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  • Young Climate Warriors

A humble cup of tea ... how much water do you normally boil?

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

Brrr, it’s pretty cold outside… time for a nice hot drink? Your challenge this week - next time your parent or carer would like a cup of tea, can you offer to make it for them and help reduce carbon emissions by only boiling as much water as you need? Please remember to ask your parent or carer before using the kettle.

It only takes a few minutes to boil a kettle so it can’t use that much energy, right? Wrong. Kettles actually require a much larger blast of energy during the short time they are in use than most other appliances. An average kettle uses as much energy in the 3 minutes or so it takes to boil a litre of water as an energy-efficient LED light bulb uses in ten hours!

When it comes to making that cuppa, you might need to do some experimenting with measurements first. Some kettles have a measuring gauge on the side, like a ruler … do you know how big your mugs are? Can you fill them with cold water and then pour this into a measuring jug to find out? If your kettle doesn’t have a measuring gauge you might need to pour the cold water from your mug into the kettle to get just the right amount.

Remember to HIT THE RED BUTTON when you have brewed a lovely cuppa, and helped lower your family’s carbon emissions.

Did you know a spike in energy demand can be seen when a popular TV show finishes and people around the country all jump up and put their kettle on at the same time. This is called a ‘TV pick-up’. The biggest spike ever – equivalent to more than a million kettles being turned on at the same time - came in 1990, after England were knocked out of the Football World Cup in the semi-finals.

Can you think of any other appliances that might also use a lot of energy in a short amount of time? (Clue: think about things that need to generate a lot of heat quickly, just like a kettle…) You’ll find one in the ‘Did You Know’ section below.

Only boiling the water you need won’t make as much of an impact as some of the other fantastic challenges you’ve taken this year – like turning your heating thermostat down or walking instead of driving – but once you’ve sussed out the measurements it’s an easy thing to do whenever you boil the kettle … and as the ‘TV pick-up’ spikes in demand show, and as Young Climate Warriors know – little by little, a little becomes a lot!

We’re quite excited to have produced a ‘lockdown’ assembly - ‘Little by little, a little becomes a lot’ – you may watch it at school, but if you’d like to share it with your family here is the link.

Remember to HIT THE RED BUTTON when you have completed this challenge!


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