If you are trying to go greener and move towards a sustainable, zero waste lifestyle, energy saving will be an important part of the picture. The more you can do to move away from the use of fossil fuels and non-renewable energy sources the better.
Of course, a big part of reducing energy use is considering what you buy. Remember, almost everything you buy has taken energy to grow and/or make. Think about where that energy came from, and if it was a polluting source, how you can move away from that and find better alternatives.
It is also important to think about energy saving in your home. But before we get onto energy saving measures, let's consider how we might be able to choose better energy sources and become more energy self-reliant:
Become More Energy Self-Reliant
Ideally, we should all be switching to 100 % renewable energy. Home owners may be able to:
- Install solar panels to make the most of the energy provided by the sun.
- Think about passive solar design – creating more windows on the south side of your home
(in the northern hemisphere) and making sure there is plenty of thermal mass (stone, brick, ceramics etc.) to absorb the sun's heat are other ways to make the most of the energy from the sun.
- Install a wind turbine.
- Take advantage of geothermal heat.
- Utilise the power of running water if there is a stream or other watercourse nearby.
Even where it is not possible to install your own means of renewable power generation, you may still be able to afford a small additional cost to switch to a renewable energy supplier for your mains electricity.
Even if you cannot have a full solar installation right now, you may still be able to utilize solar power for some applications in and around your home. For example, you could:
- Run outside solar lighting.
- Install a solar powered security system. (security lighting, alarms and other features can all be run from dedicated solar panels.)
- Use solar power to run a water feature in your garden, or a pump for an aquaponics or irrigation system.
- Purchase another solar powered appliance such as a fan, radio or portable lantern.
- Create or purchase a solar oven to cook food without reliance on the grid.
- Create or buy a solar food dehydrator to help you store food more effectively.
Energy Saving Measures
Whether or not you have a full renewable power installation right now, some ways in which you can reduce your energy use in your home include:
- Purchasing the most efficient appliances possible.
- Replacing your lightbulbs with low energy LED alternatives.
- Improving the insulation in your home to reduce heating and cooling costs. (Even simple things like adding thick curtains and draft excluders can make a big difference.)
- Switching to sustainable heating or cooling solutions. (For example, using a solid fuel stove run on wood or eco briquettes, or a natural ventilation system.)
- Boiling water in a closed kettle rather than in an open pan and placing the lids on pans while cooking.
- Getting into the habit of switching off lights and electrical items when they are not in use.
- Using your washing machine less, and air drying your clothes.