How to save on energy costs

Saving Energy and Electricity

How to save on energy costs

Energy / Electricity costs keep on going up and are a large chunk of a family’s income. By using energy wisely money and the environment can be saved.

Reduce your hot water energy costs

With a few simple steps you can reduce your energy consumption for your bath/shower and even coffee or tea.

  • Lower the temperature to between 55 ° C to 60 ° C.
  • Make sure all hot water pipes are insulated to reduce heat loss.
  • Get solar heating or a heatpump.
  • Only boil enough water for the amount of tea or coffee.
  • Washing your hands with cold water and soap is as effective as using hot water.
  • Wash your clothes at a lower temperature.

Many people wast unnecessary energy and with that money on lights, while with a little investment and behavior change a lot of energy can be saved.

  • If you are not in a room, switch of the lights.
  • Use compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or Led lights instead of ordinary bulbs. In many countries incandescent or ordinary bulbs are now outlawed.
  • In the colder winter months heating cost increase, but with a few simple steps one can minimize energy consumption.

    • Use the correct heater for the requirements. For example infrared heaters don’t heat up the room, but transfer heat directly to a person body. They are ideal to use in for example a bathroom.
    • Choose a heater with a thermostat , so the heater switches of when the desired temperature is reached.
    • Dress warmly.
    • Insulate your house and seal gaps, to stop heat loss.

    Dishwashers and Washing machines are more efficient and save energy compared to washing by hand.

    • Fill the dishwasher completely, it will use the same amount of water and electricity as a half full dishwasher.
    • Use a lower temperature, in most cases your dishes will come out as clean.
    • When buying a new dishwasher or washing machine check for the energy rating and buy the appliance with the highest energy rating.
    • A front loader washing machine is more energy efficient then a top loader.
    • Make sure you have a full load before washing.
    • Try washing with a shorter cycle.

    Now with all the money saved, why not invest it in Renewable Energy for your home and save even more in the future.

Two Alternative & Renewable Energy Sources

As the world consumes and produces more energy we must cut back our us fossil fuels, and begin using alternative energy to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels

Currently we have 4 sources of renewable and alternative energy that we are able to produce: wind generation, solar energy, hydro power, and geothermal energy. Here we will discuss the most common two.

Wind Power

Wind as a source of power has been around for ages. Previous generations used wind in many different ways like, pump water, sailing ships, flour mils, saw mills and more. but at the start of the industrial and economic revolution, wind mills have improved and wind turbines were developed to supply electricity.

Lots of us learned about the old windmills in The Netherlands which were used to pump water or mill grain. The technology has improved developed hugely since the past decade. In this day and age wind turbines manage to generate thousands of megawatts of power, and once used on small scale projects, wind generation to create power will substitute standard energy sources, contributing to many households to get off the grid.

Solar Energy

Solar is the one of the most abundant form of energy available, we really should harness this great energy resource. We can use it on a large scale or a small scale. Technology is constantly improving and becoming more affordable. Households have many choices in regards Solar Energy. It can generate electricity, heat, be used for cooking etc.

Both electricity and heating systems powered by the sun are cost-effective, great for the environment and planet. Solar Installations require hardly any maintenance and after the initial investment have no running cost saving you on bills. Solar cookers are a great way of cooking food. They are affordable, portable and easy to use. It is a great solution used in many African countries where one has no power available.

Climate Change and Donald J Trump

With Donald J trump being inaugurated as 45th president of the USA, the war against climate change will take many steps back. It is widely expected that the Trump administration will rollback any progress made by the USA under the previous administration. Unfortunately Donald Trump does not believe in climate change and global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

Trump is busy wiping of information about climate change from the web. He has ordered that the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website.

These moves raises concerns that Trump, could seek to alter research showing that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels does not contribute to global warming. Years of good work will be undone by this man.

Countries close to achieving 100% renewable energy

With advances and investments in renewable energy made every day, some countries have become almost non reliant on fossil fuels (except cars, planes etc).

Costa Rica

The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) said that around 98.1 per cent of the country’s electricity came from green sources. consisting of a combination of geothermal, hydro electric, wind turbines, solar panels and biomass.

