posted by Dale Hoyland on 17 May 2012
There are increasing financial burdens on us all. As global oil reserves become depleted, we have to look further, come up with technological enhancements to drill deeper or explore harsher environments, all of which push up the cost of this irreplaceable energy source.
The price of oil affects almost everything, as most things are transported or processed, thereby burning fossil fuels at some point. This article explores some of the ways in which we can all make a difference to the world, helping to ensure that future generations to come have an environment worth inheriting... ...It'll save you money too!
The energy hierarchy provides a clear route to which we can begin to reduce our carbon footprint. Firstly, through simple behavioural changes, we can use less energy: things like switching off lights and equipment when they're not needed.
Being more aware of our energy use is a start, and I would recommend the use of a 'Energy Monitor' or 'Current Cost Monitor' for this, which enables the householder or business to see in real-time how much electricity is being used.
The next stage of the energy hierarchy, once unnecessary energy wastage has been cut out or reduced, is to use the remaining energy demand more efficiently. This is done through improvements to the fabric of the building, and the technological enhancements for equipment.
Insulation is arguably the most cost-effective way to increase your energy efficiency (particularly if loft insulation needs topping up, or there are unfilled cavities in the wall: if in a solid-wall property, the costs involved are far greater, but still make good-economic sense, as well as cutting carbon emissions to the atmosphere.
When the Green Deal comes into force towards the end of 2012, you should be able to get an up-front loan to cover costs of solid-wall insulation, subject to survey). Technological improvements include upgrading to A-rated equipment, lighting upgrades to lower-energy florescent or LED's, implementing power-saving or power-smoothing equipment within the building.
The final stage, once energy wastage has been cut, remaining energy demand is being used as efficiently as possible, is to try to source on-site energy (electricity or heat) from renewable technology. This is only particularly effective if the first two stages of the hierarchy have been implemented, as renewable technologies are still a sizable investment.
Having said that, recent incentives such as the Feed-in-Tariffs (paying a generation tariff for qualifying electricity-producing on-site renewables) have helped to make the economic case for such technology, as well as driving the market; reducing product and installation costs, and pushing efficiency improvements.
The first stage should not be underestimated. It is largely no-cost / low-cost to implement, but the savings can be significant. We all have our own ways of saving money (many in relation to gas/electricity/water), and there's lots of advice out there - you need look no further than USEA's Affordable Warmth advice line if you're a resident of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire or Milton Keynes, or our Sustainable Business Support services for businesses if that's where you're looking to make significant savings (more information available from the Sustainable Energy Services team, firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01993 894 834).
Through the Affordable Warmth Networks, we've compiled a comprehensive booklet called 'EasySave' filled with energy-efficiency tips, split between a variety of topics from cooking to lighting to getting the most from your particular heating system. These are available to residents of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes by calling the advice line on freephone 0800 107 00 44. From time-to-time, we undertake revisions to this booklet, so if you have any interesting or unique tips on saving on fuel bills, or being more energy efficient, please use the comments section below to tell me! Your suggestion might just make it into the next edition of our literature...
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