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In recent months, a Tik Tok craze has arisen in which women have been filming themselves asking how often the men in their lives think about the Roman Empire. It would seem us men think about the Roman Empire a lot. I am no exception. I have recently been thinking about examples of co-ordination and synchronisation, of which Roman soldiers are a brilliant example.


For a long period of time armies, often far greater in number to their Roman foes would fall foul of their opponents’ superior organisation. Centurions formed close well drilled groups and were able to synchronise their actions to create an effect far greater that the sum of their parts.


More recently, another example of such collective impact has been reported from the most unlikely of sources – Taylor Swift’s latest arena tour. In what has been dubbed the ‘Swift Quake’, fans at the pop star’s eras tour managed to jump up and down with such synchrony that they caused seismic activity equivalent to a decent sized earthquake.


In both examples, groups of people with similar vested interests align their efforts over short periods to create outcomes greater than that which could have been achieved by working separately over more time. This encapsulates the idea behind One Week. As I’ve said before, teamwork on such a focused scale could be used to address all manner of issues but the upcoming event, running from 19th November to 26th November, will focus once more on going the extra mile to save as much energy as possible for seven days.


Energy is, as ever, hugely topical. The regulator’s decision to pass the opening of a new oil field comes just a month before COP 28. The oil field is said to have the potential capacity to produce around 70,000 barrels of oil a day and has the potential to produce 300 million barrels of oil in total by 2033. And yet, if all businesses and households in the UK took part in One Week and saved just 11% of their normal weekly energy usage (as we easily managed in our first One Week), it would save 1.4 million barrels of oil in just one week.


Effectively, it’s an entire oil field opened to power our computer monitors overnight when no one is using them, to light up the surplus light bulbs that we have on for no reason other than habit, to needlessly illuminate office buildings overnight, to draw power from plugged in TVs and appliances while on standby. Put bluntly, it’s a quick fix to facilitate laziness and wasteful luxury.



The contrast between our need to preserve resources, protect the natural world and save money with measures such as this is quite stark. But unless we as a society demonstrate that we can make changes in order to steer our own destiny, decisions will always be made for us that in the short term are felt to be necessary and maybe even popular in some circles but that ultimately will only deepen the problems we face.


Through One Week, we need to provide an option for those at the top to call for immediate and high impact change through one of the few infinite resources we have - a bit of community spirit and some good old fashioned British hard work - not just for energy saving but for any potential problems we face. That’s why, over the next month, we need to make as many people as possible aware of One Week so we can maximise the number taking part. We can demonstrate what can be done with a bit of community spirit and coordination.


If you want to join in, make sure you measure your normal meter readings now as well as over One Week so you can compare the two. Keep an eye on the website and social media, post what you get up to and tell everyone you can to get involved


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It begins at sunset on 19th November and runs until the following Sunday. Good luck!





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I don’t think I can be alone in thinking how much energy must be wasted by the numerous office buildings and shops lit up at night with no one in them. It’s a thought I’ve had many times over the years but, as soon as all the unnecessary illuminations are out of sight, the thought always recedes.

Perhaps partly as a result of that, I’ve had a fairly simple idea in the back of my mind for quite some time, written down on a scrap of paper hitherto ignored or put to one side. The idea is based on the fact that we, as humans, are actually capable of some quite impressive feats individually but when we get together are collectively capable of the extraordinary. Unfortunately, often this is driven not out of simple curiosity but out of necessity – the codebreakers at Bletchley Park during WW2 for example or the incredible collective effort that made the Dunkirk evacuations possible or more recently the rapid development of covid vaccines.

The collective ability to deploy such ingenuity and hard work is always available. It is simply hiding in plain sight, sometimes deployed elsewhere and other times not at all.

Last week, as some of you may be aware, was the first One Week event. It was designed to utilize some of this unspent community effort by giving it a focus (energy consumption) and some coordination.

Energy is something that is very topical at the moment and many people have no choice but to limit their usage as much as possible. But, thinking back to the office buildings, this is not the case across the board. As the idea grew, I knew there was certainly more I could be doing to bring my energy consumption down and of course many people are already making sure they turn lights off and are saving energy where they can. One Week, however, asked people to go above and beyond their usual in that endeavour.

While the general message for energy saving is quite widespread, it tends only to skim off the tip of an iceberg of potential savings. The idea behind going all out for one week is to make a significant impact all in one go.

Between the 8th and 15th January, during our very first pilot One Week, I tried to lead by example. At home I had the lights off most of the time. I used appliances only when absolutely needed and when not in use everything was unplugged (a minor inconvenience, but just for one week!). It’s thought that around 10% of a household’s energy consumption is from appliances that are plugged in but not in use.

To go the extra mile, the television remained off for the whole week, which gave me a chance to do other things (candlelit dinners, board games, reading by torchlight). The overall feel was a nice change if I’m honest. And that’s part of the design. To provide a bit of a change, bring people together, all in the knowledge that others are doing their part too.

I also made the decision to have cold showers for the week which is not for everyone I know but actually I found this far less challenging than avoiding hot tea or coffee for those seven days – that was a real slog!

One of the most rewarding parts of the week was seeing how enthusiastic some of the schools that took part were. Particular thanks go to Rupert House, Gillotts, Badgemore and Shiplake College for taking part and recording some of the efforts made. Of course, while a lot of energy can be saved in one go, a key side effect of the event is in raising awareness of our need to save energy and there is no better place to start than with the younger generation. My thanks also go to the local Council who got involved by turning out their lights at the Town Hall throughout the week and to Greener Henley who have provided some valuable support and advice.

