Julia Hailes MBE

Sustainability Pioneer


Probably the issue that got most response in both my interview and serialisation of The New Green Consumer Guide in the Telegraph, was about the aga. On the one hand a number of people have been critical of me for being an aga owner and having the nerve to preach about green issues. I agree. As I say in the book ‘I have one of the most inefficient cooking appliances known to man..’ On the other hand people have welcomed the fact that I’m not a perfect green because it makes them feel there’s something everyone can do to improve.

The really frustrating thing about my aga is that it was quite a logistical nightmare getting it installed – and now I wish I hadn’t done it. I can’t say that I thought it was a good eco-measure at the time but I didn’t realise quite how bad it was. That discovery came about when I had it serviced and asked the aga repair man how much oil it got through each week – 35 litres in the case of a four door version. This is more than an average family uses for all their energy needs. Oh dear.

Bill and Betty Swords sent me an email saying they thought they were much more environmentally-friendly than me – they were clearly unimpressed by my aga. To atone for my sins I actually turn the aga off for at least half the year – and I avoid turning the central heating on until my fingers and toes have gone numb! Actually, once you get used to a relatively cold house, it’s not so bad -a few minutes of real discomfort when you emerge from under the covers in the morning, otherwise warm clothes do the trick.

Returning home from a speech-making trick last week, I spotted a lady on the train reading the final part of the Telegraph serialisation. I asked her what she thought before admitting that it was written by me! She was particularly interested in the story about my aga – it made her think about how much her homely cooking appliance used. I may not be Joanna Trollope but I’ve managed to produce a very different type of aga saga….



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  1. I am thinking about buying an AGA, but have reservations due to its high gas consumption. Would you recommend me not to go ahead? My heart wants one but my head keeps telling me that I can’t possibly. I wonder if I will enjoy cooking on it, knowing how bad it is – or will I just feel guilt?.

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