Sustainable energy is derived from resources that can maintain current operations without jeopardizing the energy needs or climate of future generations. The most popular sources of sustainable energy, including wind, solar and hydropower, are also renewable.
What is the most sustainable type of energy?
Wind energy is one of the most sustainable forms of energy currently available. It harnesses the power of naturally moving air to spin wind turbines, which in turn generate electricity. Not only is this great because it provides a regenerative form of energy, but it also does so without greenhouse gas emissions.
How We Can Sustainably Use Energy
This will also save money on fuel bills. We can all help by making changes to our lifestyles and our houses, for example by:
- Walking, cycling, or using public transport.
- Reducing the number of aircraft journeys.
- Switching off lights, power sockets, phone chargers and TVs when not in use
- Recycling and reusing plastics and oil-based products.
- Using energy-efficient light bulbs and rechargeable batteries.
- Insulating house roofs, blocking draughts, using double-glazing and energy-efficient heating systems.
- Installing solar panels or switching to an electricity supplier, that supplies green electricity.
- Using smart meters in homes improves energy efficiency.
Why We Need Sustainable Energy
Using more renewable energy can lower the prices of and demand for natural gas and coal by increasing competition and diversifying our energy supplies. And an increased reliance on renewable energy can help protect consumers when fossil fuel prices spike.
- Less global warming
Human activity is overloading our atmosphere with carbon dioxide and other global warming emissions. These gases act like a blanket, trapping heat. The result is a web of significant and harmful impacts, from stronger, more frequent storms, to drought, sea level rise, and extinction.
- Improved public health
The air and water pollution emitted by coal and natural gas plants is linked with breathing problems, neurological damage, heart attacks, cancer, premature death, and a host of other serious problems.
- Inexhaustible energy
Strong winds, sunny skies, abundant plant matter, heat from the earth, and fast-moving water can each provide a vast and constantly replenished supply of energy.
- Stable energy prices
Renewable energy is providing affordable electricity across the country right now, and can help stabilize energy prices in the future.
Although renewable facilities require upfront investments to build, they can then operate at very low cost (for most clean energy technologies, the “fuel” is free). As a result, renewable energy prices can be very stable over time.
Ways We Can Be Sustainable at Home
- Solar power
You can use the sun to generate electricity for your home through solar photovoltaic panels that are installed on your roof. These panels take the sun's rays and convert it into electricity that you can use to warm your home and power your devices.
The panels can generate power during daylight hours and it doesn't have to be sunny in order for them to work, although they do generate more power on sunnier days. The power generated during daylight hours can be stored in batteries so you can still use electricity after the sun goes down.
- Solar heating
Solar energy can also be used to provide hot water and heating all year round. Solar heating systems use solar panels that can be fitted to your roof, mounted on a free-standing frame or even hung from a wall. The power they generate heats up water that is stored in a hot water cylinder - you’ll need approximately five square meters of space that receives direct sunlight for the main part of the day. If you want to use it to power your heating too then you'll need larger panels, the size of which will be determined by the size of your home.
- Hydroelectric systems
This renewable energy source uses water flowing downhill to generate electricity - so if your home is close to a lake or river it could be a great option for you. There are many large-scale hydroelectric power plants in operation but you can also get small scale ones for your home. These can generate enough electricity to power a home on a river that has a one-meter drop.
- Wind energy
Wind turbines are not just for the big wind farms you see in wide open spaces. Smaller wind turbines are available for homes, either as a free-standing pole or installed on the building directly. They generate electricity by the wind turning the blades, which drives the internal turbine and creates power.
- Renewable electricity supply
All of the electricity we provide our customers’ homes is backed by 100% renewable sources such as wind, biomass and solar.
And it’s not just our customers’ homes that benefit from 100% renewable electricity, we also offer our eligible small business customers renewable electricity too.
- Air source heat pumps
An air source heat pump is a renewable energy system that uses the heat from the outside air to provide you with heating and hot water – working in a similar way to a fridge but in reverse by extracting energy from the air and using it to warm your home. Heat pumps work in all temperatures and are capable of extracting heat from the air and heating your home in temperatures as low as 15oC2.
One of the benefits of an air source heat pump is it’s a more sustainable heating option compared to traditional oil or gas heating, so can help make your home more energy efficient and reduce your carbon footprint.
Energy Saving Tips for the Home
- Watch out for energy-draining appliances
Our electronic appliances use as much as 75% of their electricity consumption when switched off?
A simple tour of your home will likely prove you have at least several plugged-in items you’re not using. For example, electrical items on standby, such as TV’s, computers and video games consoles. Many of these appliances draw a small amount of electricity whilst waiting for use.
- Smart power strips help to manage usage the smart way
Whereas unplugging and switching off appliances at the wall will do the trick, another task in our busy days can easily slip the mind. To help keep those energy-hungry appliances in check, you’ll find it easier to conserve energy using smart power strips.
A smart power strip deals with the problem of not in use electronics draining energy unnecessarily. With a power strip, you can configure them to shut off electricity to appliances when not in use. Alternatively, some models enable you to save electricity costs by setting timers to turn off the supply when you’re at work or asleep.
- Use large appliances together to reduce energy use
Whereas your modern washing machine and dryer may be marked energy-efficient, even energy efficient appliances still consume a lot of electricity with each use.
To conserve electricity as much as possible, pool your laundry together (as a family or roommates) and do full loads all at once. As a result, you cut down on the number of times you end up using the washer every week. If it helps, think about how much money you’re throwing away with each wash of an item or two.
- Cold wash when you can - it’s just as good!
Further, treat the warm wash as optional for when you really need it. Not heating water every time, you wash clothes makes for one of those super easy ways to save energy. With all the bells and whistles of modern washers and detergent designed for cold washes, you’ll quickly find you can have spotless clothes using cold water.
