How to reduce your energy consumption

The following is a list of things each of us can do to reduce our energy consumption. It's based mostly on excellent lectures The Science of Energy: Resources and Power Explained by Professor Michael E. Wysession and The Great Courses.

In general

  • Recycle. It takes less energy to reuse materials than to make them from scratch.
  • Avoid disposable items and low quality products that don’t last long.
  • Purchase local food/products. Local products require less energy for transportation.
  • Eat less packaged food. It takes energy to make packaging.
  • Reduce amount of food you throw away. 40% of food is lost in the US during different stages from production to consumption.
  • Turn off electronic devices completely when they are not in use instead of leaving them in standby or sleep mode. 75% of electricity from electronics is consumed when they are not on.
  • Buy energy efficient house appliances (fridge, washing machine).

Water

Heating water requires enormous amount of energy.

  • Heat just enough water to fill your cup when making a hot drink. Heating extra water is wasteful.
  • Use lower temperature setting in your washing machine. Your clothes will also last longer.
  • Reduce time spent in the shower.

House

  • Use electricity provider that gets energy from renewable sources.
  • In summer, stick reflective film to your windows. Blinds and curtains don't prevent heat from getting into your house.
  • Use thermally efficient windows with vacuum between multiple glass panes.
  • Generate your own energy with solar panels and store extra energy in batteries.
  • Improve insulation of your house: windows, doors, walls.
  • Plant trees around your house. Trees cool your house during summer and prevent winds from stealing away the heat in winter.

Lights

  • Use natural light whenever possible.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave the room.
  • Use LED light bulbs.
  • Install lighting dimmers.
  • Install solar powered street lights that point down.
  • Install motion sensors that turn lights off in offices and other public places.

Cooling/heating

  • Use heat pump technology for both heating and cooling instead of electrical/gas heating.
  • Set thermostat to lower temperature in winter and higher temperature in summer.
  • Consider putting on warmer clothes instead of heating entire room.
  • Keep doors/windows shut when cooling/heating is on.
  • Change air filters of cooling/heating equipment regularly.

Transportation

  • Reduce amount of flying.
  • Work remotely and teleconference for meetings instead of commuting.
  • Bicycle whenever possible.
  • Use public transportation. Electric public transport is most efficient.
  • Transport goods by water or train instead of truck/air.

Driving

  • Use electric car.
  • Use smaller/lighter car.
  • Reduce unnecessary acceleration and braking.
  • Avoid driving alone. Having more passengers is more efficient.
  • Keep your car tuned up: replace air filters, keep tires fully inflated etc.

I did not know that…

  • Flying in an airplane is one of the most energy intensive things you can do. Boeing 747 consumes 140 megawatts, which is equal to the power input of one hundred thousand (100 000) US homes. During a 12-hour flight you will consume as much energy one US household uses over one year (in electricity).
  • The total distance humans drive in two years is about the same as the distance to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri.
  • Electric cars are four to six times more efficient than gas-powered cars.
  • Bicycling is one of the most energy efficient ways of traveling.
  • Energy efficiency of walking depends on the food you eat. For example, beef requires a lot of energy to produce (to feed the cows). If you eat a lot of beef then walking is as energy inefficient as driving alone in the car.

Ideas for the future

  • Install electricity meter that displays the cost of your current energy use and place the meter somewhere in your house where everyone can see it.
  • Show the cost of current fuel consumption in your car.
  • Using virtual reality equipment for teleconferencing can make business meeting more realistic and can make commute/flying unnecessary.
  • Design new homes with energy savings in mind: insulation, air flow, orientation, tilt of windows, solar panels on rooftops.

Why should I save energy in the first place?

  • It reduces pollution.
  • It reduces greenhouse gas emission.
  • It reduces human impact on ecosystems, maintains biodiversity and prevents extinction of species.
  • It leaves the planet in better condition for future generations.
  • It saves you money.

References







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