Tuesday, June 20, 2006

do or die , prevail or perish

What is it that affects mankind irrespective of caste, creed, sex, age, literacy, status? Well, I would say it’s some kind of pollution air, water, land, noise, green cover …the list is never ending. The degree would be different as the rich would be shielded better against these troubles, as lack of rains, rise in temperature, etc. affects those less privileged such as the rural folk who are engaged in farming and cultivation for their livelihood.

Pollution as such is not a naturally occurring phenomenon so it has to have a cause which I would say is primarily us and again us. Let’s look at one thing at time air pollution – Have you seen the difference between the air in the roads outside Lalbagh garden and the air inside? The air inside is light, easier to breathe without too much of pollutants, dust and pollens.

We all do a bit of traveling to get to office and back home and you must have noticed the amount of smoke being belched out by autos, buses and lorries. Every vehicle is running on some fuel and giving out smoke which is raising the overall temperature of the earth, but that’s not the point if every vehicle gets their emission check done and keep their smoke to a minimal its going to be a paradise. Ok, now you and me can’t go and get the emission check done for everybody but you and I can get our vehicles checked for proper engine efficiency thus conserving fuel and minimizing the exhaust.

We know Bangalore is getting hot and temperature are raising, but when you stop at a signal how many of us switch off the engine and wait for the signal to come back to turn the engine on. Lakhs of litres (3.22 lakh/day to be precise) of petrol is being wasted /day just on waiting at the traffic lights. A small measure by keeping your air levels correct in your vehicles wheels goes a long way in saving fuel. If you observe the latest trend, even if some thing has to be bought from a shop about 5-10 minutes away from home people immediately take their bikes/cars. Let’s show some consideration by optimally using our vehicles and using our legs instead to get to places and get some exercise for ourselves. Or, one resort to car-pooling for office commutes and travel 4 to a car, thus saving precious fuel.

Noise pollution: Let’s have a test first. Have you ever driven to office or back home without once pressing on the horn? If not try it today not to press the horn while on your way back home. See for yourself how dependent you have become on the horn. It’s practically not possible to drive in cities without horn but judicial use of it would go a long way towards lowering the noise levels.

A few days back the sound audit reports for Bangalore were out and places like Majestic and MG Road had a decibel level of 85 against the maximum of 65. What does this do to you? Do you know each time your ear experiences a loud noise, hundreds of thousands of cells die in the ear? The report blames the bus, lorry drivers who keep their hands pressed constantly on the horn. It says constant exposure to noise pollution causes mental distress and affects one’s physical health, too. If you see some one honking without a proper reason, you should not hesitate to ask them to stop honking.

Water Pollution: Water pollution needn’t only mean pollution of water but also improper use. Water is a really precious resource which is running real dangerously close to low levels. Causes? Multiplexes with about 300+ houses which are coming in a block of land which would have otherwise housed a max of 10 – 15 independent houses. Now just try imaging the amount of water that these 300+ houses would be drawing from the block of land that would have housed only about 10-15 houses. Can you imagine the kind of stress on the water tables there? With the populations rising, there is no feasible way to get done with apartments but always these apartment members can be reasonable enough to take part in water conservation activities. The apartment should have a rain water harvesting plan in place just as in Chennai all constructions plans are approved only if the plans have a rain water harvesting scheme in it. Water let out during basic activities like shaving, brushing one’s teeth amounts to a difference of 15-20 litres between using a mug of water (about a litre) and using a running tap. A lot of water which we usually throw down the drain from cooking, etc., can be used for watering the plants.

By reducing the flame from high to simmer while boiling milk or water, reduces 25% of the gas used.

By switching off the TV or the monitor of the computer we can save up to 200 watts per hour.

Try using solar heaters instead of electric based heater for water.

Here are some tips that will help you conserve energy.

Energy Conservation

In the household...

