“Getting rid of things I don’t need makes me happy – and can also benefit others.”

The Kauppi family

Who: project manager Anna, dermatologist Sampsa, and their children Sofia, 9, and Kristian, 11
Where: Hartikkala, 6 km from the centre of Lappeenranta
Home: A detached house built in 1999, natural gas heating 
The Kauppi family

Home from China and towards sustainable daily life

The Kauppi family returned home to Finland this autumn after spending two years living in China. On their return, they started a sustainable daily life pilot in which the family proactively tested a variety of ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

Comparing their years in China to the sustainable daily life pilot sounds like a good starting point for going through the results.

“Yes, in China we started thinking how some things are only in their infancy over there compared to how well many things are going in Finland, such as recycling,” says the father, Sampsa.

Carbon footprint falls by more than a fifth

Before the pilot, the family’s carbon footprint was about 7.8 tons of CO2 per person per year. This figure fell by almost a fifth (about 22 per cent) during their month-long pilot, ending up at about 6.1 tons of CO2 per person per year.

The biggest change they made was to invest in a solar power system. Their partner in this was Elektroway Oy. Elektroway offered all pilot households free consultations for solar power systems, air-source heat pumps, and water-source heat pumps.

The roof of the Kauppi family home is now covered in 21 solar panels with a total rated capacity of about 5.8 kW. It’s estimated that the panels will generate just under 4,000 kWh of electricity per year. During the interview, Sampsa checked his phone to see how much electricity the panels had generated to date.

“This app shows you, in real time, not only how much electricity has been generated, but also how much electricity the house is consuming. In November, the panels have been generating some electricity between 10 am and 3 pm, but not enough to cover our consumption even when the house is empty. I know this is a rather odd time of year to install a solar power system, but it’s a long-term investment.”

After the consultation, Elektroway showed the family what kinds of solar power systems they could provide, how they worked, and what benefits they would bring. They also went through the property’s energy consumption: how and where electricity was being consumed, what kind of loads are being caused by electricity consumption, and how the family uses the property. They also checked the installation area, distribution board, and other installation requirements. The installation itself took about 3-4 working days.

“Correctly scaling a solar power system depends on the property’s annual consumption and hourly load. The Kauppi family were also looking to purchase a hybrid or electric car, so we purposefully gave them a slightly larger system. If required, it will also be easy to add an additional battery to the system in the future,” says Viljami Mehiläinen, Elektroway’s CEO.

Rather than choosing a traditional system, the Kauppi family opted for a smart system instead. In a smart system, every panel is an individual unit: for example, shadows or trash over a particular panel will affect only that panel, not the system as a whole – and this will enable you to get more power out of the system. Panel-specific production can also be monitored, making it easier to predict maintenance requirements.

“The price difference between the system we installed for the Kauppi family and a traditional system of the same size is in the range of EUR 1,200–1,300.”

A successful trial

Let’s return to the Kauppi family’s other undertakings during the pilot. In their daily lives, the family reduced their environmental loading in a number of areas related to food and transport. They also got rid of some unnecessary stuff.

“We rented an electric car from Autotalo Ripatti for two days. I used it to drive to work in Imatra and it was an interesting experience. We’ve also been diligently KonMari-ing our home: we’ve already gone through all of the children’s things and are halfway through our own. Getting rid of things I don’t need makes me happy – and can also benefit others. We sold our unwanted things on tori.fi, and bought secondhand downhill and crosscountry skiing equipment for the kids.

We also tried S-Market’s grocery bag service and home delivery service. We replaced our lightbulbs with led lamps, favoured trains when travelling, and bought food that was nearing its use-by date. We also tested ResQ Club and Matsmart, that is, services that enable you to buy food that would otherwise be thrown away,” says the mother, Anna.

The family is satisfied with how their pilot went. They felt it was the right length, and that it was easy to find areas in which they could make savings and create a roadmap for more sustainable daily life – and that map will continue to guide them on their journey.

“It was a positive surprise how much we were able to reduce our family’s carbon footprint. The solar panels and led lamps are, of course, here to stay. We’ll also continue buying food that is nearing its sell-by date and using ResQ Club. And I believe that we’ll also make use of S-Market’s home delivery service for groceries – it was really handy and makes everyday life easier.

I also like the KonMari ideology and intend to bear it in mind in the future. You can buy less and fix things that break,” says Anna.

Sampsa is particularly pleased by how easy it was to take part in the pilot.

“They’ve made it easy to get involved, and we weren’t pressured into anything at all during the pilot. Everyone is allowed to take part according to their own resources.”