Iceland

Due to Iceland’s geology they can cover most if not all their energy needs from Renewable Sources. Almost 100 percent of electricity production is covered by Renewable Energy, with about 75 percent coming from hydro power and 25 percent from geothermal power. Geothermal power is also used for heating homes and buildings

Bonaire

Bonaire is a small country of the Venezuelan coast. It used to rely on diesel generators to provide electricity to its population and tourist. That all changed in 2004 when their main diesel generator burned down. The country now is now almost achieving 100% renewable energy. In peak times wind energy can provide 90% of the electricity needs of the small Island, they are backed up by Biodiesel Generators. The biodiesel. They plan to produce biodiesel from the abundance of algae.

Lesotho

The small mountainous country which is enclosed by South Africa achieves close to 100% of their electricity requirements through the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. This project was established to provide water to South Africa, with the added benefit to cover almost all of Lesotho’s electricity needs.

Paraguay

Paraquay has one of the world’s largest dams (Itaipu dam), Which provides almost 90% of Paraguay’s electricity and about 20% of Brazil’s electricity requirements.

With future developments and decreasing prices, we will see more countries improving their percentage of renewable energy. Countries like Germany, Denmark and Spain are investing heavily in Renewable Energy

Sustainable Energy Sources Compared

Sustainable Energy does not always equal to Renewable Energy, but Renewable Energy is a Sustainable Energy Source.

What are the different forms of sustainable energy and how do they compare? Sustainable Energy is a good alternative to fossil available today. New sources of Sustainable Energy Sources are being developed for the future. How reliable are the different forms of Sustainable Energy Resources and will they be sustainable in the future to form part of the energy mix? Below we will discus the different forms of Sustainable Energy and their advantages.

Solar Power

Solar power is generated through photo voltaic (PV) solar panels. Solar panels convert the sunlight into electricity. It is a viable solution in many countries and Solar Power systems are currently installed in many countries. New technology makes the the solar panels more effective than older systems. Currently about 16% of the sunlight gets converted into electricity. With new developments this should greatly improve and they will become more affordable. The improvement in efficiency and lowered costs means that solar power will play a greater part in our energy mix. There are alos some interesting installations where Solar Power is installed on top of parking bays. Not only creates this energy, but it keeps the cars parked underneat protected from heat and other elements.

Solar Heating

Solar Heating is the conversion of sunlight into renewable energy for water heating using a solar thermal collector, or used to cook food with a solar oven. Solar heating is a cost effective method to save electricity. When you invest in Solar Heating you will use less electricity and you can get away with a smaller Solar Power (PV) System. Solar heating can also be used to heat up pools.

A solar oven uses the power of the sun to cook food. By directing the sunlight into a solar oven you can raise the temperature of a box (Solar Oven) in order to make the temperature high enough to cook food. This is very sustainable solution in areas where there is little access to other energy resources like in many parts of Africa.

Solar Tubes & Skylights

Many houses have areas like passages which have not enough windows and tend to be dark. Instead of switching on a light why not install skylight or Solar tube to bring natural daylight into your dark room or passage. Some Solar Tubes have a natural ventilation system installed as well, which is great for areas like a bathroom with no windows.

As you can see there are many ways we can harness the energy of the sun.

Wind Power

Wind power has been harnessed for centurions, in the form of commercial shipping, windmills to mill grain and pump water. Nowadays wind power is being used to generate electricity through wind turbines and to pump water with wind pumps. Wind energy is one of the fastest growing sources of electricity in the world and it’s not hard to see why. Wind energy does not pollute or contaminate the surrounding area on which they are built. One wind turbine is capable of generating power for over 500 households. The only environmental impact is the dead of birds caught in a wind turbine and the visual pollution.

Hydro power

Hydro power is energy that is generated by the movement of water. Energy gets generated through water falling or flowing down a river and channeling it through a turbine.

Flowing water was used in ancient water mills to power various machines, from saws to cranes, mills, lifts and more.

Most hydro power requires the building of Dams & Reservoirs they can have an adverse affect on the environment and displace many people. A lot of research into the environmental impact has to happen before one can go ahead and built a dam.

One lesser know Hydro Power source is energy produced from the movement of ocean waters, through tidal, waves and others. This is often refereed to as marine power.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is generated by using or drilling into the thermal energy or heat generated at the Earth’s core. This energy can easily be harvested at tectonic plates and by drilling deep into the ground, then pumping in a heat transfer fluid such as water or steam.

