Tomorrow night, St Pauls Cathedral will host a candle-lit vigil, a pedal-powered cinema (world premiering “fun and factual films”) and a welcome address by the Bishop of London who is backing Energy Saving Day (or E-Day, not eDay, for short).
Between 6pm on Wednesday 27 through to 6pm on Thursday evening, the organisers are encouraging us to make a conscious effort to save energy in their home, school or workplace and report what they’ve cut down or eliminated on the E-Day website.
Staging E-Day over 24 hours will help to minimise the risks associated with large swings in electricity demand, while allowing time for significant energy savings to be achieved.
Given the number of non-essential household items that are left on, the widespread uptake of this call to action has the potential to result in a 1-3% drop in the UK’s electricity demand.
National Grid has agreed to predict demand the day before E-Day happens and to help the public to access this information via the E-Day website once the countdown has finished. It will also manage any changes in electricity demand and refine its forecasts, used to determine the effectiveness of E-Day, based on the weather during E-Day, as well as any other unexpected news or television events.
BBC’s head of comedy Jon Plowman originally championed the idea of a UK switch off under the banner of Planet Relief. They’d even negotiated the switching off of a power station for 24 hours. However, in early September, the show was cancelled. At the time, a BBC spokesperson explained:
“Our audiences tell us they are most receptive to documentary or factual style programming as a means of learning about the issues surrounding this subject, and as part of this learning we have made the decision not to proceed with the Planet Relief event.”
There is a fine line between raising awareness and campaigning, and there were questions about the use of the licence-fee funded BBC’s involvement with and coverage of the anti-poverty Live8/Live Earth events. Head of TV news, Peter Horrocks, suggested:
“It is not the BBC's job to lead opinion or proselytise on this or any other subject.”
However, environmental expert Matt Prescott pressed ahead with the overall project, working under the banner of E-Day.
So why not turn off those lights in unoccupied rooms, power bricks not actually charging anything, and gadgets sitting on standby and see if it makes a difference (or forms a habit you can sustain)?