Will being eco-conscious save more energy than fitting wind turbines and PV panels?

The news that scientists say you are doing more to save the planet by turning off the lights than fitting wind turbines or PV panels on your house worries me. This is because I reckon it is easier to fit some renewable kit on the roof rather than getting your nearest and dearest to change their behaviour.

My wife earnestly says she wants to cut our carbon emissions but when it comes to turning out the lights, or keeping the front door closed to keep the heat in when chatting to a neighbour on the doorstep, her memory seems to desert her.

If you are thinking this guy is getting really boring going on about those lights, that is precisely what my wife thinks when I remind her about her commitment to the environment.

The reason why I risk divorce here isn’t because I am sure she doesn’t read Building, but because I suspect this is a scenario replayed across the land. In fact my wife is very good in many respects. The number of people I know who run their dishwashers half empty, or heat their homes to remind them of that tropical holiday they recently enjoyed, is sobering. I even have a neighbour who drives 150m to the supermarket to buy a pint of milk.

I admit I am not perfect. I keep meaning to do something about the energy hungry halogen downlighters I installed a few years ago and I have been planning to change our ancient boiler for a much more efficient condensing version for ages but haven’t got round to it. As for topping up the loft insulation from 100mm to 200mm, it means clearing out 10 years of rubbish first, so that can go right to the end of the list.

Is there any good news in all this? Well, the same scientists say the main benefit of fitting solar panels is making people more conscious of energy use and altering their behaviour accordingly. Back to square one then.