• The average household wastes around £37 each year by leaving appliances on standby – across the UK this is equivalent to the annual output of about 2½ 700MW power stations!
• Households in the UK now waste around 10% of their electricity bill on standby power.
• The average household has up to 12 gadgets left on standby or charging at any one time.
Source: Energy Saving Trust
Switch appliances off at the wall… we all could do it, but what proportion of people actually do, and what impact does this simple oversight have on the world we live in? Also, who wants to crawls about under the desk at the end of the working day or at home to get to the sockets to turn off the PC, the printer, the scanner, etc. and, to a degree, the same is true with the TV, Hi-Fi, etc. Often the sockets are actually behind the very units that house the appliances. The Energy Saving Trust’s “Habits of Lifetime” survey concludes that 71% of householders admit to leaving appliances on standby. Surely in a world of climate change we all have a social responsibility to do the best to protect our environment and the world we live in for our children?
Domia has created a product that is both simple and affordable for consumers.
Bye Bye Standby is a brand new energy saving and cost cutting solution designed for both home and office use. A clever combination of smart sockets and a wireless remote control enables users to cut power to any appliance consuming energy in standby mode at the simple touch of a button.
An independent test confirms that a family of four using three Bye Bye Standby devices could save around £38 per annum (the price of this kit, if I understand that correctly) – a result directly in line with the claim made by the Energy Saving Trust. Furthermore, if the majority of UK households were to adopt this energy saving kit, then we could save around 8.4 TWh of energy (about half the potential output power of a coal-fired power station).
E2 Energy Solutions Expo 2007 at Olympia saw the launch of the Bye, Bye, Standby Office Energy Savings Kit”.
This is, basically the upgrade, so to speak, from the “Bye, Bye, Standby Energy Savings Kit” for the home environment, which has been on the market now for a little while already.
While the domestic kit come with just three plug in devices and a small remote control the office version comes with four devices and both the remote and the plug in devices are a little meatier than the domestic units.
During my visit to the show and the stand of “ Bye, Bye, Standby/Domia Ltd.” I was kindly given (my thanks to Judy Wakelin for providing the kit) a domestic version of the kit which is good enough for the purpose of the review and for continued use in my small home office.
The installation, is one can call it thus, just could not have been more simple. The little socket device gets plugged into the mains outlet (or into a power strip as I have done) and you can then control, using a power strip, safely, up to four devices, e.g. Monitor, TV, scanner, printer, etc.
I must admit that I have plugged a strip into the device with six devices connected and that too works well (though I would not recommend that to the amateur). The power rating is 4 amps and scanner, powered USB hub, monitor (LCD), external DVD burner, speakers and external hard disc drive, I doubt, will ever get anywhere near that kind of load of 4 amps.
Up to now, I have to confess, those devices, with the exception of the external hard drive, always remained on, and all remained on at their power supplies. The scanner could not ever be turned off physically as it has not even got a power on/off switch. Silly construction, I know. We must never forget that any power supply (mains adaptor) when left plugged into a mains outlet uses power, and nearly as much as it the units themselves were running. They also tend to get very hot.
As said, fixing them was child's play and so is using them. With devices like these available – OK, they are not cheap – you have now no excuse for leaving things unnecessarily switched on. The kit will pay for itself in a least a year, I am sure, through the saving you make in electricity costs. And not only that. You are helping the environment too.
There is but one problem with the green credentials of this gadget and that is the blister packaging that it comes in, aside from the fact that it is a struggle to get into the packaging, as it appears to be of the usual kind of plastic this stuff is made from which, as far as I am led to believe by the waste managers of several Councils, is non-recyclable. Would it, therefore, not be better to package the product in a box made from post-consumer recycled cardboard, which breaks down in the soil, making it thereby home compostable? We have far too much of this kind of packaging around as it goes and especially for a product that is designed to help reduce one's carbon footprint environmentally friendly packaging, I think, should be a must.
Now, what's stopping you from doing your part to cut down your electricity consumption? Go out and get a kit or two and make your home more energy efficient in this way.
