Monitoring energy use
Most of our energy globally is supplied from fossil fuels but increasingly energy suppliers now have a mix of renewable energy sources for domestic users.
Customers can also generate their own energy by installing solar panels on homes and sell back the surplus onto the energy grid. Over time they make back the money from initial cost of having solar panels.
Renewable energy technology keeps evolving but has been viable for a while.
What you can do
Switch to renewable energy sources from sources that can be regularly replenished - wind, sun, and water.
Power generation companies globally are supplying a mix of renewables to the grid. Contact your power suppliers and find out how much they have invested in renewable energy and how much they use?
Install rooftop solar panels to capture sun’s energy and convert it into electricity. The cost and taxes vary across the world. Choose between outright ownership and other schemes offering free solar leasing that covers the cost of the solar energy system, with the homeowner being charged for the amount of energy used for a specific period of time. These usually work out cheaper than from the utilitity company.
With solar panel ownership the homeowner receives 100% of the renewable energy and any excess is sold back to the grid. The outlay of costs is usually recouped within a few years of installation.
Solar thermal panels or solar water heaters, harness sunlight to heat hot water. They are similar to PV solar panels. The sun heats the temperature of liquid in the panels which in turn heats water in a tank ready for use. They only heat water, but can be installed alongside some other hot water heating systems.
What others have done
Solar Air Conditioning uses the same principles of a solar water heater but uses the hot water in air conditioning systems. Conventional air conditioners use more electricity than other home applicances. Some AC systems can be configured to heat the home and produce hot water.
Air Source Heat Pumps use heat from the outside air to provide heating and hot water. They use similar technology to that of a fridge but in reverse. Heat pumps are silent and give significant annual savings.
Wind Turbine technology has improved and wind power is more stable than solar, but wind speeds of 10 -12 miles (mph) are required to produce significant power. The taller tower the greater the speed and power.
Hydropower plants are a continuous stable source of power from fast moving water. Depending on whether homes are near flowing water sources small scale hydroelectric systems (micro hydropower) can be installed.
Geothermal Energy comes from the heat below the earth’s surface. This clean energy supplies continuous renewable power. It is common place in areas with high geothermal activity. Depending on where people live geothermal heat pumps can be fitted into homes. It requires shallow ground temperatures and is dependent on specific geological, hydrological and spatial characteristics of the land.
Use less energy
SWITCH OFF appliances, lights, fans, ACs, heating and computers when not using them
UNPLUG appliances at night - this will have a dramatic drop in energy use.
CHANGE USE of your space by maximizing multipurpose use in fewer rooms to cut down on heating or cooling
ADJUST the THERMOMETER - best cooling temperature is 24-25C and best heating is 19-22C
REFRESH AIR FILTERS - replacing a dirty air filter and cleaning regularly is the simplest and most inexpensive maintenance job that can vastly increase energy efficiency of heating and cooling systems
KEEP HEAT OUT by closing blinds and curtains during the hottest part of the day
MULTI PANE WINDOWS these double or triple paned windows help lower heating and cooling costs
INSULATE and DRAUGHT PROOF older homes in cold weather areas. 25% of all heating is lost through roofs as warm air rises, so insulating roof/loft spaces can save up to 30% on heating and cooling costs.
INSULATE WALLS - heat can be retained by insulating cavity cavity walls
INSULATE HOT WATER PIPES to prevent freezing or bursting in extreme cold but speeds up hot water becoming hot
CHANGE LIGHTBULBS to LED (Light Emitting Diode) which last 10 times longer than fluorescent bulbs and are very energy efficient
INSTALL DIMMER SWITCHES to tailor the amount of electricity used
Switch to energy saving devices
GREEN APPLIANCES. Modern energy labels makes it easier to choose the best energy efficient home appliances especially in the kitchen. The most commonly used Energy Star rating explains the energy consumptions for the model. Previously the best was 5 star ratings but modern technology has improved efficiencies with new models having up to 10 stars.
ELECTRONICS can drain energy. LED TVs are more efficient and laptops use less energy than desktop computers.
Call for change
There have been mixed responses by governments globally in supporting business growth and citizens wanting to install renewable sources.
The cost in some countries and cities have been subsidized by way of grants.
The highly influential fossil fuel lobbies globally have slowed the conversion to use of renewables.
Increased citizen concern, global demonstrations, and younger environmental awareness is propelling us all forward.
Attaining the UN's Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and being signatory to the Paris Accord on climate change are some of the ways in which we can encourage our governments, companies and fossil fuel providers to change the options we all have on future energy use.