A short guide to energy sobriety

At home and in his car. These are two places where we use most of the energy we consume. At a time when its cost, source and origin are the subject of major question marks, Weather draws up a list, neither exhaustive nor fundamentalist, of small austerity measures that can be taken on a daily basis.

But first a reminder: in Switzerland energy is consumed in the form of petroleum fuels and fuels (50%), gas (13%) and other sources (12%). Electricity production, which represents the remaining quarter, comes mainly from hydraulic (60%) and nuclear (33%) power plants.

Before reading on, it is important to remember another figure provided by the Federal Office of Energy (SFOE): in order to respect Switzerland’s climate obligations, the average energy consumption of each of us must fall by 43% by 2035 So we get active.

◼ Turn the heating down

It will get easier with the arrival of spring. But regardless of the season, lowering the heating by just one degree saves 7% of our energy consumption. It is the French agency for ecological transition, Ademe, that made this calculation for a country where about a third of households are equipped with electric heaters.

Also read: The war in Ukraine drives up energy prices in Switzerland

In Switzerland this share is only 6%. More than half of the households heat with oil or gas. According to Energie-environnement.ch, the information platform for the French-speaking cantons and that of Bern, the correct settings of its boiler and the judicious use of time periods at home (day, night, weekend, etc.) reduce consumption by 10 to 15% .

◼ Driving less

Why not take public transport to get to work? Or share your car with colleagues? And get on your bike every now and then?

This kind of counting is the specialty of Manuel Lonfat, founder of Quambio, an application that measures the emissions saved thanks to the use of soft mobility. Here is his example: if we decide to cycle the 15 km that separate us from work once a week during the summer season (April to September), almost 200 kg of CO2 equivalent will not be emitted. 45 liters of fuel is saved for these approximately 25 journeys. Or, at current prices, about 100 francs.

And since we’re talking money here, Manuel Lonfat adds that there should be an additional 100 francs in potential savings on maintenance, insurance and parking costs.

◼ Driving light

Missing your car on time is too much of an effort? There are also measures to take while continuing to drive as much as before.

Also read: Sébastien Houde: “This energy crisis is the worst lever!”

If you haven’t taken your trunk off the roof of your car yet and plan to leave it until the Easter holidays, know that this is a mistake. At 120 km/h, the weight and wind resistance increase your fuel consumption by 15%. The roof rack costs 5% more consumption.

◼ Driving differently

It’s time to remember his physics lessons in college: a vehicle’s kinetic energy depends on its mass to be moved and its speed squared. In other words, slowing down has more effect than lighting up your vehicle.

Reducing your speed by 10 km/h on the highway can make a big difference. In a list of recommendations released last week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that this simple measure, extended to all developed economies, would save 430,000 barrels of oil every day. Or 1% of current consumption.

But speed isn’t the only lever for action. Changing the way you drive is even more effective. This practice has a name: Eco-Drive. The Swiss Touring Club recommends in the training it publishes on this subject in particular “driving anticipation and fluidity, avoiding unnecessary braking and gear changes”. There are four golden rules: use the highest gear ratio possible, accelerate quickly, shift as quickly as possible (maximum 2500 rpm) and downshift as late as possible.

Not very Fast & Furious† But economical. “It is impossible to give a figure that applies to all cars, drivers and routes, but with Eco-Drive you can reduce your fuel consumption by up to 10%, while driving at the same pace,” says the TCS spokesperson.

◼ Organize consumption

Can’t the dishwasher wait until tonight, tonight, and the washing machine this weekend, before turning them on? By organizing its electricity consumption in order to avoid consumption peaks, “above all, we help the network”, explains Cédric Junillon, EPF engineer and founder of the company WattEd. It is a new way of using energy that is adapted to future sources of supply.” Understand: solar and wind energy, which we have little control over. But unloading consumption peaks has another advantage. “Switzerland imports a lot of electricity in the winter, especially from Germany. The higher the consumption peak, the dirtier the imported electricity because coal-fired power plants are turned on to meet the demand.”

◼ Download instead of streaming

In a completely different register, it is also worth questioning our way of spending time in front of our smartphone or computer screen. In an article published in December, my colleague Anouch Seydtaghia spoke about an unreadable numbers war on this subject between NGOs, the IEA and platforms like Netflix. But after reading this article, it is possible to rank the following, from worst to best: 4) stream a movie in high definition on your smartphone with 4G or 5G; 3) stream a movie over fiber or wifi; 2) download a movie; 1) find the person who owns the DVD of this movie.

◼ Thinking about the obvious

As mentioned above, this list is not exhaustive. We might add, pell-mell: hang your laundry instead of in the dryer; practice restraint with car air conditioning; turn off the lights in the rooms you leave; don’t leave your electronic equipment on standby, eat as locally as possible… In short, a sum of evidence that we discovered a long time ago and that we could apply a little more. To punish Russia, but above all to conserve our resources.

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