It’s not hard to save on your energy bill by making a few tweaks such as changing your tariff or switching providers, but unless you are decreasing your electricity consumption too you aren’t helping the environment.
It’s difficult to comprehend that with just a simple act of turning off lights when we don’t need them we can directly affect the environment. But it’s true when you reduce your energy consumption less of the earth’s precious resources are required and the world is a safer place to live in.
It’s easy to take a mindset of ‘what impact can I have when big companies churn out C02 like there’s no tomorrow’.
I get you, but if you think of the big picture instead, collectively an ordinary domestic consumer like you and me can make a significant difference.
A potted history of how the climate has changed
Since the industrial revolution the world has been burning oil, coal and gas and as a result pumping out harmful byproducts into the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous monoxide.
These gases cause a ‘greenhouse effect’ on the environment.
What is the greenhouse effect?
Powerplants burn coal, oil or other fossil fuels to make your electricity. The by-product of that process includes carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas because when it is in the air, it absorbs infrared radiation from the sun and heats the air. If there is too much Co2 there is too much heat and so our planet becomes warmer.
What happens when the planet warms?
• Temperatures rise
• Sea levels rise
• More natural disasters occur
• Abnormal weather is more common
If you use less energy, there is less fuel needed to create that energy and so the impact on the CO2 being released into the atmosphere is less.
The recent pandemic is a case in point. During the crisis, far less fuel was burned. Global fossil emissions fell to 34 billion tons (34 Gt CO2), which is a drop of 2.4 Gt compared to the previous year.
To fulfil the goals of the Paris Agreement the world’s emissions must continue to drop by 1 -2 Gt per year.
What else has caused global warming?
Cutting down trees.
Trees naturally absorb manmade co2 emissions which helps to prevent global temperature rise.
The problem is that rainforests are being depleted which means there are fewer trees to mop up the mess the human race has made burning fossil fuels.
Additionally, rainforests cool the air above them. When you cut them down the cooling effect is reduced and the earth warms up.
So what could you and I do about rainforest depletion?
It turns out there is something very practical we can do and that is to reduce our consumption of palm oil. Palm oil production is responsible for substantial rainforest depletion.
It’s very tricky to avoid palm oil in our lives because you will find it in almost every kind of toiletry including shampoo, face cream, and soaps. If you look carefully at ingredients you can seek out those that don’t use palm oil or have sourced it responsibly. Soap made from olive oil is one example of a palm oil-free product.
Three reasons why saving electricity helps the environment
When you reduce your electricity consumption you decrease your carbon footprint.
How saving electricity helps the environment:
1. Less fuel is needed to make the electricity
When you use less electricity fewer fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas are needed to make it.
2. Less C02 and other harmful gases are released into the atmosphere
When less fossil fuel is burned less damaging gases are sent into the environment.
3. The greenhouse gas effect is reduced
When less co2 is in the atmosphere there is less of a greenhouse effect. When you reduce the greenhouse gas effect, global temperatures and sea levels cease to rise and the world is a better place for nature to thrive.
Eight things you can do immediately to reduce your electric consumption
1. Switch to low-energy lightbulbs
Low-energy lightbulbs use significantly less electricity than halogen or fluorescent bulbs. It’s easy to make the switch. Low-energy bulbs are typically more expensive but last a lot longer than traditional lights.
2. Switch off lights
Remember to switch off lights where you can. If you have trouble remembering, opt for a light with a sensor that is triggered by movement and then switches off automatically.
3. Switch off electrical devices
Don’t let your TV, DVD player etc. go to standby mode because they continue to draw electricity which adds up to a considerable amount over time. Switch off from the wall instead.
4. Dry your laundry outside
Avoid using your tumble dryer where you can and dry your clothes outside.
5. Wash less
In years gone by people used to wash their clothes and their bodies much less than we do now!
Do you need to shower daily? Why not try a face cloth wash instead?
Use your nose and your eyes to decide whether to wash clothing. I like to do the sniff test. If it smells fine and looks clean too it doesn’t need washing.
6. Install solar panels
Solar panels take a while to earn their keep but they can reduce your energy consumption immediately.
Check out for grants. Availability will depend on your country. You might find you can get a grant to install them or a good rate when you sell your generated electricity back to the grid.
7. Switch out your electrical goods for more efficient models
It’s a shame, but switching out your old white goods for newer models can mean you consume less energy to run them. Personally, I don’t like throwing out things just because they are old, but in this case switching out your washing machine, for example, for something more efficient is a wise move.
8. Avoid using your oven, use a microwave or slow cooker instead
Are you cooking in your oven more often than perhaps you need to? Consider batch baking or throwing in something else with your roast dinner to use up space.
If an oven isn’t necessary you can use a microwave and use less electricity.
Slow cookers cook food for up to six hours at a low temperature which results in more succulent food cooked with far less energy. It’s a win-win!