© M V Smith, October 2007
I did say that we were going to revisit those pedals from time to time so here is a short interim report:
Having now used the Pedalite pedals for several mornings and evenings in the dark or semi-dark I must say that I am quite impressed (and let me stress that I do not impress easily) with those pedals. Other people also have commented on them rather positively with interest and maybe I should be carrying some kind of information cards on me to give people a link to purchasing them.
The flashes are very bright and powerful while riding and continue for about three to five minutes once pedal movement has ceased, such as when the cycle is in a stationary position.
It would appear – with my review sample set at least – that the white, forward facing LED switches off after about three minutes when stationary while the amber colored one (side) and the red one (rear facing) continue for another one to two minutes.
In addition to that I find that the ride with the Pedalite pedals appear to be smoother underfoot – so to speak – that it has been with the previous set of pedals that I have had one that bike.
Review by M V Smith – October 2007
Pedalite, the brilliant new pedals that could save your life! Battery-free 360° visibility pedal lights of the fit and forget kind.
During my visit to the Cycle Show 2007 I was kindly given a set of Pedalite pedals for review and on Wednesday, October 17, 2007 I finally got around to fitting those innovative pedals to my general bicycle, an oldish Raleigh Pioneer Classic, one that has still been hand-built in Nottingham.
The fitting was an absolute doddle once I had managed to get the old, and by now well past use-by date, pedals that I was in fact still using on that bike off. I know I should have had new ones fitted a long time ago as the reflectors had all, bar one, broken off but I never got around to doing so. Thanks to Chris Stimpson from Pedalite International Ltd. who kindly provided the review set there now are new pedals on that cycle and I shall report a little more in due course on how they work and ride in day-to-day use. (So stay tuned for those little reports over the next couple of months).
Pedalite Pedals are the unique battery-free pedal lights that have been designed to make cyclists more visible to motorists, day and night, from a distance of 1km away and from any angle, including the side. As soon as you start pedalling the Pedalites uniquely harvest and store a small amount of energy so the lights continue to flash when the cyclist is freewheeling or has stopped at a road junction.
75% of cycling accidents happen at, or near, a road junction [Source RoSPA 2005], where cycles need to be seen from the side. Pedalites help cyclists create their own virtual cycle lane as motorists naturally give cyclists with Pedalite Pedals more space through a wider berth and distance, increasing their safety.
The pedals are made of DuPont nylon (used by the aerospace industry) giving exceptional strength and durability. When the cyclist starts pedalling a small and unnoticeable amount of their kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy which is used to light small diode ‘bulbs’ that flash at fraction-of-a-second intervals. The rest is stored in the capacitor to provide up to five minutes of flashing light when pedalling stops.
Pedalite Pedals are used in 22 countries around the world. They are used by emergency services, including multiple police forces, commuters, school children, students, cycle clubs, government departments, and cycling enthusiasts.
Major blue chip companies and ‘Bike to Work’ schemes are also offering them to their employees as part of their corporate social responsibility programme.
With no batteries required, recycled cardboard packaging and efforts to keep the carbon footprint as low as possible, being seen while cycling does not have to harm the environment.
The lights retail online at www.pedalite.com at £34.99 and they are also available from good cycle shops in the UK and overseas. For more information see the company's website at www.pedalite.com.
Review by M V Smith, October 2007
Says Compassion in World Farming… Well, now I have heard it all.
We always knew, at least those of us that are not blind to the things that are going on around then and to the signs, that there are moves afoot for a long time to force all people into becoming vegetarians. Why this is and what the hidden agenda behind this is is still something that is a little unclear but definitely, so it appears, the target is to “covert”, by hook or by crook or by force, everyone in the world, in time, and it would appear that they are in a rush, to being vegetarians.
If it is not health benefits that are being banded about to entice people into vegetarianism then it is poor animals that are being used, in as, is it not cruel to slaughter those animals for food. No, in fact it is not for that is the very reason that all those animals are alive for in the first place. They would not even exist would it not for the fact that people want to have them on their dinner plates. Wakey, wakey, all of you vegetarians and vegans out there. Now they jump on the “climate change” bandwagon. So, what, pray next. None of them has any integrity and honesty and they still keep their agenda hidden.