Some countries using geothermal energy are New Zealand, Iceland, China, Japan, United States, Italy, Turkey, France & China.

Recycle and Save Energy

I recently got asked does recycling save energy? After researching the subject I came to the conclusion that recycling can substantial reduce the amount of energy we use amongst other benefits.

Why does recycling save energy?

Extracting and Refining Natural resources like Iron ore, Bauxite etc is labour intensive and requires lots of energy in the form of extracting, transporting and refining. Through the use of recycled material, many of the processes can be eliminated and gives a jump start in the production of the same or similar products.

Aluminium is a good example, the extraction of aluminium from bauxite has huge energy requirements. Aluminium can’s don’t have to go through the same process.

How much energy can be saved through recycling?

How much energy can be saved through recycling depends on the material being recycled, and how often it can be recycled. Certain materials like aluminium, glass and iron can be recycled over and over again. Plastics normally have been downgraded to lower quality plastic products as they degraded every time they got recycled, but technical improvements now enables manufacturers to create new high quality plastic products.

Aluminium

Recycling aluminium is the best example of saving energy. With the amount of energy used to make one aluminium can from scratch (starting with the mining of bauxite) 20 recycled aluminum can’s can be produced. So next time when you toss that aluminium can think twice and recycle.

Glass

Recycling glass does save substantial amounts of energy. If you want to find out more use the calculator found on the website of The Glass Recycling Company.

If you recycle 5 glass containers a week, you can power for example a computer for over 3 days. Now imagine this saving if everyone recycles there glass containers/bottles.

More energy can be saved by reusing bottles through a deposit system. Initially they will be more expensive to produce (they tend to be thicker and heavier so they will require more glass and higher transport cost, but in the long run they should save energy.

Paper

Creating new paper from recycled paper can save up to 60% percent of energy. Although through contamination (ink etc) it is difficult or impossible to make high quality bright white paper. Often recycles paper is downgraded to carton or newspapers.

Other benefits of recycling.

Besides the saving of energy, recycling has other benefits as well. We need less natural resources, produce less pollution and the recycled product will be cheaper.

Cutting Down On Energy Usage

Cutting down on energy usage is one of the best and economical action we can take. You can cut down on energy through insulating your home or purchasing energy efficiency appliances. decreasing our energy needs, not only saves costs, but minimizes the environmental impact.

Although the usage and generation of cleaner and renewable energy is growing, reducing power usage is still the first en most economical choice.

By saving energy, we are not only saving money, but we also reduce our dependence on fossil fuels like natural gas, oil and coal. The reduction of fossil fuels means lesser emissions greenhouse gasses, one of the major factors of global warming.

Energy saving ideas at home

Energy saving should start at home, one of the benefits is lower utility bills. Making your house more energy efficient not only saves money, but can improve the comfort of your living environment as well.

Some ways to reduce energy requirements are, insulation of your roof, walls and geyser can drastically reduce the energy consumption of heating and cooling your home.

Also consider replacing your old inefficient appliances for appliances with an A or B rating according to the South African Rating Standard. The South African Energy efficiency rating is measured from A to G with A being the most energy efficient.

Money saved due to energy saving can be utilized by investing in renewable energy sources.

The largest solar plant in the world to be switched on.

As reported by the guardian

Morocco’s king will switch on the first phase of a concentrated solar power plant on Thursday that will become the world’s largest when completed.

The power station on the edge of the Saharan desert will be the size of the country’s capital city by the time it is finished in 2018, and provide electricity for 1.1 million people.

Noor 1, the first section at the town of Ouarzazate, provides 160 megawatts (MW) of the ultimate 580MW capacity, helping Morocco to save hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

Article Source : The Guardian

What is a CSP or concentrated solar power?

CSP is used to produce electricity (sometimes called solar thermoelectricity, usually generated through steam). Concentrated-solar technology systems use mirrors or lenses with tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight onto a small area. The concentrated light is then used as heat or as a heat source for a conventional power plant (solar thermoelectricity). The solar concentrators used in CSP systems can often also be used to provide industrial process heating or cooling, such as in solar air-conditioning.

