Saving energy in the home with a helpful hand from technology
If the mantra for losing weight is ‘eat less, move more’ than the one for energy saving should be ‘use less, save more’! One of the main benefits of following green practices within the home is the fact that it helps you to reduce your monthly outgoings as well as helping the environment. With this in mind, we’ve put together some top gadgets and technological changes you can make in the home to save you cash as well as energy.
1) Products that help you monitor and cap the energy used by the existing appliances in your home are inexpensive and can help you make changes instantly. Look out for gadgets like this one that monitor the energy being used by items such as your fridge, washing machine and TV as these will prompt you to be more economical with use and help to remind you to turn off appliances you aren’t using. In much the same way, timers will help to ensure you don’t waste energy by forgetting to turn off appliances or keeping them on standby.
2) Keeping heat within your home will help keep energy costs down and make sure you stay cosy and warm in winter. You can help trap heat with your soft furnishings choices – choosing carpets and lined curtains or thermal window blinds. You can also use gadgets such as draft excluders and ecoflaps for letterboxes to plug gaps that could let heat escape.
3) You may want to consider making some changes to your home – albeit some minor ones. By installing your own solar panels you can help reduce your home’s carbon footprint and lower your energy bills to boot. You should also investigate properly insulating your home to increase efficiency. Don’t forget to inform your insurer if you are making changes in the home though, many insurers are like Castle Cover home insurance in the UK and will require you to tell them of changes as part of your agreement.
4) Upgrading your appliances and heating system may be a short term financial pain, but it could lead to serious financial gain. Look out for energy saving boilers, washing machines, air conditions, dryers and fridges that can substantially reduce your energy costs. According to official figures, heating and cooling accounts for 56 per cent of the energy used in the typical US home, so increasing your appliance efficiency can go a long way towards making your home greener.
Posted in: Carbon, Conservation
Tags: air conditions, carbon footprint, don't waste energy, dryers, energy saving applainces, energy saving boilers, green practices, green products, heating system, home appliances, home energy savings, home insurance, increase efficiency, insurance, keep energy costs down, making your home greener, saving energy, thermal window blinds, washing machines
Can the risks from fracking and shale gas can be managed?
Fracking has become one the most controversial subjects in the environmental movement. Natural gas is cleaner than coal and oil, but the process used to extract it is raising questions. This article in The Economist takes an optimistic view.
The anti-frackers have reasonable grounds for worry. Producing shale gas uses lots of energy and water, and can cause pollution in several ways. One concern is possible contamination of aquifers by methane, fracking fluids or the radioactive gunk they dislodge. This is not known to have happened; but it probably has, where well-shafts passing through aquifers have been poorly sealed.
Another worry is that fracking fluids regurgitated up well-shafts might percolate into groundwater. A graver fear is that large amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse-gas, could be emitted during the entire process of exploration and production. Some also fret that fracking might induce earthquakes—especially after it was linked to 50 tiny tremors in northern England last year.
But the risks from shale gas can be managed. Properly concreted well-shafts do not leak; regurgitants can be collected and made safe; preventing gas venting and flaring would limit methane emissions to acceptable levels; and the risk of tremors, which commonly occur as a result of conventional oil-and-gas activities, can be contained by careful monitoring. The IEA estimates that such measures would add 7% to the cost of the average shale-gas well. That is a small price to pay for environmental protection and the health of a promising industry.
For as well as posing environmental risks, a gas boom would bring an important environmental benefit. Burning gas emits half as much carbon dioxide as coal; so where gas substitutes for coal, emissions will fall. America’s emissions have fallen by 450m tonnes in the past five years, more than any other country’s. Ironically, given its far greater effort to tackle climate change, the European Union has seen its emissions rise, partly because of an increase in coal-fired power generation in response to Europe’s high gas price.
If the risks can be managed, this could present an important opportunity. It’s also a huge economic driver now in the United States, so the pressure will be there to find a solution.
Posted in: Carbon, Renewable Energy
Tags: anti-frackers, anti-fracking movement, coal-fired power generation, fracking, fracking and earthquakes, fracking and groundwater, fracking tremors, gas boom, gas industry, gas industry risks, groundwater issues, hydraulic fracturing, hydraulic fracturing risks, methane emissions, producing shale gas, shale gas, The Economist, threats to groundwater