What is Christmas without ham, cleaning and lights?

Attorney Kanisa George -
Attorney Kanisa George -

By KANISA GEORGE

From as early as October, people across the country engage in an all-out cleaning war, ultimate baking fiesta and Christmas light show in anticipation of the most wonderful time of the year. Vacuum cleaners go into overdrive, ovens are pushed to their limits, and Christmas lights are hung in every possible part of our homes in readiness for Christmas day.

In most countries around the world, especially in developing counties, the Christmas season is a period when our energy consumption is at an all-time high. From decorative lights that bring warmth to December nights, to appliances that are used around the clock, households use an increased amount of energy.

According to studies, the Christmas holidays are characterised by a sharp rise in energy consumption, leading to higher emissions of CO2. The study found that energy consumption increased by 30 per cent in the US due to the overuse of appliances and lights. But even beyond the Christmas period, according to reports, energy consumption in TT is out of control and a cause for concern.

As a resource-rich society, we have benefitted from social, infrastructural and other forms of development over the last few decades. But, on the flip side, this development has resulted in severe damage to our natural environment and increased the size of our carbon footprint.

Characterised as a high per capita energy consumer, TT lacks energy efficiency standards, and citizens are not properly educated about energy consumption. This according to the National energy-efficient monitoring report for TT. Energy efficiency hasn’t always been a widely discussed issue, but with moves towards renewable energy and the need to curtail the effects of climate change, energy efficiency has quickly made its way to the forefront of the sustainable energy discussion.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), energy efficiency is key to ensuring a safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy system for the future and is seen as key to resolving the “trilemma” of economic development, energy security and climate change.

The IEA stresses the importance of energy efficiency for all countries given the multitude of benefits in the face of increasing energy demands, dwindling reserves, higher resource production costs and environmental concerns. But, given the size of our carbon footprint and our energy sector, are we doing enough to ensure we are moving towards a more energy-efficient society? And what laws and policies are in place to help support this action plan?

In 2020, as part of the government’s multi-tiered strategy for implementing better energy conservation and efficiency practices, the Ministry of Public Utilities, in collaboration with T&TEC, embarked on a national distribution of LED bulbs to members of the public.

In addition to being part of our country’s 2030 vision for sustainable development, this move was implemented to inspire a culture of energy conservation and address negative energy consumption attitudes.

Besides developing a renewable energy policy framework and other financial measures, including rebates on electricity bills, very little has been done to target energy efficiency from the ground up, and laws have not yet caught up with the demands and changes in the energy sector.

Having access to subsides and low electricity rates has rendered us incapable of understanding the need to be more energy-efficient. As such, energy efficiency policies and energy conservation legislation should ensure effective energy use and promote the rational use of energy by industries, businesses and individuals. One policy of note in some jurisdictions deals with appliance use and standards. These policies prescribe minimum efficiency standards for certain appliances, such as refrigerators and washing machines. In addition, it requires that products adhere to a specific maximum allowable energy consumption or dictate that a product contain particular features or devices.

Some countries have taken it further and have made specific energy performance requirements mandatory in their commercial and residential construction codes. These codes consider design, materials, and equipment used in new construction and renovations while ensuring energy performance requirements are achieved.

I know that most of you might still be tempted to go all out this season without keeping your energy consumption use in mind. So here are a few tips you could use this Christmas season.

1. Opt for LED Christmas lights and lights throughout your home.

2. Invest in rechargeable batteries or energy-efficient chargers.

3. Purchase new appliances that carry energy star ratings.

4. Bake several dishes at a time. This way, you’ll be more energy-efficient and shorten the time your oven is on.

We all deserve to be merry this Christmas; why not do it in the most energy-efficient way possible.

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"What is Christmas without ham, cleaning and lights?"

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