Now is the time to start to reduce the use of fossil fuels
Continuing the series of articles written by the Department of Energy exploring the 2011 Energy White Paper, this article will focus on the concept of energy conservation.
Energy conservation is the avoidance of energy consumption, usually through adopting new or by changing our present habits or behaviour.
We are dependent upon energy for every part of our lives, from waking up in the morning to the sound of an alarm clock or cell phone, to taking a hot shower before bed.
The costs of goods and services are also directly linked to the cost of energy, so as the price of electricity increases, the amount it costs to eat in a restaurant will increase and, as fuel prices increase, so will your grocery bill.
Despite this intricate role that energy plays in our lives, we often take this luxury for granted and do not often consider what the true costs of energy are.
It is estimated that we spend $2,700 each per year on energy produced by fossil fuels.
As none of us are immune to the effects of the increases in the cost of living, and this amount is likely to increase rather than decrease in the future, now is the time to consider how we as individuals/families/businesses can take action to conserve energy, save money and, as a consequence, reduce our use of and dependence on fossil fuels.
In order to conserve energy, it is essential to have the ability to relate our habits and behaviours directly to our patterns of energy consumption.
Just as most of us have a scale in our houses to weigh ourselves, we need to have some means of measuring how we are doing with regard to energy use. Without the ability to monitor our energy use, it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine which of our habits/behaviours need to change.
Currently, we can go to the electric meter and have a look to see how quickly the kilowatts are being used, but the only record of our consumption is produced after the fact, in our monthly electric bills.
More modern electric metering technologies do exist and could help us in monitoring our day-to-day use of energy. The real-time information that these technologies provide could show us how we are using energy and allow us to see the consequences of changing our behaviour.
For example if we understood immediately that changing our use of our air conditioning was going to result in an increase or savings in our monthly electric bill, it would allow us to make a much more informed choice about whether and when to use it.
In the absence of smart metering technology there are other tools that we can use to monitor our electrical energy usage. Sold locally by a number of renewable/alternative energy providers, energy home electricity monitors provide real-time feedback on how much electricity you are using.
They also provide utility bill projections which can help you to budget and reduce your usage. Energy auditing services are another very useful tool we can use, because if we know how were using energy now, then that gives us a baseline from which to start to conserve by changing our habits and behaviour.
With an estimated 52,000 vehicles on our roads yet only 123 miles of paved roads, most fossil fuel driven vehicles cannot meet their expected rate of fuel efficiency.
As gasoline costs over $8/gallon ($2+/liter) and the cost of servicing, licensing and insuring our vehicles continues to increase there are more efficient and cost effective means of transporting ourselves around the Island which will reduce our energy usage.
Consider using public transportation as its one of the best bargains and proven to be effective in reducing a countrys overall consumption of fossil fuels (energy).
Riding a motorcycle, rather than taking the car, is also a cheaper way to get around due to the lower purchase and maintenance costs, lower duty and licensing fees, less expensive insurance and free parking as well as lower fuel costs.
Carpooling offers a simple and effective way to also reduce how much you spend on fuel whilst also reducing traffic congestion, and encouraging more community cohesiveness.
Obviously the best way to conserve fuel is by cycling and walking. Besides not using any fossil fuels, not only are these two forms of transportation free, they also produce virtually zero emissions and have numerous health benefits.
Other tips which can help you conserve energy in and around your home/business include simple things such as*;
n Oven — Use the oven as little as possible in the heat of summer. The waste heat makes the house more uncomfortable and increases air conditioning loads. Outdoor cooking is best.
n Washer — Wash full loads. Use cold water. Most laundry detergents are made to work in cold water. Adjust the water level to the load you are washing. You dont need a full load of water if you are only washing half a load of clothes.
n Dryer — dont use it if you dont absolutely have to — air dry your clothes if you can. If you have to use it then use the moisture sensor option on your dryer. It automatically shuts off the machine when the clothes are dry. Group similar types of fabrics together before drying them.
For example, put towels together in one load. A lower dryer temperature may be used for certain clothes. Be sure to clean the lint from the dryers filter after every load and wash the filter well, at least once a month. The efficiency of the dryer decreases when lint collects on and residue from fabric softeners builds up on, the filter.
n Refrigerator — Dont keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37F to 40F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5F for the freezer section.
If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0F. Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers; frost build-up decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Dont allow frost to build up more than one quarter of an inch.
n Ceiling Fans — Ceiling fans with forward and reverse circulation modes are great air controllers. A ceiling fan can direct air movement into the room by blowing down in the summer, which can make you feel cooler due a sort of wind chill effect.
In the winter, reverse the direction so that the warm air near the ceiling can be circulated around the room whilst avoiding that down draft you enjoy in the summer. This will allow you to increase your thermostat settings during the warmer months and decrease your heating temperature settings during the colder months thereby saving valuable energy dollars.
n Toilets — fill a half-gallon plastic jug with water and place it in the tank of an older toilet. This will not only reduce the amount of water used per flush but as a consequence the number of times your water pump needs to refill your pressure tank and therefore the amount of electricity it needs to use.
n Pools — Pool pumps often run much longer than necessary. Circulating your pools water keeps the chemicals mixed and removes debris. However, as long the water circulates while chemicals are added, they should remain mixed.
Its not necessary to recirculate the water every day to remove debris, and most debris can be removed using a skimmer or vacuum. Furthermore, longer circulation doesnt necessarily reduce the growth of algae.
Instead, using chemicals in the water and scrubbing the walls are the best methods. Reduce your filtration time to six hours per day. If the water doesnt appear clean, increase the time in half-hour increments until it does.
Each of us can take steps to change our habits and our behaviour when it comes to consumption of and conservation of energy but each of us needs to start by taking responsibility for these in order to make that change.
For more information on the Governments Energy White Paper and energy efficiency and conservation please go to; http://www.gov.bm/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=728&mode=2&in_hi_userid=2&cached=true
*Referenced from http://www.psc.state.fl.us/consumers/house/FullInformation.aspx
Aran McKittrick is the Research and Development Officer inThe Department of Energy
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