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Working from home, online shopping increase carbon emissions

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Working from home, online shopping increase carbon emissions

Unread postby Keith_McClary » Wed 22 Sep 2010, 01:34:56

Working from home and online shopping can increase carbon emissions

... working from home can increase home energy use by as much as 30 per cent, and can lead to people moving further from the workplace, stretching urban sprawl and increasing pollution.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) report looks at the ‘rebound’ effects of activities that are commonly thought to be green. Rebound effects are the unintended consequences of policies that are designed to reduce emissions, but on closer analysis can move the emission’s production elsewhere or lessen the positive impact.
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Re: Working from home, online shopping increase carbon emiss

Unread postby dolanbaker » Wed 22 Sep 2010, 03:11:00

The main reason home shopping is not as effective as it should be in saving energy, is the simple fact that it is completely uncoordinated, for example, five householders in a street order from on-line shops, five delivery vans turn up, more if the householders order from more than one store.

The simple answer is to have a coordinated delivery system, or a dedicated middleman to do the deliveries, it would vastly reduce the number of duplicated journeys.
Ronald Coase, Nobel Economic Sciences, said in 1991 “If we torture the data long enough, it will confess.”
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Re: Working from home, online shopping increase carbon emiss

Unread postby Pops » Wed 22 Sep 2010, 06:57:35

That sucks, telecommuting is one of my big fixes.

Here are my caveats to the universities caveats:

They point out that home energy use increases 30% by working from home, well yea, that's because you are home! My house wouldn't use much energy at all if I was never there. In our case my wife is home anyway so the increase is a light bulb and the power used by the machine to type here - I mean to work.

Perhaps there is some savings in hvac for a corral of cubicles at a new modern naturally lit highly efficient office building over a drafty old barn of a house, seems like that would be pretty hard to generalize about.

What is the net effect of buying online vs driving 10 miles to the specialty store I have wondered about. If we all bought just about the same things, all those things were delivered to the central warehouse by rail then delivered by truck to a local outlet within walking distance of our home, that would be ideal I guess - sort of like the plan Walmart has I'd guess.

Some part of online purchases probably originate just like above: rail-warehouse-truck-store but then turnaround and go just the opposite direction to the online buyers house - store-truck-big truck/jet-truck-home, just about a doubling of transport and lots more handling.

Like most everything else the problem isn't how we get what we get the problem is we get so much! Buying some thing online that you can't get locally, that is going to last 30 years, and maybe it's worthwhile from a carbon standpoint, a gift basket or tee shirt, maybe not so much.
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Re: Working from home, online shopping increase carbon emiss

Unread postby Ludi » Wed 22 Sep 2010, 11:20:37

I'm pretty sure I'm using less energy staying at home than commuting to a job. My home and business combined average about 700 kwh per month.
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Re: Working from home, online shopping increase carbon emiss

Unread postby IslandCrow » Sat 25 Sep 2010, 03:53:37

I agree with Ludi.

Yes working from home will increase my electricity use, but then I would use the same equipment in an office. I save on reduced commuting (it was about 50 km/day), and the organisation I work for does not have to provide office space which they would then need to heat. I am sure that I am saving much more energy by working from home. It seems the article leaves out so much in order to be able to say that working from home uses more energy.

The shopping thing is where I have more agreement with the intial arguement.
We should teach our children the 4-Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rejoice.
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Re: Working from home, online shopping increase carbon emiss

Unread postby RankineCycle » Thu 30 Sep 2010, 22:48:04

As far as the working from home, I find it very difficult to believe that energy consumption in the home would be increased further than what is consumed by driving. If public transit or Calorie transit is used, then possibly if you are an energy-aware citizen who would otherwise shut the house down before leaving for a workplace.

I sometimes feel that I use electricity liberally, I'll have a 40-watt bulb blazing just the make balls of wax float around in my lava lamp, for maybe 5 hours a day. That's 0.2 kWh electric/day and about 0.6 kWh of primary energy (mostly nuclear, in my case). And in winter the heat produced goes to heat the place, so the wretched electric baseboards put out that much less heat than they otherwise would.

0.6 kWh is equivalent to 1/58 of a gallon of gasoline (with 35 kWh/gallon...a lovely mashup of units). In a 24 mpg car, that gets one no more than 2/5 of a mile.

a 50 mile commute in said 24 mpg car would consume 73 kWh of gasoline, equivalent to around 24 kWh of electricity (3:1 heat:work ratio being assumed here).

I've heated with 50 kWh/day on the coldest winter days, if I had my heat totally off for 8 hours a day while at work and outside temperature remained constant, I would consume about 17 kWh more on that coldest of cold days than if actually going to a workplace. However, the heat doesn't get turned totally off when leaving - it gets set to 50*F, plus the fridge still runs during the day and such.

And most Americans leave their heat and air conditioning run full blast through their entire house even when they are at work, as most houses were built to heat/cool the whole house with forced air controlled by a single dumb thermostat.
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Re: Working from home, online shopping increase carbon emiss

Unread postby MarkJ » Sat 30 Oct 2010, 07:27:53

We spend more money online every year as local stores and suppliers have fewer products we want to buy, or the pricing, quantity and availability is poor.

We save a fortune in time, money and fuel due to online shopping, home delivery, business delivery, jobsite delivery, pickups and returns.

Beats the heck out of driving hundreds of miles to 6/7/8 stores and suppliers only to find out they don't sell something, quantities are low, they're out of stock, products are on backorder, parts are missing, products are defective, products are incorrectly marked/packaged, or they're charging 2/3/4 X more than other suppliers, stores and online resellers.
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Re: Working from home, online shopping increase carbon emiss

Unread postby snow white » Tue 02 Nov 2010, 08:37:02

Good afternoon everyone, I am fairly new to the forum so bare with me :)

I had no idea that shopping online was worse than shopping at a mall/shopping centre. I assume you're talking about walking there...? rather than travelling by car/public transport.

I enjoy walking everywhere anyway so have no problems with that, I think it was just a surprise. We don't always realise that little effort on our part has a huge impact on something elsewhere.

Thank you for the information!

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