Monday, 14 March 2011
Every so often, we talk about getting solar water heating installed at home. With inexorably rising fuel prices, it would probably save us money in the long run - but it's not all that cheap to install.
How is it, then, that almost everywhere in Mongolia we saw solar heating units tucked in between the tents? And I'm not talking amateur attempts patched together with sellotape - rather, we saw the same professional sealed units everywhere. We even benefitted from the hot water this one supplied for a shower in our Mongolian hotel.
Am I missing something obvious? Maybe it's just closer to cheap imports from China... but I would have expected up-front costs to have more impact in a poorer country, not less. On the other hand, when we went to Cuba the locals told us about their experiences with low energy light bulbs - because lighting is such a huge part of their electric bill, they really noticed the difference when they switched from incandescent bulbs, and no-one would want to go back. I'm not an economist, but I find this fascinating. It seems crazy that we should be complacent about small savings (and, let's face it, most people are) just because we spend more on our energy bills overall.