Home to me is and always will be Edinburgh. It has been almost three decades since I lived here, but every time I pass these streets or stay in these streets, memories come back, good and bad.
Growing up in the city’s Wester Hailes area, I was fortunate enough to be part of a happy family, but like so many there were challenges – paying the gas and electric bills among them. .
Trying to find 50ps for the analog meter and later switch to power boards which meant you had to have more money in your pocket was often frustrating.
Maybe that’s why issues of fuel poverty and making our place of life more sustainable and attractive interest me, something I never really thought about until COP26 inspired this trip.
But the way we live soon becomes the topic of conversation with Jamie Brogan, head of climate partnerships at the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute.
“When you see examples of what other countries have done, it shows you what is possible,” he says.
“There was a company in Paris that had been ordered to demolish a tower.
“They said no, we’re not going to tear it down because it wasn’t going to be very energy efficient, we’re going to put balconies in it, then grow some green stuff in it, then that will provide cooling in the l summer and insulation in winter.
Whether the tall buildings where I grew up see it or not, I have some doubts. But it’s a brilliant notion and it’s just such thinking that gives hope to where we might be going as a society – something he thinks will be driven by individuals.
“I think a lot of it depends on people’s choices, and that’s kind of what gives you hope, especially as you go down the generations.” He said: “If you try to appeal to a younger market, they won’t do business with a company that doesn’t have the right credentials and so they will drive this change.”
“A lot of people look at what they see as unicorns like carbon capture, storage and hydrogen and stuff like that – I sure wouldn’t start there.
“We can do a lot of things just by improving the energy efficiency of our homes by improving our appliances, by changing our energy and heat sources, it’s not a technical challenge, the technology to do huge progress in our carbon emissions does exist. now.
“These are the systemic challenges, unlocking investments, raising capital and changing behavior, these are the things we need to work on now.
“Is that one thing, I don’t know, but what I’m saying is don’t get distracted by these potential long term things, there is so much we can do right now that can do quite a difference. “
Grahame Case, vlogger behind YouTube channel The Joy of EV6, is doing his fair share to make a difference. He’s just picked up his second electric car, a new Kia, when we meet to talk about how he’s greened his life.
He made the lifestyle change to a sustainable lifestyle in 2018, explaining, “I have two young children who are now eight and six and I wanted to leave the planet in at least a better state than I was in. found it, so I took steps to decarbonize my transport and home.
“The first thing was LED lights and I found out about smart meters, so I called my energy supplier and they were able to install one within a week.
“It then launched me on a wonderful journey which then ended with an electric car, solar panels, a home battery and an air source heat pump. “
“Smart meters can save you money, you don’t have to do all the expensive things I did.
“But it’s also very important for the network, because it will also look at the data and tell when there is maximum use and make the network smarter and cleaner. As a result, they can tailor what they need for the grid rather than providing carbon-intensive energy that is not needed. “
Smart meters are not only an upgrade from old analog meters, but will also help establish a modern smart energy system. This new system will not only allow us to use renewables more reliably, but could also enable the deployment of other green technologies in the future.
For Verity Tuckwood, owner of eco-friendly chalet The Green House in Ettrickbridge, Borders, it’s the chance to influence others that helps motivate her and her husband Mark.
Their independent structure has a sedum roof, solar panels, forced air heat pumps and a wall in the middle retaining and sharing heat for the entire structure. It’s a great way to educate and convert customers to the enduring cause.
She explains, “The guests who left this morning were a great example of maybe a slight change of mind or getting them to try new things because they said they had never tried some of the products. green cleaning before and they were actually really good.
“If they go away and they change something in their lifestyle, then I’m happy.
“What if everyone does that, if all of our guests go out and say ooh, oh, I didn’t know you could recycle that until I stayed there, so great, we changed a another little habit for the better.
“By moving to an area like this, you appreciate the environment and you are much more aware of it when you live in a rural setting.
“You’re much more aware of the seasons, the climate, the nature around you, so with a climate emergency you have a better understanding of where it fits and how it affects things and how you can do your part to help. “
Which, if home is truly where the heart is, could be a lesson for all of us.
Join the energy revolution. Research: “Get a smart meter”.