The criticism came immediately when Economy Minister Robert Habeck recently introduced a participatory energy-saving campaign called “80 Million Together for a Change in Energy”. National Director of German Environmental Aid (DUH), Barbara Metz, described Project Habik as a “fog candle”: “Instead of taking action itself, it shifts responsibility primarily to consumers and advises on the shower head.”
Upgrading your old shower head to a more economical model (which saves 30 percent more hot water) is one of the many tips Habik’s Department issues on posters and online, with the goal of reducing dependence on energy imports and protecting the climate. On the other hand, DUH is critical of the fact that structural problems in construction stock, for example, will not be resolved in this way.
So it’s a reasonable project or at least “window decorating” like that star Comment (€)? Perhaps we should look at it first from a consumer’s point of view. A representative survey conducted by the Federal Association for the Management of Energy and Water (BDEW) shows that 77 percent of citizens have already consciously tried to save energy in the past few months. 56 percent lowered room temperature, 45 percent showered less frequently or for shorter periods, and 13 percent installed programmable thermostats on their radiators. Habek seems to have struck a chord with the audience. However, the reason for austerity is not Russia’s attack on Ukraine, which only 5% of respondents described as a major motivator for changing their behavior. By far the most common reason given by 67 percent: increased energy costs. Lots of people simply limit themselves for financial rather than moral reasons, and that’s understandable.
Screensaver, does anyone else do that?
In my view, this is where the campaign makes sense by demonstrating the savings potential of individual measures. For example, use the washing machine’s energy saving program: it saves 8 euros per year. Always use the lid when cooking: € 27 (or 46 kg of CO2, by the way). Turning off the router at night: 12 euros. By itself, that’s not an incredible amount, but it does add up. There were some things that I didn’t know personally, for example you can boil eggs with 2cm of water in a saucepan instead of covering them completely with water. Or that convection baking is more economical compared to top and bottom heat. I felt trapped when advised to defrost the freezer regularly. Yes, you should, soon… and some things look a little outdated, like the advice to put your computer to sleep instead of using a screen saver. Screensaver, does anyone else do that?
There is absolutely no mention of how much energy and money can be saved by eco-friendly transportation or by working from home. There is also nothing to be found in the relationship between consumer behavior and energy consumption. One can certainly criticize these loopholes. A look at the Gateway (or at something similar like BDEW’s Simply Energy Saving) seems to me at least worthwhile in order to discover a few tuning screws for everyday life.
in science magazine temper nature Felix Kreutzig of the Berlin Mercator Institute for Global Commons Research and Climate Change also calls for a significant reduction in energy consumption in order to reduce dependence on fossil raw materials. However – and this is where the criticism of DUH comes in full – one does not have many particularly effective actions on his or her hands. For example, lower street speed limits, or higher efficiency standards for buildings. Only new laws will help here, not individual changes in behavior. But one does not exclude the other.
What do you think of the economy minister’s campaign: useful, unnecessary – or just a diversion? Are you really trying to save energy? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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