Simple everyday ways of saving energy and money

Replace a conventional light bulb with a low-energy light bulb and within a year you’ll have avoided 400 cubic meters of emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect and have saved 17,000 drachmas (almost 50 euro). Shower with solar-heated rather than electrically heated water and you’ll avoid sending three kilos of carbon dioxide into the air. Lower the temperature of the boiler in your apartment building by just one degree and you’ll reduce fuel consumption by 7 percent. These are just a few of the steps you can take to conserve energy while protecting the environment and your own budget. Greece has a contradictory attitude to the greenhouse effect. Machi Sideridou, who is in charge of the campaign by the Greek branch of the environmental organization Greenpeace to halt climatic change, explains: «In theory, Greece is in favor of taking measures to prevent climatic change, but in practice, it has been a resounding failure. What is needed to tackle the problem are radical changes to the energy model, and small everyday steps we can all take.» Replacing light bulbs Though the government may not be doing what it should, we can still make a difference through our own actions. «The next time you go to turn on the light,» says Sideridou, «think twice. By this simple action you may be wasting money and contributing to climatic change without realizing it.» Only 10 percent of the energy consumed by conventional light bulbs is used for illumination. The remaining 90 percent produces heat which is lost. But new, low-wattage light bulbs are now readily available; they use 4-5 times less energy and last 8-15 times as long. They are more expensive – around 5,000 drachmas (15 euro) each, but save so much energy that they pay for themselves in just a few months. A new technology 20W bulb can replace a conventional 100W bulb; it is just as bright but uses one-fifth the amount of electricity. Offering incentives If these light bulbs are to become general use, the public must be informed and incentives must be offered, so that the initially higher cost is not an obstacle. In 1996-98, following pressure from Greenpeace, the government implemented a pilot program to replace light bulbs in Crete, Thrace and the Aegean Islands. Consumers were able to buy low-wattage bulbs at relatively low prices and pay them off in installments that were included in their electricity bills. Though the program was not well designed, 120,000 light bulbs were replaced. Greenpeace says that if the program were redesigned and continued, one million light bulbs in domestic residences could be replaced within the space of a few months.