x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

You can keep cool and conserve, too

As the hot summer approaches, conservation will be key in sustaining the UAE's water and electricity resources.

It's so cold inside some buildings that it could fool penguins - and it does. Groups of waddlers made themselves comfortable in Dubai and Al Ain aquariums last year, with special rooms adjusted to sub-zero temperatures.

Other energy-intensive pursuits the Emirates has developed - golf courses, ice-skating rinks and man-made islands - have strained the country's resources as the UAE strives to become more eco-friendly.

But it is the day-to-day consumption of energy rather than novelty attractions that has caused the Emirates to win the dubious honour of having the world's largest carbon footprint. As we report today, the staggering 550 litres of water used per person per day, accompanied by the 9,000 megawatts needed to power air-conditioners at the height of the summer, reveal that the Emirates needs a new strategy for how to make users aware of just how much they consume.

Some attempts have already been made to change minds. Abu Dhabi's energy and water authority, Adwea, has launched campaigns to raise awareness about conserving water and electricity. Dubai's utilities authority, meanwhile, began charging 15 per cent more on water and electricity this year, while also adding a fuel surcharge to bills. While these measures may not reduce consumption, they certainly heighten awareness that water and power are costly to produce - and should be used smartly.

On a commercial level, there are steps that can be taken as well to cut down on consumption. Besides reducing overall air-conditioning temperatures by a few degrees, cooling systems need to be checked, cleaned, and their parts replaced. This not only maintains their efficiency, but cuts down on having to replace units that have fallen into disrepair.

Couple these measures with the eco-smart techniques in agricultural irrigation the country's farmers have adopted, and it makes for a brighter future - one powered by smart, rather than excessive - consumption.