The earth's climate is changing and the evidence is clearly visible around us - more extreme weather conditions like flooding or periods of drought, early arrival of spring, prolonged autumns and shorter winters. This rate of change will continue unless we can limit the emissions of greenhouse gases which congregate in the upper atmosphere and act as a thermal blanket resulting in global warming.
When climate change occurred in previous eras, plants, animals and human beings had time to adapt because the rate of change was slower, but with the much larger population and our ever increasing use of fossil fuels, the rate of change is occurring much faster and is human rather than geophysical in origin.
There is no time to be lost because the UN expert panel on Climate Change has concluded that the global emissions of greenhouse gases has to be stabilised by 2015 if irreversible changes in climate are to be avoided. Many of these changes have been documented by Al Gore in his film 'An inconvenient truth'.
To limit climate change each of us has to do three things now -
- use less energy
- use energy more efficiently
- switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources wherever possible
Reducing your electricity consumption
Your electricity bill is a suitable starting point and an analysis of the previous quarter, or preferably the previous year's bills, will indicate how much electricity was used on average each day. An analysis of the previous year's bills will show whether your consumption is increasing or decreasing. The cost will certainly have increased as the unit cost (per kWh) has been increasing steadily to reflect the growing price of generating electricity.
Some utilities are providing current cost meters, which otherwise can be bought, to their customers. These display electricity being consumed at any one time and its cost, so by switching off appliances or lamps not being used, it can be seen how much energy can be saved.
Reducing your energy consumption
Using less energy and more efficiently
There are an increasing number of appliances and products that use electricity. Making a survey of appliance use in each room using the information in our 'virtual' home will help to identify the biggest energy consumers. The next step is to consider options for reducing this consumption.
If you have more time, a survey form can be downloaded which will enable you to analyse the electricity use and how you can save energy when buying new appliances or light bulbs.
Using less energy and more
Reducing your heating demand
An analysis of the previous year's heating bill will indicate how much energy was used to heat the home. By dividing this by the floor area you can compare your heat demand with that of similar buildings with current and older building standards. Options for reducing heat loss are described.
Reducing your heating
Potential for using renewable energy sources
Renewable energy sources like wind, sunshine, biomass and geothermal heating are wide spread and create little or no greenhouse gases. Most can be attached to or utilised within the home. A survey form is available which will give a first indication of which renewable energy source might be most suitable in your home.
Potential for using renewable