Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Sorry, another energy related post......

The Department of Energy and Climate Change have released new data on domestic energy use for the whole of the UK for 2010. You can find the original data here. The legends that are the Guardian datablog team have presented some of these data in Google fusion (click to access) in a similar way to the fuel poverty data I talked about in a previous blog post.

The data relates to really specific areas called Middle Layer Super Output Areas. This isn't quite as detailed as the data I used for the fuel poverty maps, but with each Middle layer representing about 5,000 odd people, it's still really useful. The Guardian have only mapped electricity and gas so rural areas wont be fully represented as a lot will be on fuel oil and LPG.

Multi coloured Scotland (from an energy perspective)
Anyway, enough of the energy geekness. I think the fusion maps would be a really good way of representing how much electricity and gas the average home uses. The ability to present the data at various scales could allow comparisons between different areas and also encourage pupils to think of the importance of scale and place. The class could be encouraged to think about why some areas might use more energy than others; Is it due to affluence, weather, location? It helps that you can click on each sub area and compare the consumption in that output area with the UK average which is useful. It's quite interesting as there doesn't seem to be an overwhelming correlation with wealth. But, the richer you are the more insulation and new build  homes you can afford resulting in less energy, whilst the poorer you are the less energy you can afford full stop.

It would be interesting to get pupils to bring in their parents' energy bills and try to work out whether they sit above or below the average energy use for where they live. What solutions can they think of to ensure everyone has access to green, affordable energy? Different groups of pupils could be given the data for different parts of the UK and a fixed budget and energy saving kit list to spend their money on. What would they choose? Why?

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