Transition Culture

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

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15 Apr 2012



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1 Comment

Adrian Hepworth
18 Apr 6:24pm

I was recently given a digital tyre pressure guages by the Energy Saving Trust and whilst I don’t mean to be ungrateful, this gift angered me and endorsed my concern that there are well meaning companies out there that have, like Lego, somehow missed the point. This comment formed a letter to the Trust to which I have yet to have a reply/explanation.

I understood that ‘energy saving’ is a brave attempt to control global warming and climate change by reducing the amount of energy we all use. This reduction of energy use would alleviate the damage done by excess CO2 in the atmosphere that is causing the rise of global temperature. Hopefully advice from companies such as yours (EST) would slow the damage still being done by the world population’s continual addiction to consumerism and its use of fossil fuels. I thought that the whole idea of energy saving was to reduce our use and dependance on oil and materials derived from it.

The pressure guage is wrong on several levels.

It is packeged in clear plastic, a petrochemical material, that can only be removed by its destruction, so becoming useless. It might have become a container for keeping the guage in? Instead it becomes landfill because recycling collections currently do not collect such plastic. It does not carry the recycling imprint so may not even be recycleable? This plastic is unecessary, not reuseable and if burnt or left in landfill will release those very gases the product it contains is supposed to save. ‘Act on CO2’, whose logo is printed on the encapsulated card, does not mean creating more of it for no other reason than publicicty.

The guage itself is uneccesarily complicated and could be described as pointless. What good is it if you check your car tyres and find their pressures are too low, increasing fuel consumption and CO2 production. You instantly want to pump them up. For this the obvious choice is a pump,

When I received the gauge I dug out my bicycle dial pressure gauge which incidentally came wired to a card, not encapsulated in plastic. It has lasted me at least 15 years without the need for replacement batteries. It doesn’t need them! Could you guarantee the life of the digital version that needs numerous non-renewable materials in its construction and batteries that may contain mercury, a deadly and accumulative poison.

However I went to a local bike shop to see how much these gauges were. To my surprise neither the two local bike or the car accessory shops sold pressure gauges. Why? Because nearly all pumps, whether double barreled foot pumps, stirrup pumps or small clip on bicycle pumps all have their own pressure gauge built in.

If anyone feels competant enough to check and adjust their own vehicle tyre pressures, they will be using a pump with a built in gauge. Admittedly their accuracy is not guaranteed but I compared a Halfords electric pump with the dial gauge and they matched within 1psi. Not even a garage forecourt pump will guarantee the accuracy of their pump gauges.

On a practical level the instructions on the back of the packaging say “slide the switch down” but without hacking my way through the packaging, I can only see a single button which can be pressed through the packaging without effect. What has surprised me is that I have often just picked up the still packaged gauge and it has turned on, illuminating the nozzle and the display with blue light but after several attempts we have failed to find out which movement elicits this response.

To be fair there may be a sliding switch on the back but if the button is to zero the display or held so it can be read in clear light rather than by squinting under the wheel arch of a possibly wet and muddy car then surely its intended use should be described in the instructions.

Whilst the wrritten advice on the packaging is sound, the overall effect of the product is to increase consumerism and waste energy. The choice of product should have been better advised. If your name (EST) is to be believed, can you be trusted to save energy?

Adrian Hepworth

P.S. To save energy, what should I do with the still unopened gauge?