in store when we talk about saving energy, or open up that conversation. Whether that be of the physical kind - through electricity or gas use - or the personal kind - 'let's not waste energy thinking about this'.

I was a child in the 50s and 60s when we really didn't have a clue about energy consumption. Filling up that car, leaving the lights on, and burning coal until the atmosphere around us began to choke ( London smog, et al). There was no house insulation, double glazing hadn't been invented, and the England football team actually won things ( maybe because the penalty shoot-out also hadn't been invented).

So we have come a long way. All that has changed. Why? Partly because we have become more aware of the climate change implications, but probably more specifically because energy is no longer cheap. And of course we haven't seen anything yet, in terms of energy prices - they are destined to increase year on year at double or triple the rate of inflation, as energy scarcity increases alongside demand, and the related political unrest in countries of 'strategic significance' ( read: with a lot of oil) increases.

However there are still surprises. Both individual households, and businesses big and small, often do not see energy-saving as a cost saver. This is all the more surprising in the current climate for small businesses who feel the squeeze from several different directions.
Research shows that this is often because the degrees of savings to be achieved through energy saving measures are hugely under-estimated.

So - practical as ever - Transition Norwich invented it's Energy Look Outs group. We realised there was - in the jargon - a suppressed demand from individuals as ordinary citizens who are seeing everyday, examples of waste around the business sector in Norwich, particularly in the retail sector. Some go to the trouble of reporting it , but find they get faced with a mass of bureaucracy, or puzzled looks, or both.

So, we are busy collating information reported to us, and as part of that, we are carrying out a little audit of shops in Norwich regarding their door policy. See here to read about the national 'Close the Door Campaign' .

U.S. citizens now living here are amazed that in the middle of our winter, shops leave doors wedged open. In the Northern States, this would be economic suicide for retailers to do this, as well as rather uncomfortable for their customers coming into the shop. If the centre of world capitalism is behaving in this way, why are we not?

So - we are meeting in The Forum 2.00 p.m. 23rd and 28th March, just outside 'Tourist Information', to start our little tour. This will be observation only, so no engagement with retailers just yet! No experience necessary, and cafe-lovers note: we'll be winding up in one at the end of the day, around 4.00 p.m.!

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