Conservation of Energy and Resources: How Can We Conserve Electricity?
We have, for so long, taken for granted that electricity will always be available at the touch of button or the press of a switch. In fact, the majority of us could not possibly envisage a life without our gadgets and the luxury of hot water, heating or instant light.
However our energy needs are growing and our resources shrinking, which is why we need to learn how we can conserve electricity and adopt new and better habits. According to industry experts, our current reserves of coal and gas are depleting at such a rate that if we continue to use energy as we currently do, our coal reserves will be completely depleted in around 200 years, and our oil reserves will have all but vanished in forty years.
How Can We Conserve Water?
Our supply of water is also decreasing at an alarming rate while our consumption is growing. Read How do we conserve natural resources? Best water conservation methods for more details.
Why Do We Need To Conserve Electricity?
Our over reliance on fossil fuels is a worrying issue, and whilst green technology has enabled us to develop renewable energy sources, these only account for a fraction of our total usage.
The World Wildlife Federation indicate that in the UK, less than 3% of our electricity usage is provided by renewables and only accounts for less than 1% of our overall energy usage. We clearly have a long way to go before we can rely completely on green energy!
In the meantime, CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere every time we burn fossil fuels, which some scientists argue is significantly changing our climate patterns. As yet, scientists are uncertain as to what the full implications of these emissions will be overtime. However, they do know that our weather is changing drastically and envisage that these changes may result in:
- An overall increase in the rates of skin cancer due to increased exposure to UV light.
- More than a quarter of the world's animals and species of plants may become extinct, which could have profound effects on our eco-system.
- In less than 100 years, the world's sea levels could rise by more than a meter.
- As opposed to seeing floods just once or twice every hundred years, we will be witnessing these natural disasters every 10 to 20 years.
And the list goes on!
According to the IPCC, the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions [made up from 57% co2] comes from the burning of oil, natural gas and coal for electricity and heat.
How Can We Conserve Electricity? Electronics and Gadgets.
In an ideal world we would all have the funds to install solar panels on our homes, and whilst there are obvious environmental and cost saving motivators to do so, the initial investment is beyond the means of many people. As such, there are other methods; some free and some with a small cost attached, but which pay for themselves in a relatively short period by reducing our electricity bills.
According to the US Department of Energy, 75% of electricity usage to power electronics is used when the gadgets are switched off. However, when they are connected to the energy supply they continue to use power, consequently, one of the most obvious ways to save electricity is to unplug electronics when not in use. Invest in a power strip if you have a number of appliances or they are plugged into areas which are hard to reach. This way, you can simply turn off the power strip as opposed to unplugging each appliance. The average home will reduce their electricity consumption by 6% when adopting this practice.
How Can We Conserve Electricity? Lighting and Kitchen Appliances.
By far one of the greatest savings when it comes to electricity usage is replacing standard bulbs with the low energy variety. The initial outlay is sightly higher but these products will pay for themselves in a very short period of time.
Depending on the brand, these bulbs will have a life span of between three and nine years, they are also far more energy efficient than standard bulbs saving money and power. In areas where bright light is needed, opt for one high wattage bulb as opposed to multiple lower wattage bulbs. And, of course, always switch off lights when you leave the room and only switch on the lights when there isn't adequate daylight.
Keep your fridge-freezer no less than three quarters full, but do not overload either. This appliance is most efficient when air is allowed to circulate, or when it's more than half full. Don't worry if you do not have enough produce/food to keep both the fridge and freezer three quarters full, you can use bottles of water to fill the space. Defrost your freezer regularly to ensure optimal performance. Likewise, keep the condenser coils dust free which can improve efficiency and electricity usage by 25%.
If you are using a kettle to boil water, only boil the amount you need to use and no more. Use a kettle descaler to collect any limescale deposits, keeping your kettle efficient and reducing energy costs further. When it comes to replacing your kettle, opt for one of the eco-kettles and heat the water on a gas top stove. Gas is far quicker and more efficient at heating water then electricity and gas is also slightly cheaper.
Use the eco-options on your dishwasher, tumble dryer and washing machine if you have them, and only use these appliances once you have a full load. Unless laundry is heavily soiled, you wash your laundry on the 30 degree setting, reducing energy consumption by 25% over the year.. Always ensure that you remove the lint from the filter of the tumble dryer after use and dry one load straight after another. You'll save electricity because the dryer is already hot and does not need to heat up to a particular temperature.
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