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Energy Explorers: How can we become more energy efficient?

Blog : 20 February 2017

This week Exeter City Futures is pleased to introduce work experience student Leo – our first Energy Explorer. Over the course of the week Leo will be exploring issues surrounding energy efficiency in the Exeter region and sharing his own experiences of commuting, renewable energy generation and making buildings more energy efficient. In his first blog Leo asks how can we become more energy efficient.

 

Energy efficiency means using less energy to provide the same service. In physics, it relates to the percentage of total energy input to a machine or equipment that is consumed in useful work and not wasted.

Why does it concern me?

Energy efficiency is not only a distant and foreign concept that concerns new businesses and modern developments; it concerns everybody from you and me, to those living in cities and even in the isolated countryside. The more energy we use from non-renewable resources the more it costs us, and the resulting pollution can have a negative effect on our environment.

Furthermore, energy efficiency can also be achieved by ground-up initiatives, choices, and activities that can be led by you and your community.

So how do I become more energy efficient?

First and most importantly, we must consider how much energy we use each day. One way of visualizing this is to think of the main activities that we engage in. Whether it be travel, eating, working, or even heating and lighting your home every part of our daily routines use energy.

 

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How much energy do you use when you eat?

By talking with your family members or housemates, you can compare each other’s weekly energy consumption to identify areas where you energy efficient and areas where you could make cutbacks. This allows us to become more aware of sustainability and issues affecting our daily lives. You can learn how to work out how many kilowatt-hours you use in our blog What is a Watt-hour?

How is this put into practice at home/workplace?

If we replace household appliances less frequently with more efficient ones, such as low energy light bulbs, freezers, and dishwashers, we are becoming more environmentally friendly, as well as saving a bit of money in the future!

By asking ourselves questions such as ‘does the landing light upstairs need to be on if I am downstairs watching T.V. in the living room?’ or ’do we need to heat the whole house?’ prompts us to make small lifestyle decisions that are more energy efficient.

To manage our energy usage and calculate the rate we will pay, we can read and monitor our energy meters too. The adoption of solar panels on our roofs is a great investment and way to generate renewable energy ourselves.

 

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Ground-mounted solar panels outside the office of Exeter City Futures in Oxygen House

The energy rating system manufacturers put on all electronic devices and in home insulation solutions can also help us to achieve this.

For example, the alphabetical grading system for windows tells us how much heat they will lose, and allows us to plan on how we will heat our homes. An investment in more expensive technologies, such as double or even treble glazing, may be worth it in the long term.

 

But what about out of the home/workplace?

In many situations out of the home it becomes slightly harder to control how much energy we use, especially when traveling. This is because we may be wasting energy through transport services by simply not using them in a viable way.

Again if we can begin to ask ourselves questions like ‘could I cycle to work today?’ we may find that it is often more practical to arrange activities such as car sharing on a commute to work or school; or by walking out to get shopping if you can.

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Energy efficiency is about transport too. By increasing active transportation we can reduce our energy consumption.

When travelling abroad, for example during city breaks, one could opt for walking or cycling tours over tourist buses and trains where possible.

By changing our consumer habits, we empower ourselves to take control of our energy usage and become more efficient. Remember, lots of small, positive changes can help to make a big change!

 

If you want to become an Energy Explorer like Leo share your experiences with us on Twitter @ExeCityFutures or on our Facebook page. Let us know how much energy you’re using, and how you’re making your lifestyle more energy efficient.