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Green Energy and Cost Efficiency
by Nick Marr on Dec 18, 2019
Green Energy and Cost Efficiency: Understanding the Necessity, Guiding Ideas and Practical Solutions at a Domestic Level
We are now well into the Anthropocene, or what is known more commonly as the Age of Man. It is characterized by the tremendous impact that the actions of the human race have had on the planet’s geography, biodiversity, climate, resources, atmosphere and various other core elements so far. As these effects have been profound enough to bring about changes in most, if not all of the factors that are considered crucial to pave the future of the planet, thus has begun the Age of Man.
Unfortunately for the planet and our future generations, a majority of those effects have so far been negative, and given that they have been powerful enough to bring about changes in the planet’s core elements within the very short period of time that modern humans have existed on earth, it’s an alarming fact.
Out of the many impacts we have had, our constant need for energy generation and use has had one of the most devastating effects on the future of human civilization and earth’s environment. Given that we are at a stage where coal and petroleum are about to run out in a matter of decades, generation and adoption of clean energy can no longer be just considered an alternative. Unless we begin to adopt clean energy initiatives on a domestic, commercial, national and international level, the future is dim in both the literal and figurative sense of the term.
Adoption of Green Energy Across the Planet
Both the UK and the European Union agree on the need to completely eliminate their reliance on conventional sources of energy, and they have their goals set as well.
This is not just a goal set on paper but an actual, fully realized and practical effort that is seeing tremendous success in nations such as Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Germany, Costa Rica and Nicaragua to name just a few. Even the managed to surpass its reliance on nonrenewable energy resources for the first time in more than a century last year, which is a clear indication that the nation is serious about its “Net Zero” target for 2050.
Adoption of Clean Energy for a Cost-Efficient Lifestyle at a Domestic Level
Commercial sectors are under the direct supervision of the state and various other environmental organizations, so effort is being made on that front to increase power-efficiency, decrease industrial pollution, and reduce industrial reliance on renewable sources of energy. However, in the domestic sector, this is much harder to achieve. It is for that reason that every citizen must take steps on his/her own to reduce their home’s carbon footprint to the best of their abilities. Up next, we are going to discuss a number of simple and highly-effective ways in which any home can not just become environmentally friendly, but also improve the residence’s overall cost-effectiveness significantly.
Shifting to LED: The Most Cost-Efficient Lighting Options
Incandescent bulbs have been replaced permanently almost everywhere by CFLs, but now it’s time to make another shift and adopt LED lights, which are even more cost-efficient than CFLs, especially once you consider the fact that they last a lot longer too.
Dimmers Serve More than One Purpose
LED lights coupled with dimmer switches serve more than just one purpose. First and foremost, the ability to control the luminescence of your lighting in any room means that you can essentially control how much energy the bulb is consuming at any given time.
Additionally, to have the ability to change luminescence also mean that the lighting can be adjusted according to the mood and lighting requirements of the home’s occupants. Dim the lights when you are in the mood for a relaxing day indoors, but brighten them up when it’s time to host a small gathering in the living room.
Utilization of Multiple Light Sources for Better Décor and Lower Energy Consumption
Those that live in big houses with big rooms will notice a particular decline in energy consumption on adopting this method. The idea is that in every large room, there should be multiple sources of light, cleverly arranged to both highlight the décor and compartmentalize the room into multiple lit sections.
In other words, if you are in a large living room and you have the need for only one part of it to be brightly lit, the option to do so should be present. Ambient light from floor lamps and such can help keep the entire room lit, but as far as functional or bright lighting is concerned, multiple light sources ensure that just the area of the large room you are in at that time are well lit.
Reducing Heating and Cooling Costs: The Main Bane of Modern Comforts
By far, heating and cooling costs are the main reasons for boosting energy consumption throughout the hottest and coldest months of the year. Depending on which state you are in, the costs, as well as the heating and cooling needs will differ of course, but it remains a constant fact that your HVAC, boiler or AC units are the prime energy hogs.
The good news is that reducing the impact of cooling and heating units on the carbon footprint of a home, and the associated bumps in electricity bills during the peak hot and cold months of the year, is possible, but it requires a well-formulated plan.
As it would be impossible to suggest or devise a plan without knowing the location concerned, the following tips will cover most aspects that a well-rounded plan should include. However, even if you are unable to implement all the measures right away, even adopting a few of these will make a dent in your HVAC energy consumption and consequent carbon emission numbers.
You Can’t Waste Solar Energy!