  • Begin by switching off the lights and the fans in the rooms that are not occupied. Make sure that everyone in the family does the same.
  • Use CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) instead of ordinary incandescent lamps. These lamps may be more expensive but they last longer than the ordinary bulbs and are very energy efficient as they consume much less power.
  • Use the washing machine at full loads, as the consumption of water will be the same whether you put in half a load of clothes or a full load.
  • Mix hot water in the bucket for a bath rather than using a geyser shower. Showers consume more power and up to 90 litres of water for a bath.
  • Change the heat element in the geyser every 5–6 years; this will enable heating to be faster and also save valuable power.
  • Try using the air conditioner an hour or two less every day. Switch on the air conditioner only when you go into the room and switch it off after a few hours as the room will remain cool for the next few hours. Keep the doors and the windows shut even after it is switched off. Clean the filter at least once a fortnight. A choked filter means improper cooling and more power consumption.
  • Plug on your iron only after you get all your clothes together.
  • Replace traditional chokes of tube lights with electronic chokes. They save two-third energy lost in chokes.
  • Use light colors on the walls of your rooms; this helps reduce lighting requirements up to 40%.
  • Keep the lights and fixtures clean and dirt free. Dust and dirt reduce lighting levels by as much as 30%.
  • Clean and lubricate your fans regularly and replace old regulators with electronic regulators. This helps reduce electricity consumption significantly at low speeds.
  • Cool the food properly before storing in the fridge. Check on the gasket lining or the seal of the fridge. Avoid opening the door frequently. Defrost the fridge regularly, this reduces the power consumption.
  • Buy only those appliances that are essential and try to get the maximum benefit from them.

In the kitchen...

  • While cooking, use wide bottom vessels with lids. Allow food articles taken out of the refrigerators to attain room temperature before cooking them.
  • Soak cereals and dals for some time before cooking them to reduce the cooking time as well as the fuel consumption. Use just sufficient water for cooking.
  • Pressure cookers used with separators lead to substantial fuel saving. Reduce flame by bringing the burner knob to the simmer position as soon as the water starts boiling.
  • Try to eat together to avoid repeated warming of food. This not only saves fuel but also preserves the nutritional value of food.
  • Light the flame only after all preparations have been made and the vessel is ready to be put on the stove
  • Use hot water from solar water heaters for cooking if the facility is available. Try to use a solar cooker if facility and time permit.

Whenever you save energy – or use it more efficiently – you reduce the demand for gasoline, oil, coal, and natural gas. All these sources of energy are used to generate power. Less burning of these fossil fuels means lower emissions of carbon dioxide, the major contributor to global warming, and other harmful gases.

It has been estimated that good housekeeping measures, use of more efficient equipment, and better control methods can save 35%–40% electricity in the domestic sector.

Consumption levels of some commonly used appliances




Instant geyser

3000 W

3 units/hour

Immersion rod

1000 W

1 unit/hour

Air conditioner

1500–2500 W

8.5–14.5 units/day

Air cooler

170 W

1.7 units/day


60 W

0.6 unit/day


200 W

2 units/day

Electric kettle

1000–2000 W

1–2 units/hour

Hot plate

1000–1500 W

1–1.5 units/hour


1000 W

1 unit/hour


800 W

0.8 unit/hour


750 W

0.65–0.75 unit/hour

Incandescent bulb

100/60/40 W

0.5/0.3/0.2 unit/day

Fluorescent lamp

40/20 W

0.28/0.15 unit/day

Slim tube

36 W

0.26 unit/day

Compact fluorescent lamp

7/9/11/13 W

0.06–0.09 unit/day

Source Energy Management Centre, Ministry of Power, Government of India

Tips on Energy Savings

Lighting System

  • One of the best energy-saving devices is the light switch. Turn off lights when not required.
  • Many automatic devices can help in saving energy used in lighting. Consider employing infrared sensors, motion sensors, automatic timers, dimmers and solar cells wherever applicable, to switch on/off lighting circuits.
  • As for as possible use task lighting, which focuses light where it's needed. A reading lamp, for example, lights only reading material rather than the whole room.
  • Dirty tube lights and bulbs reflect less light and can absorb 50 percent of the light; dust your tube lights and lamps regularly.
  • Fluorescent tube lights and CFLs convert electricity to visible light up to 5 times more efficiently than ordinary bulbs and thus save about 70% of electricity for the same lighting levels.
  • Ninety percent of the energy consumed by an ordinary bulb (incandescent lamp) is given off as heat rather than visible light.
  • Replace your electricity-guzzling ordinary bulbs (incandescent lamps) with more efficient types. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) use up to 75 percent less electricity than incandescent lamps.
  • A 15-watt compact fluorescent bulb produces the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb.

