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Wind can be a winning argument with voters

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People across the England and Wales will vote in local council elections today. On the back of a recent poll that showed over a third of the public will vote for candidates that adopt pro-wind stances, Jennifer Webber of RenewableUK writes how the technology can be a winning argument for councillors and politicians alike.

For a number of years now, there has been a myth thrown around by anti-wind groups that wind, in particular onshore wind, is unpopular with local communities and with voters. It is a myth that has helped them to gain credibility in certain parts of the media, and one which has resulted in some politicians believing that they need to shy away from supporting wind to gain favour with their constituents, despite both government and independent figures that consistently show high levels of support.

Results from yesterday’s ComRes poll into voter intentions may offer a new view on this.

What this recent polling helps to do is to puncture that myth and expose the emptiness of it. Ahead of today’s local elections, support for wind held up extremely well and showed that politicians are unlikely gain anything from jumping on an anti-wind bandwagon.

Over a third of voters said they would be more likely to back a candidate who supports building more wind farms, and only 24% said they would be less likely. The biggest percentage, 36%, said that wind farm developments would not make a difference to their vote.

The results get more revealing when broken down by party. UKIP has made a big deal of its opposition to wind, yet 23% of those who voted UKIP in 2010 actually said a local candidate backing wind would make it more likely that they would vote for them, with a further third saying it would make no difference to their vote.

With these results it is a surprise to me that Nigel Farage has developed this theory that opposing wind farms is a way of getting the masses of votes that will sweep UKIP in to town halls across Britain. He claims to be the only politician that speaks the truth on the issues affecting normal people in the UK, but when most people say they are more concerned with a lack of affordable housing than wind farms, he is on the wrong side of his own argument.

This perhaps points to the conclusion that local Tory candidates don’t need to go anti-wind in an attempt to stem a feared exodus of their voters to UKIP. In fact among Tory voters the figures point to views on wind farms being fairly evenly balanced between pro, anti and neutral, with each getting about a third of support.

So when Tory councillors and would-be councillors are knocking on people’s doors today trying to attempt them to get out and vote, they are only likely to knock on one door out of every three where they will find a Tory voter voicing anti-wind sentiments.

With parties often looking for female votes, it’s worth nothing that support for wind from a local candidate brings an overall gain of 12% of votes.

With both Labour and Lib Dem voters, the levels of support for wind at these elections stands firmly at around four out of 10 saying that a local candidate could help secure their vote with a pro-wind stance. While some might say that this is safer ground for these two parties, it is important to note in the case of both Labour and Lib Dem voters there were other issues that were much more likely to sway their vote.

All of these statistics begs one obvious question. Where are all the hordes of normal people who are fed of wind farms and want to banish them?

Other issues such as housing, immigration and tax are far more likely to provoke a lively reaction from people walking to the polling booths today than wind farms are. So maybe this means that some local and national politicians have made an error of judgement by putting opposition to wind as one of the main pillars of their political strategy.

The worry is that the main result of focusing on opposing wind rather than what people want to talk about is continued voter apathy.

Jennifer Webber is director of external affairs at RenewableUK, the trade and professional body representing the wind, wave and tidal energy industries.

Further reading:

Public will vote for candidates that support wind farms, says poll

Increase in support for renewable energy in government poll

Government poll charts major support of renewable energy

Renewables receive ‘unequivocal vote of confidence’ in poll

The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2012

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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