Archive for the 'Energy & Environment' Category

Ms Richards New Pet OWL

Yes I have a new pet OWL.  Not quite as feathery as you would imagine but it’s very smart.

This has found its way to my household via a trail from Project Genie which is a project set up to produce educational materials, resources, information and support for children, teachers, parents and carers, to explore the implications of climate change and what everyone can do to minimise the harmful effects.

Project Genie lent us this little gadget to trial and shows how much electricity my household uses at any one time and calculates the cost in pence per hour as shown below or in greenhouse gasses.  This has been quite usefull as I can work out how much pocket money to stop for wasted energy usage! (Lights left on in bedrooms!). 

It has made all of us think how much energy we are using.  The second image shows the read out when I switched on the kettle.  A good way to cut down on the boil time is to only boil the amount of water you need, not a full kettle.   I have also noticed a difference with different types of lights on.  Most of my house runs on energy efficient light bulbs but in the kitchen there are some halogen bulbs which use a lot more energy.  You can see the OWL read out with the halogen bulbs on below.  We will definatley  be looking into replacing them.  We have also taken to switching off all appliances that are on standby at the wall and again this has made quite a bit of difference.

This shows the amount of pence spent per hour with the lights on in the kitchen before the Kettle is switched on.

This shows how many pence per hour when the kettle is switched on.

This was the value with the halogen lights on.

This is the value when we switched them on a normal set of lights would be below 1p

Below shows the electricity reading with the TV and video on standby

You can see it is around 1.3pence per hour.  Below shows the reading when it is switched off.

When we switched off the appliances at the plug the value went down to 0.9p per hour. 

Apparently cutting your base energy usage by 1p per hour will save around £85 per year.  The Owl even shows your greenhouse gas emissions, optimum temperature and humidity also.

We were lent ours but they can be bought on the highstreet in shops such as Peter Jones and John Lewis or just search for them online.  (They should sell for around £30)


The wireless display unit is fed via a simple to fit transmitter which   clips around your electricity supply.  You set up The Owl by telling it how much your electricity supplier charges per kilowatt hour from your most recent bill.

You can buy your OWL from






Defra Carbon Footprint TV Ad

Defra’s TV ad is part of the department’s Act on CO2 campaign. Last month the department unveiled an online CO2 calculator  (see previous post about this here) to help people work out and reduce their carbon footprint.

The campaign follows Defra-commissioned research by ICM that found that while 66% of those surveyed said they were personally taking action to reduce climate change activities, only 43% mentioned cutting electricity use, and 14% cutting heating.

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Act on CO2 but what about China?

Today a new calculator to find out what your carbon footprint is has been launched.  Click the picture above to have a go. You will find out your footprint and get a personalised action plan to help you reduce your footprint.


Also today it has been announced that China is building on average 2 new power stations per week.  (BBC Article here).  You may ask yourself how can switching off all my lights and doing the small bit I do help when China is emitting vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere?  The answer is that we have exported our carbon emissions to China,  China are producing goods for the western markets and as the West was developing it didn’t have to worry about the emissions as no one understood the implications.  Perhaps we should look at ways to help China reduce emissions rather than blaming them and still continue with our efforts to reduce our own footprints.

New global warming video

This is a fantastic global warming video that will be usefull for year 8 when they will be studying global warming soon. GCSE classes can also make use of it for climate the environment and people unit.

The Big Melt

Check out this ITV site they are running a series of features this week on global warming and the Antarctic.  If you missed them don’t worry you can go to their web site below to watch some of their videos and take a quiz

click to go to site

Y8 Isle of Lewis Wind Farm Plans

Wind Turbine

A company that plans to build the worlds largest wind farm has resubmitted its plans. The reworked proposal has reduced the number of turbines from 234 to 181. There have been over 4000 objections to the proposals to build the worlds largest onshore wind farm which is to be located on the Isle of Lewis. The new proposal is hoped to reduce environmental concerns people have about the scheme.


location of turbines

The main objections to this proposal were from the RSPB.

The RSPB were today still very concerned about the risk of birds being killed by flying directly into the turbines. The wind farm is set to be located in a Specially Protected Area designated under European Law for its importance to wildlife. Many birds use the Peat Land habitat and Golden Eagles are known to fly in this area. The road and developments associated with this farm would result in more environmental damage being caused.

There are however positives to the wind farm as the residents of Lewis would gain a 15% stake in the wind farm and as employment is at a low on the  Island this would be welcomed by some residents. Lewis Wind Power predicts that some 400 jobs would be created during the manufacturing phase, with more once the wind farm is operaional.

Find out more about the proposed scheme and the different interest groups views by visiting

Lewis Wind Power – The company responsible for the proposal

Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) – To find out their views about the farm

BBC News article – about the effects a Norwegian Wind Farm has had on Eagle populations.

Interactive map of UK wind farms – Find out where other wind farms are located

Yes To Wind – a pro wind farm campaign

British Wind Association – another Pro wind farm site

National Wind Watch – an anti wind farm site

Country Guardian – another anti wind farm site

What do you think? What are the arguments? Should we build more wind farms or not? We will be studying this issue in year 8 next term.

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