MSPs who have been competing in a challenge to make their homes more climate friendly will find out just how green they are when the winner is announced on Wednesday.

Five MSPs, including former First Minister Jack McConnell and Green Party leader Robin Harper, signed up to Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Home Energy Challenge in late 2007. Highlands MSPs Rob Gibson (SNP) and Mary Scanlon (Conservative) along with Jim Hume (Lib Dem) from the South of Scotland also took part in the contest.

Their mission was to make their homes more climate-friendly over the course of 2008 by improving their energy efficiency or installing micro-renewables. The aim was to help politicians learn firsthand the pleasures and pitfalls of becoming greener at home and consider what needs to change to make it easier for all households in Scotland to become more climate-friendly.

The winner will be announced at 18.00 on Wednesday 28 January 2009, at a ceremony in the Scottish Parliament. The winner will be presented with an award by Friends of the Earth Scotlands Chief Executive Duncan McLaren, along with a cheque for £500 made out to their chosen charity.

Duncan McLaren, said:

“Scotland’s homes are responsible for nearly a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions, so having an energy-saving home really can help save the planet as well as the pennies. Our five MSPs have discovered that while it’s cheap and easy to take many simple energy saving steps, a bigger cut in carbon emissions often involves more time and hassle. Government action and increased funding can help cut that hassle, and we hope our participants will now support our campaign to make energy saving easier for all Scots.”

Chas Booth from the Association for the Conservation of Energy said,

“While some of our MSPs found it easy to make substantial energy savings, many of them found that cutting carbon at home isn’t as hassle-free as it should be. We hope all MSPs will work together over the coming months to ensure that the Scottish Climate Change Bill contains measures that make it easier for Scots to have warm homes without a warming planet.”

The MSPs started and ended the challenge with an audit carried out by the Energy Saving Trust. Measures taken to improve energy efficiency include installing draught proofing, insulation, better boilers, double glazing, room thermostats and low energy lighting.

The project was funded by Polden‐Puckham Charitable Foundation and Superglass Insulation.

…ENDS…

Notes to Editors

[1] The participating MSPs are:

o  Rob Gibson, Scottish National Party, Highlands and Islands

o  Robin Harper MSP, Scottish Green Party, Lothians

o  Jim Hume MSP, Scottish Liberal Democrats, South of Scotland

o  Jack McConnell, Scottish Labour, Motherwell and Wishaw

o  Mary Scanlon, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Highlands and Islands

 [2] Friends of the Earth Scotland exists to help people in Scotland look after the planet for everyone’s future. We think globally and act locally in Scotland, delivering solutions to the problem of climate change by enabling and empowering people to take both individual and collective action. We offer help to people with the big things in life – helping to sustain a healthy society and environment. We believe that all of our children’s futures will be better because of what we do.Friends of the Earth Scotland is an independent Scottish charity SC003442. For mote information see www.foe-scotland.org.uk

[3] THE HOME ENERGY CHALLENGE EXPLAINED:

Why do we need to tackle climate emissions at home?

At present, the average household emits 6 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year,
based on household energy consumption. This accounts for approximately 25%
of total UK CO2 emissions, with another 27% coming from transport, and the
rest from industry and commerce.

What is the home energy challenge?

Over the course of a year, the five MSPs have made it their mission to make
their homes more ‘climate-friendly’. To do this they have tried to reduce
their carbon dioxide emissions. As a result they learned at first hand
the pleasures and pitfalls of becoming greener at home.

How have they cut their climate emissions?

To reduce their carbon dioxide emissions they have to reduce the amount
of energy they use that comes from burning fossil fuels – or replace it with
energy generated from renewable sources such as the wind and sun. The winner
is the one who has made the biggest cut in their carbon dioxide emissions by the end of
the year.  

How has their progress been monitored?  

Each MSP got a visit at the start of the challenge from an expert from the Energy Saving Trust. They assessed how much energy the MSP currently used, and how much carbon
dioxide they emitted, and gave them advice on ways to reduce
this. This involves taking measures to make their homes more energy
efficient, such as loft insulation and low energy light bulbs, or perhaps
installing a solar panel to give them green electricity or hot water.
But it also needed the MSPs to change the way they behaved! No more
leaving the TV on standby all night. The MSPs then decided for
themselves what changes they could make to meet the challenge.

Did the MSPs get all this for free?

The MSPs had to fund all the energy saving measures they installed over the year from their own pockets.