When one homeowners efforts don’t feel like enough.

I’m starting to get a little worried with the language some renewable energy champions are using.
Phrases  like “getting to know your power company” and “taking a greater interest in where our power is delivered from”… Like I (and thousands of others have a choice?)
Here’s what I’ve been trying to get my head around:
I live in a pleasant terraced street, near a picturesque Derbyshire town centre.
My house is surrounded by neighbouring properties, amongst large leafy trees so not a lot of sunlight ever falls directly onto our roofs – this rules out solar panels.
The garden is more of a patio’d yard – certainly not big enough to install ground source heat pumps etc.
A wind turbine is obviously out of the question on a personal or even street level and I wonder how the town’s important tourism industry would suffer if the neighbouring hill sides were covered in large plain wind turbines.
There are several brooks and rivers nearby which could be ‘harvested’ to provide some form of hydro power.

“Who’s going to pay for that?”
But who’s going to pay for that? Will I and my neighbours have to pay more on top of already spiralling energy costs?
I travel 40 miles (each way) to work very day – I’ve looked at using a bus (there’s no direct rail connection) but it takes twice as long and still involves a 20 min walk from the city centre to my work. That’s assuming they run on time.
So my car is still the most cost effective means for me (if i don’t what to be cycling 3 hours each way).
It’s not a hybrid – not even a diesel; such options require more ‘ready cash’ than is available to our household at present, and given the local weather in winter, I’m thinking I’d gladly swap for a guzzling 4×4 just to feel a little more secure when driving in the Winter months (where snow does fall!).
And why would I want to get to know my energy company? In my experience, they’re all pretty much the same. Happy to take your money, swap tariffs and charges with a frequency that only a person who’s responsible for changing the prices per litre at a petrol station would be able to keep up with.
Sure they’ll send you a few energy saving bulbs once a year but that’s about it in reality.
I’m trying to imagine cosy chats with a posse of energy providers explaining the merits of their energy over others. Hmm.

“where does my power come from – I’ve no idea”
As to where does my power come from – I’ve no idea. Outside of the wall socket or light switch it could just as easily be coming from the moon. I’m the consumer here. I don’t need to know which country the steel originated from that went into my shiny new car when I go to buy one, and would it make any difference anyway if I did know? No – I didn’t think so.
What is happening (I think) is that certain energy companies are trying to win customers by claiming their energy is produced from greener sources than others. So by choosing these companies, we’re effectively putting our own weight to a green sustainable energy future? Doing our bit for the planet – I hope so.
And if these companies are publicly committed to investing more and more into renewable sources, in  turn delivering more renewable derived energy to the end consumer then that’s really good isn’t it?
And assuming I change energy provider – what happens in a few months time when suddenly they’re not as good value or as cheap as the competition?
So you see my quandary – one I suspect shared by the majority (if they even care. I care) – what do I do? I am aware that to sit back and do nothing isn’t really an option, but what are the alternatives? Short of turning the kids pop-corn maker into a DIY nuclear fusion generator, or stumbling across a way of powering the whole street just by stringing a few speed humps across the road (they’ll never notice – the road is so full of potholes anyway) that produce a wonder kinetic energy source, I feel somewhat helpless.
And before anyone starts on about energy efficiency, yes the loft is insulated, no we don’t have any double glazing (can’t afford it) and the walls are 2 feet thick derbyshire stone and not insulated and if I fit any more draught excluder, I’ll have shares in it, and we are adopting a more ‘walk and shop often’ rather than ‘one massive weekly shop that has to involve a car’.

“I want to be responsible”
So as you can see my head’s in a bit of a spin. I want to be responsible, I’m taking my own small steps – I’m a bugger for switching off lights around the home – even when someone’s still in the room (even though I don’t feel my steps are  ultimately contributing much), and i live in a property that would require thousands to make it more energy efficient (like much of the neighbouring properties, nay most of the town).
My friend (who’s always been able to speak his mind) said once – “all those flint built churches you see around the countryside. They should all be pulled down. Building a simple hall structure using modern materials would eliminate all that fund-raising over night”.
I see where he was coming from and it may be an option for cash strapped governments faced with an ageing housing stock that can’t be upgraded any better than it is now. I for one would hate to see our stone built victorian semi knocked to the ground for some cheap pre-fab replacement. That is until the first winter fuel bill arrives.
What say you?
Jonathan.
photo credit: gluemoon

p.s that’s not me doing the break-dancing.

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