Sustainable Energy Systems
Everything we do in and to our home will affect the environment one way or another, either for good or bad. Becoming aware of this is an important first step, which can lead to considerable savings for you, as well as benefiting the environment. This also includes improving energy efficiency in your home. And there are a number of ways in which you can make your current home “greener” that will put more “green” in your pocket too. Insulation is an important first step in reducing energy usage and reducing your outgoings. It’s even more important now with the rising cost of energy these days. And there have been many improvements to insulation in recent years that make it more effective and efficient as well as even safer in the home. Those walls, lofts and attic spaces can lose huge amounts of expensive heat from your house, so insulating them can save you a great deal of money as well as making a more comfortable home – warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. After all, insulation works both ways! A lot of insulation is very easy to install or lay down, or you can go for a professional job and get an approved contractor to install cavity wall insulation. Once you have the insulation in place, it’s worth looking at the types of heating and air conditioning systems that are available. Modern ones are all so much more energy efficient. While the initial costs may seem a bit steep, you should recover your money in the long run, through lower bills. Before agreeing to buy any new system, check whether there are any grants available to you locally, or any other help. It is possible that some grants for those on a low income or those over a certain age may be available. Sometimes financial help is only available for certain systems or by using certain installation contractors. Check up on the required conditions to be met before signing up for anything. Solar panels are one way of providing additional heat and power in your house. The costs of installing these have come down considerably and the latest designs are a lot more efficient and easy to maintain. The panels are also more attractive and with so many people opting for this form of additional heat and power generation, solar panels have become very much the “in-thing” in many neighbourhoods. You may have a local contractor who can install solar panels for you or you may need to check for a national company. Whichever you chose, make sure they are certified to fit and install solar panels correctly. Solar panel installation at an information center adjacent to Ögii Lake (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Windows are another source of heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer and many homes still have the original windows, which may be outdated by today’s standards for energy conservation. They may also have shrunk from their frames, creating draughts. Where possible, think about replacing windows with double, or even triple-glazed windows. It’s not necessary to do every window at the same time, these can be done bit by bit if necessary. And in some houses, there may be certain windows that need replacing anyway or where you have already noticed cold draughts in the winter winds. Cutting out the heat loss from windows (and doors) can have a very beneficial effect on your bills! In hotter climates, you can even get tinted glass that will reflect the sun’s glare during the summer. Quite aside from insulation, if you are going to redecorate your home, you can now get healthier paints that are free from VOCs (volatile organic compounds). and this is another way to get your house greener and make it a safer and healthier place for you and your family. Let’s take a look now at water. Rainwater may be scarce in some areas, but when it does fall, you can collect it for free and make good use of it, saving your water bills. There are a number of ways to collect rainwater, from rain barrels (keep them covered to prevent accidents and to keep insects out) to underground tanks set into your garden.
You can collect rainwater through your downpipes using an adapter. The water can be used for washing your car, watering plants and is even said to be very good for washing hair, leaving it soft. There are also many ways now to save water inside the house, by using less. For instance, there are a number of new toilet models available. These use less water than older models. Some have two buttons, one for a short flush, one for a longer flush where necessary. You can also get more modern shower heads that will use less water. As water bills increase, replacing your toilet or your shower head with a more modern one incorporating water saving technology can save you money over time. It’s important to think through any changes you may want to make. Anything you do must always consider whether you can afford it and just how much of a saving it will make for you. But in general, you will find that being kind to the environment will also be kind on your pocket! Check out a few of these ideas and see if you can make your house greener and more eco friendly!
- Green Energy 101: Everything You Need To Know (sustainableenergyresearch.co.uk)
Check out this Yahoo article on talks between the UK and Iceland aimed at purchasing geothermal energy from Iceland. It also suggests that a European power super grid will eventually combine wind and wave power from the north of Europe with solar power from the south of Europe and Africa to produce low carbon energy.
Check out this Yahoo page that says that America invested $48 billion dollars in clean energy last year, beating China which invested over $45 billion. But China and America attracted this investment in different ways, according to the report: China used green energy policies to attract investors, while America used tax breaks. But if you take Europe as one region, it beat both America and China, as it attracted $99 billion in private investment in clean green energy.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Green Energy Sources?
Today, we are now aware of the effects of climate change, formerly called “global warming”. Fortunately, it’s not yet too late and we can still change which is why many are pushing for a greater use of green energy sources.
The advantage of using green energy sources is that it is clean so it does not emit anything harmful into the air which has an impact on the environment. It is also renewable which means we will never run out of it, unlike oil which is expected to dry up in a decade or so.
Although green energy facilities are expensive to build, they may require less maintenance so you don’t have to shell out a lot of money to operate them.
They can also bring economic benefits to certain areas and may even boost tourism.
While these sound good, there are some serious considerations to be giving to making a changeover and using such technology.
While green energy sources can produce electricity, how much they can generate is not consistent. This is because we have no control of the weather so if a certain area relies on solar energy and there is a weather disturbance, it will not be able to convert sunlight into electricity and of course, the wind does not always blow to turn the wind turbines!
Building these facilities may also require a lot of land so we may have to cut down on farmland which is what many are concerned about if more wind turbines are to be put up. Alternatively, wind turbines can be located at sea, but at considerable cost.
There are also those who object to various types of green energy plants on aesthetic grounds, they do not want wind turbines on high hills (where the most wind occurs) or out at sea because it spoils the view.
Another disadvantage is the fact that some of the green energy sources cannot be installed in certain areas of the planet. For instance, wave energy can only be utilised if the waves coming from the ocean reach at least 16 feet. This requires certain geological features which are not always present. And the use of geothermal energy is only possible in geologically unstable parts of the planet.
But if you look at such arguments, places that cannot use one form of green energy source can be substituted for another. If wind turbines need more space, they can be installed at sea instead of putting these on land. A study shows that you can generate more electricity while these are in the ocean.
While the weather is something we cannot control, it is not everyday that there is a weather disturbance so, provided energy can be stored, it is possible to wait until the weather disturbance is over. If solar energy is being used and the sun is covered, the emergency generators will be activated and use up the energy that was stored.
The point is that there are ways around the arguments put by certain individuals which discourage the use of green energy sources. In fact, research is ongoing to try and harness other means to generate the power we need.
A very good example of this is called ocean thermal energy. Power is generated by harnessing the different temperatures in the water. It is currently being used on a small scale both in Japan and Hawaii.
In the US, only 7% of green energy sources are used nationally. This was much higher 11 years ago and if we don’t have to worry about the cost of oil or even reduce our dependency on it, we have to invest more in this clean energy.
We can get it from green energy sources such as biomass, biodiesel, geothermal, solar, water and the wind. These are things we have all around us and all it takes is for someone to harness it instead of relying on traditional non-renewable means to produce energy.