Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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23 Oct 2006

Energy: use less, save more by John Clift & Amanda Cuthbert. A Review and a Chance to Win a Copy!

**A Review of “Energy: Use Less, Save More” by Jon Clift & Amanda Cuthbert. Green Books, Totnes, Devon.**

energyThis excellent little book’s eighty-four pages offer 100 tips for saving energy around the home. Highly readable, it covers all aspects of energy use in our lives, cooking, heating, keeping things cool, washing the dishes and so on. Its tips are all practical measures that you can go and do as soon as you have finished reading. It is designed to have a mainstream appeal, and its solutions appeal to that market. For example, the section on keeping things cool is full of excellent tips on making the most of your fridge/freezer, but it nowhere suggests that perhaps you might get rid of the fridge altogether, and use a larder and a stone bowl with water and a wet cloth instead.

Its section on renewables is brief but gives a good overview of the options. The important point about energy conservation, and it is a point a bit too controversial for a book such as this, is that while energy efficiency is an essential starting point, and needs to be undertaken in every aspect of our lives with the grewatest urgency, it is not enough on its own. While as a society we are increasingly efficient in terms of the amount of energy consumed by our appliances, we have a lot more appliances than we ever had before. Accordingly, if we insulate the loft and put in low energy bulbs, thereby saving ourselves £400 over the year, what do we do with that money? Will we invest it in tree plantings, or in local powerdown developments? Or will we buy a plasma screen TV or take a weekend break to Prague? Unfortunately most of us do the latter, and our individual carbon footprints continue to grow.

As a straightforward, practical book on energy saving measures, this is excellent, the best I have yet seen. It would be wonderful stocking filler to tuck at the end of energy guzzling relatives beds on Christmas morning. It is a great book to leave around for people to pick up, even just flicking through it gives the reader lots of useful information and practical ideas. While a short section at the end setting out some ideas as to what you could now do with the money the tips in the book have saved you might have sown a few useful seeds, I would highly recommend this as one book on practical energy saving tips that you really need.


**Win a Copy of “Energy – use less, save more.”**


**Transition Culture** has 5 copies of this excellent new publication to give away, thanks to those good people at Green Books. To enter, simply email the answer to the following question by 10am on Friday 15th October. **What uses more energy, a laptop computer or a desktop computer?**

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


23 Oct 7:34pm

I would be very interested in the alternate materials you suggested- larders and bowls of water for cooling, etc.

Please describe a larder as to actual construction. What other ideas do you have? Maybe we should all write in with the “radical” energy saving solutions?

How about the old fashioned cheese bell? This is a marble bottom with a heavy glass bell top. The marble stays cool, the glass top slows oxidation and keeps mice and insects out. I keep butter in mine, on the kitchen table.

How about bread boxes, cold cellars, non-electric kitchen tools, grain grinders, etc. etc.?

I would LOVE to see a book about the less mainstream, and more long term solutions!!!

24 Oct 12:06pm

I have had quite a few discussions with people about what sustainability actually means. Everyone has a different opinion, and there seems to be no definitive answer. One point i try to make in these discussions is that no matter what humans do in terms of renewable energy or efficiency, there still is a need for mitigation.

For example, building a wind farm takes a huge amount of resources (concrete, steel, fossile fuel, to name but a few). It’s great that once constructed the energy produced is from a natural and self-sustaining source, but some of that energy produced has to go back into mitigating measures to account for the environmental damage/disruption/entropy created through the entire life cycle of the wind farm.

I think it is the same at any level. A person may buy an energy saving light bulb, i did this for my new house the other day, but this still means we are causing environmental impact, only less than other light bulbs. And as you say, those savings have to be reinvested back into mitigation.

I think a culture transition should go down the road of taking direct ownership for mitigation by each indervidual for their entire life cycle and life style. One simpel exampel could be each child at school should plants a tree and care for that tree through their entire life.

The problem with many energy efficiency matters on a personal level is the lack of a visible close loop system. Instead as an individual we are all too often just part of the consumer chain. I think your work on relocalisation is vital in order to help people re-establish their perspective on the life cycle of their consumerables.