The total energy from the sun that makes it onto the earth in a single day is more than enough to power all present energy requirements of the entire planet for more than year. Given that we can’t even convert a respectable fraction of that energy into electricity, there is no possible way that you can ever waste solar energy!
Introduce your home to one of the modern photovoltaic systems, and if you live in a sunny state like California, Texas or Florida for example, every joule of energy you generate from that system is a contribution to the green initiative and directly translates into money saved in energy bills. Whether it’s for cooling or heating your home, as long as the HVAC unit is connected to the solar panels, you are saving energy and money simultaneously, turning your home into a more cost-efficient and greener place to live in.
Install Ductless Mini-Split AC Units in Garages, Sheds and Home Workshops
Installing ductless mini-split air conditioners is a particularly handy and cost-effective solution to counter rising electricity costs during summer months in the hotter states. The thing is that they are more consistent, utilize a lot less energy than traditional air-conditioning units, and when coupled with a solar roof that can take advantage of all that extra heat, could essentially power itself throughout the summer months! However, there are some drawbacks though.
Semper Solaris is a leading name in the state of California when it comes to providing optimum grade solar roofing, solar energy storage and cost-efficient heating & cooling solutions. Take their advice into account and check out the detailed pros and cons of ductless mini-split systems on the website. As you will notice, they explain why ductless AC units bring down energy costs so efficiently, but also point out why these may not always be the most ideal option for the main building/house.
Install Heat Recovery Systems
In case you are reading this in one of the colder states that does not have much need for cooling solutions, you will find that investing in a heat recovery system could be extremely cost-effective. As for how that’s true, go through the following points to get an idea of the same:
- The HVAC system doesn’t need to work as hard, since a majority of the heat is retained for the longest time
- The constant supply of fresh air means opening a window is unnecessary during cold days or nights, minimizing heat loss
- Lowering of CO2 emissions directly contributes to a home’s attempt to reduce carbon emissions
Aside from saving electricity and reducing carbon footprint, the ventilation provided by a proper heat recovery system has a very crucial effect on maintaining a healthy indoor environment in particularly cold climates. This helps prevent the formation of mold, mildew and other parasitical or microbial organisms that thrive inside humid conditions found in closed, unventilated homes.
Double Glazing Can Make a Huge Difference in Your Insulation Efforts
Double glazing can effectively eliminate heat loss from window glass surfaces completely, which is often a major problem in cold climates, due to natural condensation and conduction. It should also be noted that although not as commonly used for the same, double glazing can also be useful in hot climates, because heat from outside the window is not allowed into the home either. Once the AC manages to cool down the indoor temperature, your windows will not allow any of the outside heat to come in and raise the indoor temperature, even if the curtains are open and sunlight is shining in.
Double glazed windows are created by putting together two separate sheets of glass, with a thin layer of vacuum or inert gas in between them. As a result, the glass surfaces both inside and outside can come into contact with different temperatures and weather conditions, without affecting each other in any way.
Not that it has to be double glazed windows only mind you, because tinted glass windows, well-chosen blinds, and a coat of UV repelling paint with heat reflective properties can also do the trick. However, double glazed window glass is by far, the most comprehensive, heat retentive window solution for the cold winter months.
The Change Can be Gradual
For those that are feeling that this is a lot of expense to undertake, the important bit to remember is that no one has to take all the steps at once. Make it a gradual process, not unlike how most nations are doing it, planned over the course of a few years to make your own home one of the first in the neighborhood to go off the carbon chart for good.
Some States are More Ideal than Others for Adopting a Clean Energy Based Lifestyle
While the United States as a whole has not been at the forefront of clean energy generation for the last few years due to certain surprising shifts in environmental policies, a number of states such as California, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota and Kansas, stand as bright exceptions to that. Some of these states may have a lower energy generation rating than a massive producer of clean energy like California, but they are surprisingly ahead of the competition in terms of clean energy reliance.
Therefore, living in these states presents ample opportunities for its residents to utilize many, if not all of the tips we just discussed, thanks to political, technological and financial infrastructures which encourage, welcome and support citizens who are willing to take the necessary steps and adopt a greener and more cost-efficient lifestyle.
Not that living outside these states or even outside the US reduces or devalues the need to adopt clean energy initiatives by any means mind you, because after all, we are all sharing the same planet and its limited resources. Whether you are in an underdeveloped part of the globe where renewable sources of energy don’t have any infrastructure at all, or in one of the green nations of the European continent, every step you take towards reducing your home’s own carbon footprint will have an impact on the environment down the line, and even on your own wallet.
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