As lockdown and social distancing measures remain in force across the UK, it’s important that we all try to stay positive during these uncertain times. A good way to do that is to take a look at some of the upsides of being in lockdown.
Some important environmental changes have occurred as a result of us all staying at home and we can fight off the boredom by doing something productive or which will help others in the community.
We’re starting to use more renewable electricity
Although people are now using more electricity in their homes, the overall demand for electricity in the UK has fallen by around 10%^ because the vast majority of shops, schools, factories and offices are now closed.
This has caused both a huge drop in the wholesale price of electricity, which has fallen to its lowest level in a decade↑, as well as less demand for fossil fuels such as coal. This is burnt in the production of electricity and releases all kinds of harmful emissions.
Now that electricity is cheaper and we’ve had lots of very sunny, windy days in the last few months, our use of clean, renewable electricity from solar and wind power has increased.
On Sunday 5th March, nearly 40% of the UK’s electricity came from wind farms while another fifth was taken from solar power. In comparison, fossil fuels compromised less than 15% of this with only 1.1% of electricity that day coming from coal plants↟.
“In this way, the recent drop in electricity demand fast-forwarded some power systems 10 years into the future, suddenly giving them levels of wind and solar power they wouldn’t have had otherwise without another decade of investment in renewables,” said Dr Fatih Birol^, the executive director of the International Energy Agency.
Air pollution levels have decreased
The amount of harmful gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxide (NO2), which pose serious threat to human health and contribute to the warming of the planet, have significantly fallen now that thousands of flights have been cancelled and all but essential travel is advised.
Just a fortnight after the nationwide lockdown was put in place on 23rd March, the level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air fell by up to 60% in some UK cities↓.
You’ll be able to save money
One of the biggest benefits of the lockdown is that it gives you a chance to save some money on the things you’d normally use every month. If you’re working from home, you won’t be spending money on petrol or commuting, which could potentially save you hundreds.
You also won’t be going out to pubs, bars, clubs or other social gatherings, the cost of which can add up if you’re doing it every week. Cancelling your gym membership is another great way you can save money during this time, and you don’t even have to feel guilty about it as the gym will be closed!
Use this opportunity to see how much you’re paying for your energy and review it. With Energy Helpline, you can compare your current deal to a variety of tariffs across the energy market and see if you can save even more on your energy bills.
You don’t have to spend time commuting
Working from home means that you get to avoid the dreaded morning and evening commute which for many entails standing up on hot, cramped trains or having to sit in miles of traffic.
The average UK worker spends around 59 minutes commuting everyday (plus the amount of time you would normally spend getting ready for work) leaving you with plenty of extra time in the morning to spend how you want.
There’s more quality time to spend with family
Busy work schedules and other social commitments mean that many of us don’t get to see as much of our families as we’d like but we've now got a lot more time to spend together.
Watch a film, go for a walk or a bike ride (remembering to adhere to social distancing measures!), play a board game, create a quiz, do some arts and crafts or a fun science experiment with the kids, it’s really up to you!
You’ve got the chance to learn a new skill
Put all of your spare time to good use and take this lockdown as an opportunity to learn a new skill.
There’s a huge wealth of resources available on the internet covering everything you can think of, from YouTube videos teaching you how to juggle to a University-affiliated course in screenwriting.
^Euro News - 2020. Coronavirus crisis fast-forwards green energy 10 years into the future.
↑inews - 2020. Coronavirus: Wholesale electricity prices down to record low as demand slumps.
↟The Guardian - 2020. Thousands to be paid for daytime green electricity use during lockdown.
^IEA - 2020. Coronavirus crisis reminds us that electricity is more indispensable than ever.
↓BBC News - 2020. Coronavirus lockdown sees air pollution plummet across UK