Anyone paying attention is aware of the need for mankind to cut back on fossil fuels and explore more green, environmentally friendly forms of energy. Global warming – whatever you think about its possible causes – is an existential threat.
At the very least it is being exacerbated by the continual dumping of millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every day by people the world over. Fortunately the best and brightest have been hard at work devising methods by which we can reduce our carbon footprints without having to give up the conveniences we’ve all become accustomed to.
9 Ways to Integrate Green Energy into your Home
While turning off lights when they’re not in use and turning down the thermostat a few degrees are essential habits to get into, there are other more direct ways in which green energy and the green way are becoming part of how we live.
Below are 9 ways the green revolution and the green mindset are infiltrating the home.
1. Solar Tiles
Elon Musk (of Tesla and SpaceX fame) recently announced his company has developed solar roofing tiles that will help meet the energy needs of homeowners without having to attach huge, hulking solar panels to the roof. These new solar tiles are designed to mimic the look of traditional roofing tiles and indeed, once installed, it’s nearly impossible to tell these new tiles apart from standard roofing tiles; never mind detect that they are generating electricity. Incredibly clever and useful, these solar tiles are sure to become the new standard for generating solar power in the home.
2. Solar Hot Water Heater
Some homeowners don’t want to install a full solar array on their roof or even convert to solar roofing tiles. They just want to heat water more efficiently. For them there’s the solar hot water heater. They typically cost only a couple of thousand pounds to install and you can expect to recoup your investment in 2 to 3 years, after which you’ll essentially have free hot water for many years to come.
3. Wind Generators
Wind generators are not all 50 meter high behemoths lording over hill and dale. Compact wind generators are being manufactured and installed today that are only a meter or so across yet are effective enough to generate 10% or more of the electricity you use. These compact windmills are typically placed on the roof and go about their business with silent determination.
4. Double Pane Windows
They’ve been around for some time now but it’s only in recent years that double pane windows have hit something like critical mass in the UK. Rather than being a curiosity they’re now the standard, go-to choice for new homes or for homeowners who are replacing their old windows. Double pane windows can save the average homeowner something on the order of 25% over leaky, single pane windows. They’ll cost a few bob to install but you’ll notice the difference on your energy bills immediately.
5. Energy Star Appliances
From America to Asia and everywhere in between, Energy Star appliances have conquered the market. Energy Star refrigerators can save you as much as 15% over your old fridge while an Energy Star clothes washer may generate savings of as much as 50% over your old model. This is green technology in action on a foundational level.
6. Rain Collectors
Somewhere during the evolution of the modern home, we lost sight of the fact that water falls from the sky all the time and is ours to use if we wish. Instead we let the water company deliver water to the house and pay handsomely for it. Why? Install a rain collection system on your roof and start saving immediately. A typical rain collector diverts runoff from the roof into a large barrel or cistern. You can then use this water for non-potable tasks such as cleaning the car, watering the flowers and lawn and even filling the toilet tank. Imagine being able to flush your toilet for free! Now that’s progress!
Current estimates are that the average homeowner is paying 10% more for heating their home than they need to. This waste is the result of inadequate home insulation. If you’re a dedicated do-it-yourselfer you can upgrade your home’s insulation yourself and save a bundle on having a contractor do it. But in either case it’s an essential upgrade that will bring your home in line with its appropriate level of energy usage.
8. Energy Monitors
Energy monitors are now available that will keep an eye on things and report the exact level of energy consumption in your home in real time. Being able to see exactly how much power your home is consuming at a given time can be an eye opener and typically results in much more frugal energy consumption habits. So much so that the average UK household with an energy monitor installed uses between 10 and 15% less energy than homes without it.
9. Smart Power Strips
Some 20% of unnecessary energy usage is the result of so-called “energy vampires”. The most common type of energy vampires are computers, instant-on TVs, cable or satellite boxes, DVD players and microwaves with digital clocks. All of these devices consume energy even when not in use. When you install smart power strips they detect if a device is being used by measuring energy consumption and will disconnect vampire devices before they can suck the blood from your household budget.
The green revolution is as much evolution as it is revolution. Slowly, inexorably, UK homes are integrating more and more energy-generating and energy-saving features that are transforming them into efficient, comfortable, green environments without causing anyone’s quality of life to suffer. If you feel your home could be more energy efficient use the above examples as a guide to bring it into the green fold and keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket where it belongs.