‘Switch off TV, save 10 percent of your power bill’

By Joydeep Gupta, IANS,

Poznan (Poland) : Simple things like switching off your TV and computers, instead of keeping them on standby, can help save 10 percent of your electricity bill.

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“I don’t understand why people aren’t doing it,” says Diana Urge-Vorsatz, expert member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), referring to simple things that people can do every day to reduce power bills and fight climate change at the same time.

“It’s the little things that make the biggest difference, and they’re the cheapest things to do,” Urge-Vorsatz told IANS in an interview at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit.

“Simple things like switching off your TV sets and DVDs and computers instead of keeping them on standby can save at least 10 percent of electricity bills in industrialised countries, it has been proved. I expect the savings in developing countries to be larger.”

She is director of the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy at the Central European University in Budapest. She co-wrote the section on energy efficiency and specifically green buildings in the landmark Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC that was published last year and got the panel the Nobel Peace prize along with Al Gore.

“In the Fourth Assessment Report, we’ve made it so clear that energy efficiency is the most effective way for people to save money and combat climate change at the same time,” Urge-Vorsatz said.

Over 3,000 representatives from 186 national governments, gathered here for the Dec 1-12 Poznan summit, are spending hours and days talking about the transfer of greener technology to developing countries and how to find the financing for this.

Energy efficiency is hardly on the agenda even for the over 5,000 NGOs taking part in the summit here.

But improving energy efficiency, especially in buildings, has the potential to save more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the developing world than all other measures combined, Urge-Vorsatz said.

“And it’s low cost technology, the investment is returned in just a short while through lower power bills, and there are many things for which you don’t need any money at all,” said the IPCC expert. “All you need is a change in behaviour.”

Urge-Vorsatz said: “Technology transfer is not a major issue when we are talking of improving energy efficiency in buildings. They are all low-level technologies anyway, and they are easily available.”

Asked if she preferred that governments provide subsidies to people who, for example, wanted to put a solar panel on their terraces, Urge-Vorsatz said: “I prefer creative financing to subsidies. Subsidies create other problems. People know they will save on their electricity bills when they put up that solar panel. All we have to do is to give a soft loan which they can pay back out of that power bill saving.”

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])