Climate change and the environment is top of the global agenda today as the need to cut down on carbon emissions becomes increasingly apparent. As world leaders negotiate to come up with a plan to halt climate change and cut down on emissions, we can also play our part.
Reducing the amount of energy we use in our home, in our workplace and in our cars can have a significant affect on emissions. Not only that, it can save you money too. If everyone makes an effort in their lives, it can make a huge difference on a global scale. Here is some advice on how you can cut down on your energy usage.
In the home
* Switch to energy-saving light bulbs. They cost slightly more, but save up to ten times their price over their lifetime.
* When you are boiling water, or heating anything, only boil the amount you need. You do not need a kettle full of boiling water for one cup of tea.
* Switch off appliances when you are not using them to save money and energy. TVs, videos, stereos and computers left on standby can use use a lot of energy.
* Recycle everything that you can. We throw away our own weight in rubbish every month, but bottles, cans, paper, card, plastic and aluminium can all be reused or recycled which saves energy. For example, it takes the same amount of energy to make 20 cans from recycled material as it takes to make one can from scratch. Recycling will also save you money on refuse charges.
* If you live in a sunny area you could potentially meet all your energy means using solar panels.
* Turning down your thermostat by just three degrees will save you 10 per cent in energy costs. Also, make sure that your home is well insulated so that it keeps the heat in.
* When washing clothes and dishes make sure the appliances are full. Also, try using lukewarm water.
* Keep the lid on pots and pans when you are cooking.
In the office
* Where at all possible, store all documents in digital format on your computer or another storage device. If you must print something, use both sides of the page.
* There is no need to fly half way around the world for a meeting. Online audio and video conferencing has effectively cut out the need for face to face meetings and conferences. The amount of energy that can potentially be saved here is huge.
* Turn your computer off completely or at least put it to sleep when you are not using it. Computers still use a lot of energy when they are on screensaver mode.
In the car
* For shorter journeys, leave the car at home and use a bike instead. Bikes are a healthy, quick and enjoyable way to get around, and a great way to avoid congestion if you live in a big city.
* Experiment with car pooling to get to and from work. It will save you money and could get you to work faster.
* Join the hybrid revolution. Do you really need that gas guzzling SUV? Buy a hybrid and use a fraction of the energy for your journeys.
* Public transport is far more energy efficient than driving. Also, remember that air travel is a major polluter so use ground transport wherever possible.
In the shops
* Do not accept plastic bags from shops. Always bring your own reusable bags.
* Try to buy organic food that is grown locally. Organic food is farmed less intensively and usually requires less energy to produce. In addition, the fact that it is grown locally means a reduction in transport costs.
* Try to eat less meat. Livestock are a major source of greenhouse gases.
While water isn’t strictly energy, it is a finite resource that we need to preserve and take care of. Here are some tips on how to cut down on your water usage:
* Always use the shower instead of the bath.
* Never leave the tap running while brushing your teeth.
* Only use the dishwasher or washing machine with a full load.
* Try to install a system to use your waste water run-off to keep your garden watered. This will also encourage you to use non-harmful soaps and washing powders.
* Water your garden early in the morning or just before sunset. This allows the water to be absorbed into the ground instead of evaporating in the hot sun if you water during the day.
* Water butts or large water containers are a good idea for the garden. Situate them under the edges of your roof so they receive run-off when it rains.