Wake up! If all the people in the world suddenly would become vegetarians what do you all think would happen to the chickens, cows, heifers, sheep, pigs and what-have-you that are being kept for no other reason that to go on people's plates? They would be killed and destroyed. No two ways about it.
Also, what are you going to do to keep the crops we then would have to grow safe from all the deer and all those that would be after our veggies? We would have to kill the deer and rabbits that are after our corn and cabbages, etc. So, would it not be better if we would then eat them too, so they would not get wasted.
It would seem, however, that reality is not something that those people deal in. They are in a world of cute furry critters without the faintest idea of how nature works. About time they woke up and smelled the flowers in the real world.
I agree that we all, probably, eat far too much meat than is good for us. The obesity of many of our fellow travelers on this planet, especially in countries like UK and the USA, proves the point and our parents and grandparents during World War II in Britain under rations ate healthier, much healthier, than we do now and they worked harder, much harder then, and still they did not keel over for lack of energy from food. They seemed to have gotten the right amount and right combination. Maybe we should dig up the old recipes from the British WWII home front once again and also, maybe, take some other lessons from the same book, such as in frugality and such. Our planet would benefit from it as would our wallets and our bodies, instead of blaming the eating of meat and the raising of for climate change.
© M V Smith, October 2007
The world's largest wind farm, which has been planned for the North Sea off the coast of Kent, UK, for some time has now finally been officially approved. However, the project, which is being planned by Eon and Shell energy companies, is being threatened by an increase and projected costs, and possible regulatory problems with transmitting the power.
A substation and the power cables necessary to transport the power to population centers are being fought by locals. At the same time, the projected cost of the project has increased from £1.5bn to £2bn.
Locals are are not, so it is claimed, interested in having the 340 turbine project in their back yard, but the UK needs to focus on these massive renewable projects in order to meet it's Kyoto targets. Without them, it simply won't happen.
The amazing thing, so to speak, is that some people always manage to get public opposition stirred against such projects and those that do the stirring are, invariably, members from organizations that are, supposedly, concerned with the environment and are supposed to be all for alternative, renewable energy, such as Greenpeace of Friends of the Earth. They are all for it, it would seem, when it is in other countries but as soon as it is here and in one or the other's backyard then they hit out against it. We cannot, I am afraid to say, have it both ways.
This is the same when it comes to waste incineration projects that will generate electric power while burning rubbish. Again and again the likes of Friends of the Earth and such will stand against this saying that we must recycle instead of incinerating. Yes, that is true. We must recycle what we can recycle but there will always be some left that cannot be recycled and this will either have to go into holes in the ground, of which we are running out of or indeed have run out of, or it must be burned. This is being done in other countries, such as Germany, Sweden, etc. and – strangely enough – there seem to be no problems there and no protests, in the main, against such projects. However, as soon as they appear on the horizon anywhere in the UK those people are there campaigning against those projects instead of making some real positive input. A little less negative attitude and some more positive stances and suggestions would be nice – I am not holding my breath, however, waiting for such moves.
© M V Smith, October 2007
With more and hopefully still more bicycles coming back into use for personal transport, the trade of a bicycle mechanic is definitely one that is surely going to make a comeback; it just has to.
While many shops, the likes of Halfords, Argos, and many others, are rather good in selling – often “cheap” - bicycles they just about can assemble such bikes to make them ready for the sale and just about – and I do stress “just about” - ready for the road. Most do not appear to have “properly” trained cycle mechanics capable of doing a proper service (yes, bicycles should also have a regular service, either carried out by a capable owner or best still a capable mechanic) and especially capable of actually building, rebuilding and repairing a bike, especially an older one. You take your car to a trained mechanic, often one trained specifically for your make of car, and not to old Joe round the corner who likes to tinker with motors, or to the local grocers, don't you. So why then do so many trust their lives into the hands – and that is what they do if they take the bike on the road and have no idea as to how it has been repaired and whether the job was done proper, etc. - of people who are just a little above amateurs?
