We’re always heartened to hear of local projects benefitting from international inspiration here at blog HQ. Its nigh-on essential that we’re sharing what’s worked – and indeed, what hasn’t – if we’re to change behaviours and move towards a more sustainable way of doing things.
We especially like it when the connection seems a little odd at first glance – like traditional wet Wales getting inspiration from draught-prone Australia on how to manage water use.
But that’s just what’s happening with Energy Saving Trust Cymru’s BywCraff Caerdydd – or LivingWise Cardiff for non-Welsh speakers.
Energy and water efficiency advice is moving away from general advice on a reactive basis towards really tailored, personalised, home-by-home guidance on a local level.
For this project, we’ve used examples from as far afield as Ipswich (England, that is – there’s one in Queensland you know), where a successful energy and waste scheme swept the town, as well as of course our Aussie cousins, who have seen reductions in water use of between 7 and 21 per cent through similar approaches.
It’s not all about water use alone though – it’s about connecting it directly with energy use in the minds of households – specifically, 1,000 of them in the Rhiwbina area of north Cardiff.
What’s the area got that’s of so much interest to us, you may ask? Quite simply, high water and energy use, and high levels of water metering – which in theory should be a good first step on getting to grips with home water use in a serious way.
As with a lot of our regional work, it’s very much a collaborative business, with partners as diverse as Environment Agency Wales and the Consumer Council for Water. It all works on a sliding scale, from simply finding out what people know already about their water use, to visiting homes and assisting real, long-term behaviour change.
In total, LivingWise is aiming to cut over 400 tonnes of CO2 – strewth.
Lofty ambitions are not something our Welsh representatives fear, however. But of course, the buy-in of the people of Rhiwbina is nigh-on essential for success. So what’s in it for them?
Plenty, basically. Each person in the UK uses on average, about 150 litres each day. That’s a lot – and a fair bit going down the drain that needn’t. But factoring in that about 30 per cent of your household energy bill is from heating the water, and the fact that’s worth about £200 per year on average, then the reasons for action are compelling.
And if energy bills and carbon emissions weren’t enough to think about, there’s also the drought question hanging over this island at present. Water shortages are no longer a problem far away, and no-one would want to see Cardiff resembling Alice Springs in the foreseeable future.
To residents of Rhiwbina, we say: we’re on our way, fear not those water and energy bills. To everyone else, we say: this is the future of changing our ways in a sustainable direction, so don’t be surprised when similar schemes hit your respective streets.