- Dry your clothes and dishes naturally
You can also cut out dryer use to save energy by drying your clothes in the sun (if you live in a home that allows for it, that is). If you can’t avoid the dryer, use a lower setting, even if drying might take more time.
If you use a dishwasher, ditch the heated drying cycle by drying with a napkin. You could also leave the dishwasher door open and allow for air drying to save money on the heat cycle. It's perfectly OK to let dishes air dry they'll be just as hygienic.
- Install energy-efficient light bulbs
Talking lighting, another great substitute is to swap incandescent lights for a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) or led bulbs. CFLs use between 50-80% less energy than regular incandescent bulbs.
You’ll find these more expensive to purchase at first than regular bulbs, which use more energy. But they will last a lot longer than the regular ones. As a result, over time, the cost balances out as you save more energy. CFLs are especially practical for exterior lighting, which you may require left on throughout the night.
- Notch your refrigerator temp down a little
Most of us do not pay much attention to the temperature our refrigerator operates at. Providing, of course, we have cold drinks, and the veg remains fresh. However, when mindful of energy conservation, notching the temperature down a few degrees saves electricity.
With a slight tweak to its thermostat, your fridge will still keep everything cold and fresh, while this small change results in less engine use to help reduce those energy bills.
- Cut out air leaks to reduce draughts
Ever get that feeling hot air is finding its way into your comfortable air-conditioned living space in summer? Or vice versa, cold air appears the enemy of saving energy in the winter?
The chances are you have air leaks somewhere in your home. Another one of those easy ways to save electricity is simply plugging air leaks into the home. Look out for draughts from external doors and windows and repair them or plug them up to prevent air leaking in from outside. You can also use weather stripping to line doors or windows where heat loss is an issue resulting in less heating and cooling costs.
If you have an HVAC system, or any form of heating or cooling, you help prevent the need for home heating or your air conditioning working harder than it needs to. The result, of course, is less electricity use.
- Install ceiling fans for cooler air without cooling
Ceiling fans that circulate hot or cold air around the room prevent extra energy use in actually firing up an air conditioner for cooling. In warmer climates, the use of both at the same time helps you feel cool while air conditioning on a lower setting uses less energy.
- Use doors and curtains
Only heat or cool the rooms you need. Simply installing and using thermal curtains can avoid heat loss to the outdoors in colder seasons.
Meanwhile, keep your living areas cooled by setting the air conditioner to a comfortable temperature. But not too cold either, reducing the need for the air conditioning to run continuously to conserve energy. Shutting doors between rooms will also ensure that your cooling costs don’t end up paying for more rooms than necessary.
- Maintain your energy-saving insulation
Damaged insulation can increase energy consumption, both in the form of heating and cooling. According to energy.gov, 20% of the energy consumed in a home during winter results from heat loss through the attic.
One of the more significant ways to save long term is installing proper insulation in your home to protect it from unnecessary heat loss during winter. And help ensure your air conditioner doesn’t have to work overtime to keep you cool during summer.
If you need to install or repair insulation in your home but can’t afford a contractor, many DIY videos are available online to guide you through the process. You’ll find affordable insulation materials such as fibreglass, natural fibre, sleek foils, and rigid foam boards easily accessible.
Where possible lookout for natural alternatives that have had less impact on the environment in their manufacture. Also, seek to buy locally produced to reduce the transport impacts as an energy conservation bonus. Your next energy bill will thank you.
- Insulate your water heater
Regardless of whether you heat your water with gas or electricity, wrap up your water heater cylinder in insulation if you have one. This one simple energy conservation step can save up to 10% of water heating costs on your electricity bill.
- Unplug & defrost your freezer monthly
Your freezer benefits from occasionally defrosting, usually once a month. When excessive ice builds up in the freezer, the system ends up working harder to preserve all that ice and keep cool air flowing. As a result, a freezer in need of a defrost uses more energy and adds to your energy costs.
Whenever you want to defrost, simply unplug the freezer and remove all food items. Leave the door open for a faster melting process, and then dry out the freezer. Turn it back on, and once cool, repack your food items. Ensure that you place items correctly to allow easy flow of cooling air and improved energy saving (so your freezer’s system doesn’t work too much!).
Do you really need all those mini-fridges?
You can also save more money by unplugging the mini-fridges around the house and using one central fridge. If your refrigerator set (fridge and freezer) is big enough, you can also save electricity by ditching the big deep freezer often used in the home.
- Stay up to date on maintenance to save energy
Your appliances will work more effectively and save you electricity at home if they are cared for. For example, when your air conditioner air filters clog up, you might choose to turn it up higher because the regular temperature doesn’t do so much anymore, using more energy.
By changing the filter (monthly, as recommended), you can get enough cold air at a minimal temperature, and you’ll note a reduction in your utility bills. The same applies to your dishwasher, tumble dryer, and other appliances.
Remember that there is a connection between how much electricity you use and your environment. Your personal electricity conservation changes might seem small, but they all add up. Further, you’ll find by following some of the simple tips above. You don’t need to rush out and purchase energy-efficient products.
You’ll find energy savings as simple as paying attention to use around the home, insulating your water heater and replacing incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient ones when the time comes. Small changes such as turning off all the light before you go out all add up. This all results in conserving energy around the home.
Until the time when we can entirely depend on green energy sources, we can all contribute to our collective effort to preserve our natural resources and slow down the effect of global warming.
Practice some of our tips above to save electricity at home and you'll make a difference before you know it. Not only will your electric bill thank you, but you’ll also be reducing your carbon footprint whilst doing your bit for the environment.