Concentrating technologies exist in five common forms, namely parabolic trough, enclosed trough, dish Stirlings, concentrating linear Fresnel reflector, and solar power tower.[15] Although simple, these solar concentrators are quite far from the theoretical maximum concentration.[16][17] For example, the parabolic-trough concentration gives about 1/3 of the theoretical maximum for the design acceptance angle, that is, for the same overall tolerances for the system. Approaching the theoretical maximum may be achieved by using more elaborate concentrators based on nonimaging optics.[18]

Different types of concentrators produce different peak temperatures and correspondingly varying thermodynamic efficiencies, due to differences in the way that they track the sun and focus light. New innovations in CSP technology are leading systems to become more and more cost-effective.

Commercial applications of Concentrated Solar Power

CSP is being widely commercialized and the CSP market has seen about 740 megawatt (MW) of generating capacity added between 2007 and the end of 2010. More than half of this (about 478 MW) was installed during 2010, bringing the global total to 1095 MW. Spain added 400 MW in 2010, taking the global lead with a total of 632 MW, while the US ended the year with 509 MW after adding 78 MW, including two fossil–CSP hybrid plants.[4] The Middle East is also ramping up their plans to install CSP based projects and as a part of that Plan, Shams-I which was the largest CSP Project in the world has been installed in Abu Dhabi, by Masdar. The largest CSP project in the world until January 2016 is Noor in Morocco.

There is considerable academic and commercial interest internationally in a new form of CSP, called STEM, for off-grid applications to produce 24 hour industrial scale power for mining sites and remote communities in Italy, other parts of Europe, Australia, Asia, North Africa and Latin America. STEM uses fluidized silica sand as a thermal storage and heat transfer medium for CSP systems. It has been developed by Salerno-based Magaldi Industries. The first commercial application of STEM will take place in Sicily from 2015.

CSP growth is expected to continue at a fast pace. As of January 2014, Spain had a total capacity of 2,300 MW making this country the world leader in CSP. Interest is also notable in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as India and China. The global market has been dominated by parabolic-trough plants, which account for 90% of CSP plants.

Biogas as an energy source

Biogas as an energy source, many people would never consider this as a viable & renewable energy source.

Biogas can be used in many different ways. Cooking, Heating, Lighting, and powering generators and turbines those are all choices to use this source of energy.

Biogas typically refers to a mixture of different gases produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Biogas can be produced from raw materials such as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant material, sewage, green waste or food waste. Biogas consist of Methane (CH4) & Carbon Dioxide(CO2).

Biogas as a fuel is used for any heating purpose, such as cooking. It is also used to convert it into electricity and heat. Other uses are as fuels for cars and machinery. The use of biogas can help farmers to drive down their input cost by generating their own energy.

Biogas is a clean and renewable form of energy which produces less greenhouse gases than conventional energy sources (coal,oil).

Any organic material is suitable to make biogas, Killing two birds in one, it can assist in the disposal of agricultural waste and organic materials in landfills naturally produce biogas, which can be tapped..

The remaining liquid organic waste (which is left after the production of Biogas) can be used as a fertiliser for crops, which makes the cycle continue and repeat itself.

So who thought that cow manure, rotting plants and landfills can be used to generate energy.

Non renewable energy sources.

We have written a lot about renewable energy sources, but the world is still mainly powered by non renewable energy sources. The first problem with non renewable energy sources are not only that once they are depleted they are no more (although proven reserves of non renewable energy sources indicates that there is still more of it then the world can consume for a very long time, hence the current oversupply of oil.).

The second problem is that although there are plenty of known reserves some of them are costly to access, which can turn into a positive if renewable energy becomes cheaper as non renewable energy.

The third problem is environmental, the extraction of fossil fuels can damage the surrounding environment including, water pollution and extraction of water. When burning fossil fuels it can have an affect on the health of nearby populations and it is a major contributor to global warming. The main disadvantage for nuclear fuel is radio active waste, which needs to be managed very well. A major incident with a nuclear reactor can have negative effects for a wide area.

The economic cost of non renewable energy, might not be around currently, but future generations might suffer the consequences.

Some non renewable energy sources are

  • Coal
  • Oil
  • Natural Gas
  • Uranium, used for nuclear energy

Surprisingly a lot of people consider wood a non renewable resource, but most plantations are managed well and are replenished at a sufficient rate so that it is considered as a renewable and sustainable source of energy.

Non renewable energy sources.

coalmining non renewable energy