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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Power tour

Nicola, Pete, Lola and Nell want to travel the world with a difference. We hope to get a taste of loads of countries without adding to climate change (with needless emissions from aeroplanes) or having to waste hours of holiday time in airport terminals. We hope our adventures inspire you to take a Grand Tour of your neighbourhood. This post is from Nicola.

Part of our Grand Tour will include counting the hundreds, yes hundreds, of wind turbines generating renewable electricity along the coast and skyline of the Barrow – Carlisle railway. This area is also home to Sellafield’s nuclear reprocessing plant and the Drigg nuclear waste dump. In this part of the Lake District there are strong feelings about the best ways of generating electricity that is clean, green, sustainable and will reduce the carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) which are causing our climate to change. The nuclear industry is a big employer in the area and we are looking forward to going to the Sellafield visitor centre to see how the industry’s operators can explain away the problem of having toxic waste that lasts for years? Had the Romans stationed along Hadrian’s Wall been using nuclear power, their waste sites would still be toxic all these centuries later.

At home we already have an electricity tariff provided by Good Energy because it is one of the few companies that only generates electricity from renewable sources. Good Energy http://www.good-energy.co.uk/ gets its supply from wind turbines. As all power companies have an obligation to produce some renewably generated power (eg, from the sun, water or wind) it means that whoever you buy your electricity from can offer you a "green" tariff. If you only do one thing to tackle climate change buying renewably generated electricity is a great decision.

Even with a renewable electricity supplier there is still more that we can do to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions our home produces. When we moved in I applied for a 50 per cent matching grant (approx #200) to insulate the loft. Roof insulation is just like having hair or wearing a hat: it keeps you warmer. You can tell which houses in your street are not losing a quarter of their heat through the roof because they are the ones which retain the snow for longest during those very few snowy days in winter/spring.

We’re also vigilant home energy efficiency freaks thanks to a combo of draught proofing, thermostat reducing, timer setting and jumper wearing measures. We also have double glazed most of the windows.

Next step is to add solar panels to the south facing roof so that the sun will heat up our water rather than the gas boiler. Unfortunately there is a lot of administrative pain to get to this solar gain – partly the time it takes trying to find an installer (although our local Energy Advice Centre helped) but also completing the council’s planning permission. At least six, multi-page forms need to be completed and then submitted in quadruple quantity. It’s a horrible task, and it takes ages. But if done then the council offers a grant covering a third of the cost of the solar panels (approx #1,000); our energy bills go down again (especially good if the price of gas goes up) and we know that our home’s carbon footprint is cut as the amount of CO2 emissions it releases shrink, whatever the weather and whoever is housesitting in it for us.

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