Sunday, April 09, 2006

Green Light on EcoStreet for a Green Revolution

The BBC is asking the public for their green ideas and inventions for simple things that we can all do to reduce domestic energy consumption and household waste.

Also with the new "Being Green" series on Tuesday nights, is the BBC giving a green light on a green revolution? Or have Tony and Michael been having private words in the BBC board room?

This week the magazine looks at a vacuum flask kettle that keeps water hot for longer between boiling.

Perhaps a better solution might be to invest in a modern efficient kettle, that allows you to boil a minimum of just 1 mugfull of water at a time.

When we upgraded our kettle last October, we found it difficult to find a modern one that had a very low minimum water level - fine if you wanted one with flashing blue LEDS, the latest fashion in kitchen appliances. The best we could find at Comet, was this Morphy Richards, that has a 500ml minimum. That's about 2 teacups or for comparison a typical coffee mug is 300ml.

So unfortunately if you want your own brew, you are already obliged to add 67% more water than you actually need, and that uses 67% more energy than you need.

So how much energy does a kettle use for a typical brew up?

I used half a litre of cold tap water and plugged mine into my low cost Lidl's energy meter and turned it on. It used a maximum of 2862W when first switched on and settled down to 2800W for 80 seconds. It then continued to boil for another 7 seconds before the automatic cut off turned it off.

Energy = power x time = 2800 x 87 = 243600 J

This is 0.067 kWh or the same that a 100W light bulb would use in 40 minutes.

Had the kettle allowed me to boil just the 300ml I needed and switch off instantly on boiling, I would have used just 55% of the electricity - or the same 100W lightbulb for 22.4 minutes - quite a saving.

Now to check out the toaster - tea and toast anyone?

Thanks to Tracy Stokes and her EcoStreet Blog for leading me to this info.

Why can't we all live in EcoStreet?

We'll I am sure we can, but first we will have to start brewing a new batch of Community Spirit, that the successive governments of the last 27 years have effectively distilled out of us.

(Yes Margaret, I do mean you, you might be a dotty old bat now, but I remember what you and your psychotic henchmen did to the miners, UK industry and students in the early 1980s).

"Wouldn't it be nice to get on with me neighbours... but they've made it very clear, they got no room for savers..."

My apologies to the Small Faces, for the minor lyrical adjustments.

As a footnote to the kettle boiling experiments, I tried again this morning with only 300ml (1 mug) of water. It was boiling within 40 seconds - thus reducing the energy usage from yesterday by a factor of two! You have to stand over it whilst doing this and be ready to manually switch it off - because the automatic switch off may not be reliable with such low water levels. This may invalidate you kettle guarantee, and don't come running to me when you have reduced your kettle (and household) to a charred, smoking mass.

And who says a watched pot never boils?

1 comment:

Tracy said...

Thanks for the shout-out Ken. I've got a lovely EcoKettle from Nigel's EcoStore that you can fill to the top, but it only boils as many cups as you need. Here is a blog post about it.