At the GP surgery where I work, we managed to save a total of 172 kWh of energy compared to a normal week (a kWh is the amount of power needed to power a 1,000 watt appliance for an hour) – about 11% of the usual consumption and enough to boil 1,720 kettles – a good achievement I think. I managed to save a further 20kWh from home.

I have calculated that if all businesses in the UK saved 11% of their energy consumption for a week and all homes saved 20kWh power, it would save 907 million kWh of energy which is equivalent to 1.4 million barrels of oil.

The saving in just that one week therefore equates to

- the annual CO2 emissions produced by 138,497petrol vehicles

- the annual CO2 emissions of 1.6 natural gas fired power plants

- the greenhouse gas emissions avoided by 175 wind turbines over a year

- the carbon sequestered annually by 10.6 million tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

Hopefully that shows that the small gains made by us as individuals can have a significant collective impact in a very short space of time. Particularly if you consider that I’ve not even included the energy consumed by transport which accounts for 40% of the total UK figure. Not quite as easy to measure but, for one week, it’s just as easy to reduce.

One Week is a project that I have developed gradually in snatched moments of my own time. It’s been fun and at the same time quite eye opening. It gives people a chance, if embraced, to take some ownership of the problems we face rather than relying on answers from elsewhere and is also a good chance for us to perhaps readjust some of our perspectives on the elements of our lives that we progressively take for granted. Having been just another person, vaguely aware of climate issues and the ins and outs of energy beforehand, it has certainly had that effect on me.

And don’t forget, it can be fun and may even spawn some new habits. You don’t have to take a cold shower to make that difference. Everyone will have their own ways of saving but simply saying ‘I do that already anyway’ is not enough unless you are living completely off grid. It’s only for one week after all. One Week doesn’t always have to be about energy. It can be applied to any problem to which a simple collective solution is applicable. As the slogan goes, large numbers in small sacrifices for huge rewards. It’s a chance to recapture a bit of that Dunkirk spirit of old. So if there is anyone out there that took part, I’d love to hear from you either via the ‘contact’ page on the website: www.oneweekuk.co.uk. Likewise, in order to make the next one even more successful, I would welcome all the suggestions, ideas, contacts and advice I can get.

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We have come to the end of the very first One Week and I am pleased to say it seems to have been a huge success.


I really grateful to the many people, businesses and households that have been joining in, whether it be simply keeping unnecessary lights off, eating dinner by candle light or even more extreme measures. At the GP surgery where I work, everyone has been diligent in keeping lights off when not needed and in turning computers and monitors off at the wall throughout the week and the preliminary readings compared to the week before show a really significant saving. It will be a day or so before I get the full figures all sorted so stay tuned for that.


One of the highlights for me has been seeing the superb efforts from the local schools around Henley. They have really embraced the concept and it's very encouraging to see how enthusiastic the children have been. From spot checks on lights, assemblies highlighting the project, no tech Tuesdays and an hour without power, the efforts from teachers and students alike is very much appreciated.


My week has been interesting.


At work, I have been working in minimum light where possible and taking part in all of those measures already mentioned. Having dreamt it all up though, I felt an obligation to really go all out to show what can be done. As such, at home I have practically lived in darkness for the week. The TV and all other appliances have remained unplugged for the duration. Of course, I've had to charge my phone and laptop but once done, the chargers have been unplugged at the wall. I have had ice cold showers all week, which I must say has actually been quite refreshing. The hardest part was to ensure the kettle saw no action for seven days which meant I have not had a tea or coffee for that period. In the spirit of One Week, that means I didn't have any at work or from coffee shops either.


Although it's not something that I have previously been even remotely excited about, I must confess I could barely wait to check my meter readings this afternoon to see how I had done in comparison to the week before.


I'm pleased to say that I managed to save 20kWh over the week, which is equivalent to the power needed to boil 200 kettles.

Importantly, while there were some minor inconveniences this week, it was still entirely achievable and made no discernible impact on my daily routine. I got everything I needed doing done. And it was actually quite fun. Cosy nights in with candles instead of lights is a bit of a change after all. Some of my colleagues have said they actually found it more calming without the glare of the main lights on at the surgery and all of that is leaving out the other obvious benefit - saving money!


But all of these are secondary benefits. One Week's primary focus is on addressing a national or even international issue that effects everyone and in the case of energy, that is one of supply against demand, affordability and cost of living and, crucially, climate and biodiversity. In taking a big chunk out of consumption in a short space of time, One Week can impact on all of the above.


If every household in the UK saved what I did over one week, it would equate roughly to 494 million kWh (bare in mind this is a low estimate as I live in a relatively small flat), which is equivalent to 790,400 barrels of oil.


One Week serves as a demonstration of what we can do with a bit of collaboration whilst also representing a chance for us to readjust some perspective on the things we take for granted.

As a pilot initiative, One Week has shown that there are enormous amounts of otherwise untapped potential just waiting to be utilised or saved. All that is lacking is awareness of the fact and a bit of coordination.


While this week may now be over, One Week is just getting started. Later this year, on a date yet to be confirmed, we will be doing it again, only much more widespread. Over the next week, I will be gathering evidence of everyone's achievements and producing more figures on how much we saved at the surgery amongst others. There may even be a bit of a video summarising it all. So keep following and let's make next time even more spectacular!


Ps. Don't forget there's still time to get your meter readings into the website or post how much you managed to save on twitter @oneweekuk or on instagram (one_week_uk). I'd love to hear how you got on.

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