Room Air Conditioners

  • Use ceiling or table fan as first line of defense against summer heat. Ceiling fans, for instance, cost about 30 paisa an hour to operate - much less than air conditioners (Rs.10.00 per hour).
  • You can reduce air-conditioning energy use by as much as 40 percent by shading your home's windows and walls. Plant trees and shrubs to keep the day's hottest sun off your house.
  • One will use 3 to 5 percent less energy for each degree air conditioner is set above22°C (71.5°F), so set the thermostat of room air conditioner at 25°C (77°F) to provide the most comfort at the least cost.
  • Using ceiling or room fans allows you to set the thermostat higher because the air movement will cool the room.
  • A good air conditioner will cool and dehumidify a room in about 30 minutes, so use a timer and leave the unit off for some time.
  • Keep doors to air-conditioned rooms closed as often as possible.
  • Clean the air-conditioner filter every month. A dirty air filter reduces airflow and may damage the unit. Clean filters enable the unit to cool down quickly and use less energy.
  • If room air conditioner is older and needs repair, it's likely to be very inefficient. It may work out cheaper on life cycle costing to buy a new energy-efficient air conditioner.


  • Make sure that refrigerator is kept away from all sources of heat, including direct sunlight, radiators and appliances such as the oven, and cooking range. When it's dark, place a lit flashlight inside the refrigerator and close the door. If light around the door is seen, the seals need to be replaced.
  • Refrigerator motors and compressors generate heat, so allow enough space for continuous airflow around refrigerator. If the heat can't escape, the refrigerator's cooling system will work harder and use more energy.
  • A full refrigerator is a fine thing, but be sure to allow adequate air circulation inside.
  • Think about what you need before opening refrigerator door. You'll reduce the amount of time the door remains open.
  • Allow hot and warm foods to cool and cover them well before putting them in refrigerator. Refrigerator will use less energy and condensation will reduce.
  • Make sure that refrigerator's rubber door seals are clean and tight. They should hold a slip of paper snugly. If paper slips out easily, replace the door seals.
  • When dust builds up on refrigerator's condenser coils, the motor works harder and uses more electricity. Clean the coils regularly to make sure that air can circulate freely.
  • For manual defrost refrigerator, accumulation of ice reduces the cooling power by acting as unwanted insulation. Defrost freezer compartment regularly for a manual defrost refrigerator.

Water Heater

  • To help reduce heat loss, always insulate hot water pipes, especially where they run through unheated areas. Never insulate plastic pipes.
  • By reducing the temperature setting of water heater from 60 degrees to 50 degrees C, one could save over 18 percent of the energy used at the higher setting.

Microwave Ovens & Electric Kettles

  • Microwaves save energy by reducing cooking times. In fact, one can save up to 50 percent on your cooking energy costs by using a microwave oven instead of a regular oven, especially for small quantities of food.
  • Remember, microwaves cook food from the outside edge toward the centre of the dish, so if you're cooking more than one item, place larger and thicker items on the outside.
  • Use an electric kettle to heat water. It's more energy efficient than using an electric cook top element.
  • When buying a new electric kettle, choose one that has an automatic shut-off button and a heat-resistant handle.
  • It takes more energy to heat a dirty kettle. Regularly clean your electric kettle by combining boiling water and vinegar to remove mineral deposits.
  • Don't overfill the kettle for just one drink. Heat only the amount of water you need.


  • Turn off your home office equipment when not in use. A computer that runs 24 hours a day, for instance, uses - more power than an energy-efficient refrigerator.
  • If your computer must be left on, turn off the monitor; this device alone uses more than half the system's energy.
  • Setting computers, monitors, and copiers to use sleep-mode when not in use helps cut energy costs by approximately 40%.
  • Battery chargers, such as those for laptops, cell phones and digital cameras, draw power whenever they are plugged in and are very inefficient. Pull the plug and save.
  • Screen savers save computer screens, not energy. Start-ups and shutdowns do not use any extra energy, nor are they hard on your computer components. In fact, shutting computers down when you are finished using them actually reduces system wear - and saves energy

Thanks for your time and I do hope that all of us make a conscious effort to conserve energy and natural resources right away rather than repent down the line. Let’s follow the principle of the 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle/. Because prevention is better than cure, imagine a day without good water at your disposal due to water shortage, having to wear medical/ filter mask day in and day out due to air pollution, imagine having to cook on wood due to energy shortage, imagine 45-50 degree C temperature through out the year with regular 10+ hour power cuts every day. All this is not fiction and is bound to happen in a few years if we continue to be careless.

2. Source Energy Management Centre, Ministry of Power, Government of India

PS: This article might give you some hints, tips, facts and steps to save the environment and protect each one of us and our dear planet...lets join hands to create a difference...


Anonymous said...

Hen Monish....are you guys playing cricket on weekends??

Nagaraj Inamati

Anonymous said...

what happened ?? got tired so sooon??

James said...

Here is a link about energy conservation for apartment tenants.

I hope it is of some use.