Now that governments around the world are starting to wake up to the perils of global warming and climate change, many households and companies are beginning to ask themselves what they can do to protect the planet. Going green is easy and affordable – and in many cases does not involve any expenditure, simply a change of processes and habits. There are all kinds of changes you can make to cut down on your energy usage and form more sustainable practices, and these changes can be big or small, but they all make a difference. And not only will you have peace of mind that you’re doing your bit for the planet, but your energy bills will reduce as well. Here are some ideas for home and office.
Day to day
Small changes add up to make a big difference. Taking a look at your day to day habits and adjusting your behavior in certain areas can cut down your energy consumption, without even going shopping for energy efficient fittings and appliances. Simple things – remembering to turn lights off, switching the heating off when it isn’t needed, taking quicker showers. We are increasingly reliant on machines to take care of our tasks – hang out the laundry rather than use a dryer, or wash dishes by hand.
One place that homes and businesses can address their energy usage is lighting. Traditional bulbs are extremely energy inefficient, and also have a short lifespan. Replacing them with halogen incandescent bulbs – LEDs or CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) – means less cost and less energy spent. They use 25-80 percent less electricity and last 3 to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs, so are ideal to cut down on energy bills, even if they are more expensive to buy off the shelf.
Finally the planet seems determined to do something about the use of fossil fuels – unsustainable and associated with catastrophic levels of pollution. Many are turning to alternative energy sources to power homes and businesses, and fortunately converting to a sustainable energy source is easier and more affordable than ever. Using solar energy, wind energy, tidal energy and more greatly reduces emissions. Equipping a building to run on alternative energy does require some work, such as specialist valves and solar panels, etc. But it is certainly an investment for the future, in many ways.
Reducing the amount of paper we use is not a new concept – but more and more offices have gone fully paperless. In a modern world of email communication, digital presentations and electronic invoicing, the need to print out every last piece of information has been effectively eliminated. The cost of supplying even a modestly sized office with enough printer or copier paper, ink or toner per year can run into the thousands, whilst the environmental impact is colossal – not only does the paper industry contribute to deforestation, but it also requires enormous amounts of water to produce even a single sheet of A4. Even if you don’t go fully paper-free, there are myriad ways to reduce the amount of paper that gets needlessly used on a day to day basis, helping sustain our forests and water supplies for generations of the future. So think before you print!
A large percentage of the energy we use at home is spent on heating our houses and apartments. It is very easy, particularly during the winter months, to leave on the central heating for much longer than is necessary. If you’re currently living in an area where the temperature drops below freezing you may find yourself leaving the heating on when you are away from home to stop the pipes from freezing. A smart meter will help reduce the costs and waste usually associated with heating your house. You can program it to switch the heating on and off at specific times, adjust the temperature and monitor your energy usage. You can also program it remotely so that the house can heat up before you arrive home, or so you can switch off the heating from work if you’ve forgotten.
Thankfully green practices are now becoming the norm, and people are much more tuned into environmental issues. But going green at home and at work has the added bonus of saving money as well.