This year 1 Million Women want to assist you to SAVE $1000 or more through cutting pollution, reducing waste and saving energy. Each month focuses on a different lifestyle area – FOOD, DRIVE, POWER, WEAR, SHOP & INVEST. We think its an awesome practical campaign and we want to help too! So we have asked some of our friends to also give their tips each month. This month’s focus is POWER and we thought it was a perfect opportunity to introduce you to Earthwise Harmony.
Flip a switch and the lights come on… turn on your computer and it springs to life… but what if this was no longer a foregone conclusion? This is a very real potential future scenario, as power demands increase and the common fuels used to run power plants – such as oil and gas- diminish.
We run a very real risk of experiencing unreliable, intermittent power supplies in the foreseeable future, unless we ALL start taking responsibility for creating new supplies and lessening our demand.
So, what are some of the things that YOU personally can do towards ensuring your access to electricity remains as stable as possible?
One of the ways you can safeguard your electricity supply is by installing solar and/or wind power generation to your home. Although expensive initially, there are currently large government rebates available for solar, as well as selling your excess power back to the grid. The system can pay for itself in a few years, and then you basically have free electricity!
For those more adventurous, there are other ways to generate power, such as pedal power; using the methane generated by human/animal waste to power generators; and using waste vegetable oil to power Lister diesel engines which then generate electricity, and provide waste heat to heat the home, to name a few.
Have a look at these archived issues of Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter, an older, but still very interesting online magazine, which covers all kinds of aspects of taking responsibility for your own power. A Yahoo group for people interested in discussing alternative power can be found here. Another great site with lots of renewable energy projects is Do It Yourself Solar: The Renewable Energy site for Do-It-Yourselfers and it’s not just about solar!
If you can’t manage, at this stage, to implement any of the above methods, at least choose a ‘green’ provider or ‘green’ option from your provider, to help offset what you use.
There are many things you can do to lessen how much power you use. A big part of it is having a conscious awareness all the time of how your habits are impacting use. You can make a lot of little changes, that don’t really have a big impact on your comfort level or lifestyle, but when added together can save quite a bit of power… which is both good for the environment and for your power bill!
Here’s some power saving tips to get you started:
Equipment, such as computers, TV’s, DVD players should be turned fully off, not left on standby. Standby power use adds up throughout your home, over time.
If you’re not using something, turn it off! That includes lights.
Share watching one TV, rather than all watching in different rooms.
Replace incandescent lighting with energy efficient alternatives such as fluorescent and LED.
Use natural light by reading or working near a window, or installing skylights.
Use motion sensor lighting, solar lights and timers, so that you don’t accidentally leave an outdoor light running for hours.
Use people powered tools rather than electric ones, where practical. Remember, your ancestors got by without them!
Set thermostats a little higher in summer and lower in winter… every degree adds a lot to your running costs!
Instead of turning on the heating, rug up in warm clothes instead, or snuggle up in a blanket.
Use fans rather than air con units, if it’s not really very hot. A damp face washer or mist spray bottle will help cool you even more, once the air blows across damp skin.
Make your home draught-proof. Revive the old ‘door snake’ like grandma used to use.
Don’t waste energy heating empty rooms. Heat or cool only the areas you are actually using.
Let cool breezes in during the cool of the evening.
Use plants to help shade windows and walls. Deciduous trees are especially useful, as they will protect your home in summer, but allow the sun to warm your home in winter, once their leaves have fallen.
Use the power of the sun to heat your water with a solar water heater.
Set your water heater thermostat lower, especially in summer.
Don’t waste heated water by just running the tap- put the plug in!
Insulate your hot water pipes to lessen heat loss. Every bit of heat you lose means more energy to heat it to the required temperature.
Locate hot water service close to the areas where hot water will be used most, to lessen the distance the water has to travel, and therefore how much heat is lost.
Showering with a partner will save how much water you have to heat.
Wash clothes in cold water, unless hot is really needed.
Use that magical free clothes dryer- the sun! Clothes dryers use a lot of power, and really aren’t necessary at most times of the year, especially here in Australia.
Preferably operate washing machines and dishwashers when full.
Don’t use your oven on very hot days, if you can avoid it, to stop from adding to the heat in your home… but do consider using it on cold days to help warm your home. Ovens are energy hungry however, so using other cooking methods will save energy.
Use steamer saucepans or make one pot meals, to limit the number of saucepans you are heating. Don’t forget to keep lids on, to lessen heat loss.
Have the right size fridge/freezer for your circumstances, keep it in good condition, and make sure the thermostat is set to the right temperature.
The Australian Government site Energy Rating gives appliance comparisons for energy use, so that you can find the most energy efficient one for your purposes. Here’s an article with even more ideas about saving electricity. 70 Tips For Saving Energy in Your Home. It goes through several specific aspects, such as Entertainment, Lighting, Heating & Cooling and Food Storage & Preparation, with ideas for cutting back power use in each. There are lots of other environmental articles on our site, covering all aspects of living in an environmentally friendly way, so feel free to drop in and have a browse.
I hope this has given you some ideas you can put into practise immediately…. and others that you can work into a longer term plan. Pass them on to your friends and family, because the more people we can get making these changes in their lives, the better off our communities and our environment will be.
I wish you well on your exciting journey into a sustainable and resilient future!
About the author: Anthea Hudson is the co founder of Earthwise Harmony, your ‘go to’ place for information, discussions, interviews and practical tips on matters relating to the environment, sustainability, self sufficiency, climate change, peak oil and other relevant topics. A place where you can share your challenges and triumphs and hear about what others are doing. Connect with Earthwise Harmony on Facebook and Twitter.