Most energy is currently produced by the burning of fossil fuels. This pollutes the atmosphere, contributing to global warming, air pollution and acid rain. We can reduce energy consumption by improving the energy supply and by using energy more efficiently.
A more efficient supply of energy would enable reductions to be made in the amount of resources which are required to produce the same amount of energy by less efficient means. Gas-fired power stations for example, are more fuel-efficient and less polluting than coal and oil power stations at generating electricity. Combined Heat and Power (CHP) reuses waste heat produced during electricity generation, and can enable the supply of fuel to a power plant to be reduced. In most conventional power stations, a mere 30-50% of the energy consumed is converted to electricity. The fuel efficiency of an industrial CHP plant can be more than 80%, and losses from electricity transmission and distribution are minimised by locating CHP plants at the site where the electricity is needed.
As an individual, we have very little influence on how our energy is produced, whether by coal or gas-fired power stations, or alternatively by renewable wind or solar power. However, the individual does have control on how they use that available energy. Through the use of simple measures, we can effectively bring about a reduction in energy consumption, thereby reducing the need for energy production. This would in turn lead to reductions in the price of fuel bills.
There are a number of different things we can do to reduce our energy use, including:
- using energy saving light bulbs;
- draught proofing doors;
- insulating lofts;
- external wall insulating;
- fitting a hot water jacket to the water tank;
- having showers instead of baths when possible;
- not placing a fridge/freezer next to the cooker;
- lowering slightly the temperature setting of the central heating;
- fitting double-glazing.