With the government(s) trying to get people to get on their bikes again for personal transport in order to reduce the country's overall carbon footprint people will be needed again capable to keep bicycles running and especially roadworthy. Not every cyclist is a bicycle “geek” and capable of doing the technical bits all themselves. The ordinary businessman wanting to use the bike to commute may just about be capable of fixing a puncture himself. So, bicycle mechanics will be needed again and many of them we will need.
While the sales of bicycles are increasing the actual number of real bicycle mechanics appears not to be able to keep pace with it; in fact they seem to be in decline.
Help, however, is at hand by way of a proper training agency that trains people up to be cycle mechanics and that to a very high standard.
WELDTECH, part of WELDTITE Products Ltd. (www.weldtite.co.uk) offers professional bicycle mechanic courses for shops and workshops, as well as for the ordinary general public. These are NVQ kind of courses but to a far higher standard of proficiency – though government funds do not appear to be available to take any of those courses. Maybe the government needs to wake up to the fact that if they want people to get on their bikes and use cycles as personal mode of transport, at least for around town, to the shops and journeys under, say, four miles, they must find a way of aiding the creation, for lack of a better word, of skilled and thoroughly trained and competence-checked bicycle mechanics. Without such technicians the entire idea will not be workable, unless the government also sees a way of making money (yes, I am a cynic) out of people, when a bike no longer properly works, throwing it and buying a new one. In theory with some of the cheap ones that are coming in from the Far East, such as China, with prices as low as £70 for a about-town/light off-road bike, this is possible feasible, as repairs might work out more expensive than purchasing new. But, where does that again leave the carbon footprint?
In addition to this Weldtite designs and produces a large range of bicycle specific tools. Many of those tools are entirely new developments and designs by members of their own team.
I cannot say as to whether Weldtite is the only company/agency that offers courses for bicycle mechanics but, from what I have seen, they seem to be one of the best if not the best on the market.
© M V Smith, October 2007
On Friday, October 12, 2007 the day was finally here when yours truly managed to visit the Cycle 2007 cycle show at Earls Court 1 in London and I must say that a great number of new innovations for those of us that cycle to work and for general getting around town and country, e.g. for those of us who use the bicycle as a means of alternative carbon neutral and green mode of transport, were about on that show.
Of some of those I shall be bringing you information and product reviews over the next couple of weeks or so and I hope to be receiving some more products for review also.
As a service to you, the reader, I pledge that any reviews will be honest and if a product is not up to standard in any way, shape or form, this journal shall tell you so.
I was, obviously, not so much as looking at bicycles in the way of a piece of, often hightec, sports equipment and those of the extreme mountain bike kind but rather as to how and what for bikes were intended, namely as a means of personal transportation for the masses, and here I was also especially on the lookout for those innovations that make the carrying of good and children a possibility. Needless to say those were indeed found.
Also and especially my interest was for bicycles for the commuter; those that want to go all the way from home to work directly as well as those that want to ride a bike to their departure station nearest to home, then take the bike on a train and at their destination station get off with the bike and continue their journey by their bicycle to their place of work.
Here the range of folding bikes was very impressive, from very low-cost ones of the Explorer range provided by Deep Blue Sky (www.deepbluesky.eu) beginning at just about £60 to those from a variety of other manufacturers and distributors ranging all the way up to the best part of £2,700, as the most expensive, by Riese und Müller, from Darmstadt, in Germany, distributed in the UK by Alan Davidson (email@example.com).
On the other hand what I believe is most interesting for us here, I am sure, are workhorse bicycles for personal transport and there a couple of companies stand out, and two most especially, as the bikes are made in a time proven style and a time-honored manner, and in one instance are hand-built in Britain.
Those companies are Velorbis from Denmark (www.velorbis.co.uk / www.velorbis.dk) whose cycles are made in Germany - hand-built, so I am led to believe - with all German and/or Scandinavian parts, and the other being Pashley Classic Bicycles (www.pashley.co.uk), whose bicycles are hand-built in the UK. Both are in the time-proven style harking back to the good old days of cycling and are sturdy cycles with modern dynamo lights and real saddles, made from real leather with springs as in the old days, giving a ride as a should be, free of pains in the rear. I must admit that I was drooling over the bikes on both stands and would dearly love to own one of either range, seeing that I do not own or drive a motorcar.
