Tyumen looks to lead on energy efficiency

Tyumen is one of a number of regional Russian cities participating in a pilot project aimed at slashing energy consumption, with each having already set up special energy efficient areas.

45 average apartment buildings and 13 thousand residents on a mission to go green, with the houses in Tyumen having had their windows replaced and low-energy lamps installed. Special equipment to track and regulate energy has also been set up in the buildings.

Mikhail Namyatov, the Tyumen chief of energy saving, says the plan involves working out how energy can be saved and subsidies for energy saving measures.

“First, energy efficiency measures are assessed. Then the ones that can pay off and where business can be involved are chosen. If the business doesn’t have enough money, the administration of Tyumen subsidises a loan.”

It’s hoped energy consumption will be reduced by 30%, and each family will cut their public utility bills by a quarter with these measures. The next step is for several of the houses to be painted with nanotechnology paint. Just one millimeter of it replaces 20 centimeters of rockwool insulation and it’s 7 times cheaper than siding.

This paint was once top secret and was used to cover the outside of space ships. Although, for the most part, the best ways to use less energy are not rocket science, with Elvira Nabiullina, Economic Development minister, stressing that the Russian way of thinking is one of the key obstacles on the way to a more energy efficient society.

“One of the most important questions is how to persuade the public to becoming energy efficient. It’s no secret that this is not part of the culture. We’ve always had cheap and available resources.”

Klaus Sorensen, commercial counselor in Denmark, says the government should start with the municipal heating system.

“If we look at the power sector, at the district heating sector, there is room for improvement, as not much has been done in the last 20 years – renovation of pipelines , boiler renovation. We should start with the primary sources, it doesn’t help if we save a lot in the buildings.”

However, ministers want to give the public an economic incentive by making individuals pay for the energy they consume.

High tech gadgets and innovations are admirable, but nothing beats some good old fashioned energy saving techniques, like turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth and fixing a leaking toilet and tap can save a staggering 160 thousand liters of water a year per household. That's about 800 baths. And other simple measures include turning off the light when you’re not in the room, as according to some estimates a third of the electricity is wasted on empty spaces.