First Look Blog

Articles written by the First Look team.


Questioning the Gift Horseā€¦

Published by Ken Nunes on 31/07/2015


We were told from a very young age …never look a gift horse in the mouth…it's a familiar phrase and one that is in our DNA.

However, I am now reliably informed that behavioural change can influence between 15% and 30% of our energy consumption and I am having conflict with my DNA.

Imagine the following scenario (true story in fact):

"Someone" (it’s not important who :) ) offers to change all the night-time security lights at your school for FREE. No cost!

No one can blame you for accepting this “gift horse”. ABSOLUTELY…no hesitation! Thank you...do it...It resolves a major concern of the school, located in a particularly vulnerable neighbourhood and only positive improvements can be imagined.

And true to their word, the accepted offer is soon exectuted and a number (quite a lot in fact) of 125W Mercury vapour fittings are installed. It's a happy ending, no?

Well...not really...It’s 2015!!! We have an energy crisis and your school has a limited (already over-stretched) electricity budget. You soon discover the real effect of the “gift horse”. Your electricity bill increases. Why? The lights are on 12-hours a day, for 365 days a year and there are lots of them.

The question therefore begs to be ask: How is it possible for any Government Department to install 125W Mercury Vapour Lamps...in 2015. Surely we are aware that for a small initial additional cost, (with major significant long-term benefits - I refer to the running cost not the environmental effect of the mercury), a maybe 10W or 20W or maximum 30W LED would be perfectly adequate? It's a saving of between 75% and 90%. Surely the question needs to be asked. And surely the procurement policy needs to at least be questioned?

What will in fact happen, is that in the very near future, the complete "gift horse" lighting fitting will be removed and replaced by a suitable LED fitting, with an energy payback of less than 9-months. It's perfectly logical...

Future blog posts will look to identify similar decisions we take, which will forms part of the much larger issue of "behavioural change"...