Another interest was, obviously, protection from the weather and visibility and security, and there everything could be found as well, and one other the other product shall be reviewed here in due course. One will be a rather novel piece of rain gear and the others will be on safety lights for the bike in order to be seen and therefore, hopefully, be safe on the road.
© M V Smith, October 2007
Last Wednesday, October 10, 2007, saw The Building Services Event at Grand Hall, at London's Olympia Exhibition Center, which I attended primarily as the DG of the Romani Institute but also in my capacity of the Editor of the Green Living Review. The latter to see as to whether there was anything in the way of Green Living, such as Energy Saving, Carbon Footprint Reduction, Renewable Energy, Recycling, etc. innovations and such that might be worth reporting in the Green Living Review. Well, there were.
Some interesting things were found and a review or two on some products/services may be forthcoming in the next week or so.
So, don't go away too far...
M V Smith
Trash bag 'Tax' proposed and trialled
Householders who throw out more than one sack of rubbish each week may be forced to pay for extra bags, it was revealed on Saturday, October 6, 2007.
In a six-month pilot scheme trialled by Broxbourne Council in Hertfordshire aimed at encouraging residents to recycle more, householders will be provided with 26 specially colour-coded bin bags - one for each week.
On its website the council said it hopes to reduce the rubbish put out by each household by 1.5kg per week and increase recycling by the same amount.
But the scheme is not gone down well with some residents.
BT worker Jack Jerome, 54, told the Daily Mail: "I have a large family with children and grandchildren at the house all the time. We do recycle but we still produce five or six bags of rubbish a week.
"We already pay £138 a month in council tax and this looks like more tax by the back door."
He said that it could end up costing him and his family up to £60 a year in extra bin bags.
This latest initiative to boost recycling and cut waste comes after criticism earlier this year of councils switching to "alternate" collections, in which rubbish is picked up on a fortnightly basis alternating with recycling collections.
The Government defended the alternate collections against concerns that they encouraged rats and disease and said councils which had introduced them had much higher recycling rates.
All one can say to this is that it is a load of rubbish – pardon the pun – but we have come to expect such from central government and its local clones, whatever their party colors.
Instead of making people recycle more people are just going to use black refuse sacks for anything over the “one bag a week quota” that they have generated in rubbish and dump said black sacks in the countryside, some woods or farmer's field, in parks and open spaces and such like.
This, far from doing anything for the environment is going to achieve just the opposite, namely lots of fly tipping and will only make matters worse.
Not that the politicians and such sitting in their ivory towers would ever see or notice this. They just see less refuse that the crews of the dust carts are collecting and which goes through the waste transfer site and therefore, more than likely, assume that people are recycling. It is all about targets yet again. Get real folks! And who is responsible of cleaning us the fly tipped refuse in farmer's fields and such? The victims themselves though this may include the local authority if it is their parks that are used as dumping grounds.
Rather than penalizing residents who may not be able to recycle – for various reasons – or who indeed generate a great deal of non-recyclable refuse the governments should give people incentives to recycle, such as, for example, reverse vending machines – they work in the USA – or manned stations where aluminum cans and glass bottles (and maybe even plastic ones) could be returned to for cash, reduction in refuse collection costs, or other similar methods.
I know that, while reverse vending machines do work in the USA politicians, no doubt would claim that they could never work in Britain as Britain is different. The very same excuse that they use in regards of Britain putting stumbling blocks in the way of people wishing to have micro-generating stations and selling back to the grid at a proper rate.
Also, not every household has a car with which they can take things to the “Recycling Centers” nor is every household served by Kerbside Recycling Units.
This central government and its local clones, however, instead of giving people incentives to recycle are all about yet another way of raising revenue.
Encourage and enable people to recycle and reward those that do instead of punishing those that do not or who maybe cannot. But that does not generate money to be spent elsewhere.
© M V Smith, October 2007