If we work together, we can put more time towards rubbish separation, seek fresh air in our cities or create new conservation areas. Want to know where to start? This week, we will be providing simple tips to start building a more climate-friendly life. Whether you're just getting started on the green path or you're a pro, there's tips for everyone. Today we look at energy saving. Let's go!
We hear it all the time – cut down your energy use to help the environment and save money. Aside from turning off the lights when you leave a room and switching of electrical appliances when not in use, it can be tricky to get started on actually reducing your personal energy use. Knowing which appliances guzzle the most electricity and acquiring the know-how to track your overall energy consumption isn't always so obvious. Below are some of our recommendations for energy saving and monitoring energy use.
Tip 1: Lights Out!
It might sound obvious but that ol' chestnut of “an empty room needs no light” is a good motto to live by. One of the best ways to cut down on household energy consumption is simply to make sure all lights that aren't needed are switched off and all electrical appliances that aren't in use are unplugged.
Tip 2: From Screensaver to Sleep Mode
Screensavers actually burn through more energy than a static screen image and can actually up your computer's energy use. If your computer switches to screensaver mode after it's sat idle for a certain amount of time, adjust your computer's power management settings so that it instead slips into 'sleep mode', which uses on average about two kilowatts of electricity.
If you're in the market for a new computer, consider buying (or sticking with) a laptop instead of a desktop. Laptops consume around 15 – 60 kilowatts of energy while in use, while desktop hard drives use anywhere from 65 – 250 kilowatts plus another 15 – 70 for the monitor.
Tip 3: Greening Your Energy Source
Switching over to greener, renewable sources of energy can seem like a daunting prospect. While measures have been put in place to ensure a personal switch from conventional to renewable energy sources is as seamless as possible, and some forms of renewable energy have now reached price parity with traditional forms, it pays to thoroughly research all options available to you. According to a 2014 report, the cost of generating electricity from wind energy and solar power in the European Union is now cheaper than sourcing it from gas or coal. In some cases, making a switch to renewable energy sources requires an upfront financial outlay – to, for example, install solar panels on your roof – however there has been a substantial drop in price over the last few decades and often these systems pay for themselves, in terms of energy bill savings, after a few years.
The first step is to get informed about the various forms of renewable energy. Check out our Knowledge article on the topic. The next step is to contact your energy provider and see what kind of renewable sources of energy they provide.
Tip 4: Up the Ante: Keep Track of Your Energy Use
If you really want to take it to the next level, you can start tracking your energy use. Actually making sense of analogue energy metre readings can be like trying to decipher encrypted code. Back in July this year, we profiled Econitor, an online service that uses gamification techniques to help users understand their household energy use and show them where they can cut usage and costs (depending on the situation).
The service tracks a user's energy consumption (either via bills or smart metres) and identifies changes in energy consumption as well as makes forecasts about future consumption patterns and conveys this all via easy-to-understand graphs and diagrams.
A number of energy companies also offer apps to help you monitor your energy use. Look on the company website of your energy provider to see what's available.
What else can you do? Find more quick tips from our editorial special here: Small Steps, Big Impact