by April 1, 2009 0 comments

In 2004 when ramping up ‘Project W’, our bid to evangelize the use of WiFi in
its infancy in India, we focused on getting CIOs and IT managers to experience
WiFi-starting at home. We urged them to also get their senior colleagues started
on WiFi the same way: install it at home.

Those who tried it at home were the earliest adopters in the office: they
went ahead and installed WiFi in their offices, and managers began to use it.
If you want new tech to be adopted quickly, get managers to start using it at
home. Okay, so you can’t do that with server-room tech or ERP tools. But some
things are ideal for the home ‘entry route’.

Green is one of them.
Let me repeat that we’re focused on green only as a means to save energy and
money. Green has to be practical. Very few of us have ‘save the planet’ as a
business objective or KRA. If we adopt green, it has to make economic sense.

Most people are keen to save money at home. So here’s a sampler of simple
green steps I’ve taken over the past three years, which worked as a little pilot
project for me to test whether investing in green made sense.

Cover up the house: The top floor of my two-story house needed
full-time cooling in summer, with temperatures crossing 45 degrees (up to five
degrees higher than outside). I covered the rooftop with asbestos two years ago
(for Rs 90,000, mostly for the steel structure). Top floor peak temperature
dropped by over five degrees, and air conditioning was needed only infrequently,
after that. Bonus: the rooftop became usable even in summer, and especially
through the rains!

Switch to efficient lighting. This wasn’t driven by my power bill. In fact,
replacing light bulbs (Rs 10) with CFLs (Rs 100) did not seem to make sense. But
the key was power backup. My inverter and its twin batteries would trip if most
lights were on; and it would run down in an hour. Using CFLs let me actually
replace the dying twin batteries with a single battery, stretching backup to
several hours even with most lights on. Factoring in my capex savings, I found
returns within 6-12 months…and the CFLs lasted five times longer than bulbs.
Now, I buy BEE star-rated tubelights and CFLs. I’m exploring LED lights, but
they’re still expensive.

Add switches: I added switches for the power stabilizers for the ACs,
and also for the cluster of electronics at my TV / audio console. This makes it
easy to switch off completely instead of letting all those devices drain power
on standby (ever seen how warm your AC’s stabilizer gets even when not in use)?
The key is to make the switches visible and easy-to-reach.

Use more natural light: This takes planning, not investment. One way
is to use the windows and doors you have and use curtains and frosted glass to
balance light with privacy.

Balance cooler and AC: It’s not common to have both in the same room,
but I’ve found it works-you can use the cooler when it’s hot and dry, to quickly
cool the room down a bit, switch to the AC to cool and maintain. You save power,
because the AC kicks in less frequently.

Seeing small steps working can be a great motivator.

Any other green ‘pilot project’ ideas for the home? Let me know!

Prasanto K Roy is president and chief editor, ICT Publications, at CyberMedia

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