Monday, February 27, 2012

Single-handedly Destroying the Environment :(

I have a confession to make: my husband and I have committed a glaring act of environmental vandalism. It was definitely NOT intentional but, every time I think about it, I break into a cold sweat of remorse and guilt.

We had a new reverse cycle air-conditioning system installed at the end of 2008 and we love it. At the time of installation I asked the contractor what I needed to do in the way of maintenance and was told that I didn't need to do a thing. Lovely. I read the instruction booklet which had no mention of maintenance either. Lovely.

Over the summer and, particularly last Saturday when the temperature soared, the air-conditioner seemed to be struggling, as well as making a lot of noise. We were running it at the maximum we could. We ended up moving outside to our rumpus room where it was cooler but left the air-conditioner on in the vain hope that as the sun set the system would improve. I could almost see the emissions pouring into the atmosphere by that point and felt a little sick.

Finally, my husband and I admitted we had a problem and would have to call in a repairman. Not something we could really afford after having had to have a termite treatment recently. *cringe* First, however, I wanted to check the manual again. Just as I remembered, there was nothing. This time, however, I went to the trouble-shooting section which suggested cleaning the air intake grille. We had nothing to lose so we did and it was FILTHY. I'm surprised we hadn't all died of some sort of bronchial malfunction! We replaced the grille, turned it on and waited. It was still on maximum and, pretty soon, the house became ARCTIC. Furthermore, the fan noise was almost non-existent, even on high.

I'm glad we were able to fix the problem and I can assure Mother Nature that we'll be cleaning the air intake grille on a very regular basis from now on. I just wish we'd known to do it sooner.



  1. The bigger question your post raises is - where does one draw the line when embarking on a Footprints project such as yours?

    Humans survived up until the last 50 years without the need for air conditioning (yes we have a reverse cycle too and I feel guilty every time I put it on). Probably the same for cars as well.
    So, in the interests of not leaving a footprint, what is your thinking on :
    1. The 'footprint debt' you/we have accumulated before embarking on a more balanced approach (is that written off as part of the pre-Footprint ignorance or do you feel you owe something so you need to be in the net positive now and in the future to repay the previous debt?)
    2. How have you managed the issue of running cars, air conditioners etc. which would have been seen up until the last 50 years as luxuries rather than necessities?

    1. 1. If we start to think in terms of a debt we have to pay off, how do we measure it? And if we come up with a way to do so and it turns out to be theoretically possible to pay back that debt in some way, what happens when it's paid back? Those were meant to be rhetorical questions because my fear about thinking in terms of an eco debt to pay back is that, once we had considered it paid back, we might potentially decide "enough is enough" and slacken off.
      2. We have all of those items and run/use them. Before, we gratuitously did so. These days, we find ways to use them less; turn on the air-con/heating later and try to find other ways to keep cool or warm, and "batching" errands and outings, car-pooling, walking, taking public transport or using a substitute at home instead of doing a "mercy dash" out to buy one item or sending our son out on his bike to buy said item.