World Environment Day - or how to save energy costs
As per the UNEP, yesterday was World Environment Day. For those who watch TV, you would have seen some news clipping on it... and said in your mind "yeah. need to do something about it" and then forgotten about it.
Why So ?? I think that the main problem with the media is that they don't tell us the solutions, but only throw up the problems. If they do show some solutions they are of such a scale that we probably cannot do them due to the impracticalities. Yes , global warming is an issue of epic proportions, but I believe that the problem which is going to catch us with our pants down is not an issue of global warming, but of energy crisis.
Conventional Fuel vs Alternative Fuel
Conventional fuels are the ones which we have grown up with. E.g. the petrol which goes into our cars. By some estimates we only have around 20 more years of petrol available. Since price depends on supply and demand, as the demand grows with the supply decreasing, the prices are going to skyrocket. Not only that, burning of such fuels increases the energy output to the atmosphere ... leading to global warming.
So, we have to look at ways of using the natural resources around to get the energy. We already use a few of them, but they are not being used in a critical mass to really get much benifits. Anyways, every little bit helps. Some examples :
Water/hydel energy :
Most of our homes are energized by the energy of falling water getting converted to electricity.
Drawback : Huge tracts of water get water logged. This not only destroys the natural ecosystem of that place, but also causes friction between the people who get displaced.
Solar Power: Its not picked up much. Some outlying places in india use solar power to light the street lights. One of the efforts to go solar is being led by Google which is setting up a 1.6MW plant on its campus to light it up.
Advantages : works great where there is an abundance of sunlight. e.g. India, California.
Disadvantages : cannot only depend on it. E.g. in my apartment building the hot water is through solar geysers. They work great when it is hot (e.g. summers) but not when I really need the hot water (rainy cold days). It will have to work in conjunction with other power sources, but still requires lots of work.
Wind Power: Some small plants have been setup, but I havent seen any applications to our regular life so far.
How can we save on our energy consumption.
Ok, here I come to the main part of my post. I am not going to say what all you can do to save the environment, I leave that to countless other websites. Here's a howto to save your energy consumption and so your money. Makes sense eh ? :-D
1. Use a bike.
Yeah. Well , you know I have a partial liking to bikes, so this has to come up :) . However, you save money when you use a bike to commute to the office. On an average , cars give a mileage of 10kmpl-15kmpl. On an average bikes give a mileage of 30-60kmpl ! Even my bike, which is petrol hungry gives almost 2-3 times more range compared to cars. Add to it that its easier to find parking, and negotiate traffic - this is a no brainer. Check out bikenomads to get addicted to bikes!
2. Use a cycle.
For those who are also concerned about their health, nothing better than cycling. Check out bikeszone , a forum by a friend of mine in Bangalore where you will find more people who travel on cycles to office.
3. Use CFLs.
CFLs cost more than tubes or bulbs. But their power consumption is very less. a 18W CFL gives as much light as 100w bulb or 40W tube, and longer bulb life also. Lesser energy, lesser costs on your pocket.
4. Grow plants in your home.
Having potted plants at home is a great way of cooling off the home. Have you noticed when you visit a friend who has lots of plants that his house always seems cooler ? ?
5. Use good curtains.
Basic funda is to prevent the heat from outside coming in too much , as well as loosing heat to the outside.
6. For the house builders.
If you are building your own house, there are many possibilities that you can look at for your home. Some of which I know of are :
i. Using a high ceiling. Keeps the house cooler.
ii. Use double paned glass on windows. It helps to insulate the house better.
7. Use LCD monitors.
They look cool, and they use less energy. a 19" CRT monitor consumes 100W of power, while the same size LCD consumes 35W. The initial cost per monitor may be higher , but the running cost is quite low. If you notice, most companies are going the LCD way even though the intial cost is higher per unit.
8. Use energy star compliant appliances.
Energy Star reduces consumption by about 15% . Buy your next fridge, AC , etc which are Energy Star rated.
9. Position the appliances carefully.
One of the things that I see is that refridgerators are mostly kept in houses snuck up to the wall. Do you know that the cooling coils are located at the back of the fridge ? Make sure that there is ample space behind the fridge for air to recycle.
10. Keep your cars and bikes properly tuned.
A better tuned car/bike utilizes the fuel more efficiently. Make sure your vehicles are in absolutely the best condition. Do regular services for you vehicle. If you are a bike user, then it is even better as you can do some of the things yourself.
Do you have something to contribute ? drop me a line !
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