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Energy - Sustainable supplies

Moving towards a sustainable energy resource future

Key words
Renewable energy sources - A resource which is not diminished when it is used; it recurs and cannot be exhausted (for example wind and tidal energy).
Sustainable energy supply - Energy that can potentially be used well into the future without harming future generations. Sustainable energy is the combination of energy savings, energy efficiency measures and technologies, as well as the use of renewable energy sources.
Energy conservation - Reducing energy consumption through using less energy and becoming more efficient in using existing energy sources.

We have seen so far that although fossil fuel use can help enormously with providing secure energy supplies to countries there are many environmental and social drawbacks, including air pollution and its negative health impacts, and the consequences of climate change.
There is a desire around the globe within many people to achieve energy security in a more sustainable and renewable manner.  It is hoped that we can have sustainable development with sustainable energy use - development that meets the needs of the present without limiting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  This involves considering sustainable energy supplies, renewable energy sources and energy conservation
There are 3 main areas here;
1. Individual energy use and carbon footprints.
2. Energy conservation: designing homes, workplaces and transport for sustainability, demand reduction,
3. Use of technology to increase efficiency in the use of fossil fuels

1. Individual energy use and carbon footprints.
A carbon footprint is defined as “the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)”( As individuals, we can focus on numerous parts of our lives to reduce the amount of energy that we use. We can make many choices such as;
• Do we buy our food locally or from faraway places that increases food miles?
• Do we opt to walk and cycle for shorter journeys? Is public transport an option?
• When buying a new car, has an electric or hybrid car been considered before a more energy inefficient vehicle?
• Do we switch off devices or leave them on standby?
• Choosing to buy energy efficient products (see label below)
Energy efficiency label

2. Energy conservation:

Energy conservation is all about using energy as efficiently as possible and trying to minimise waste. Indeed, it is about reducing energy consumption through using less energy and becoming more efficient in using existing energy sources.Energy conservation is something that all people can do and should be concerned with.  There are many things we can do to reduce our use of energy to conserve it such as;

General Home tips In the kitchen… In the bathroom… Insulation… In Living areas and bedrooms…
Light bulbs - Replacing just one old light bulb with an energy saving one can reduce lighting costs by up to £78 over the lifetime of the bulb. They also last up to 12 times longer than ordinary light bulbs.

Radiators - Fit reflector panels behind your radiators. These can reflect back into the room 95% of the heat energy radiated from the rear of your radiator.

Curtains - Close your curtains at dusk to retain the heat in each room. In the winter line your curtains or use thermal or heavier curtains to save money.

Thermostat - Approximately, you can save around 3% on your heating bill for every degree that you turn down your thermostat.

Taps - A dripping hot water tap can waste enough hot water to fill half a bath in just one week, so fix leaking taps and make sure they’re all fully turned off.
Dishwasher - Fill the dishwasher before using. Use the economy setting if you have that option. In some dishwashers this can be more efficient than washing by hand.

Kettle - Don't boil a full kettle every time, only boil the amount you need.

Oven - Try not to open the oven door while cooking if possible. Heat lost by opening the door causes the oven to use more energy.

Hob - Avoid using oversized pots and use a lid where you can. Stacked steamers are a great of harnessing the power of one hob to cook more than one item.

Fridges & Freezers - Defrost these appliances regularly, this helps them to run more efficiently. Pack your fridge and freezer. Food acts as insulation, so keeping your fridge and freezer stocked lessens the amount of time it has to run to stay cool.
Wash basin - Don't leave taps running unnecessarily, use the plug and keep the water in the basin.

Shower/Bath - Use the shower rather than the bath whenever possible - it uses considerably less energy. Also, as showers and baths account for most of a household's hot-water use, cutting showers from 20 minutes to 10 minutes could slash water-heating costs by 25%.

Hot water tank - If you have a hot water tank check that it is well insulated.


Cavity wall insulation - Cavity wall insulation can save energy users up to £270 a year, with the average saving being £120 every year.

Loft insulation - The approximate saving per year for those who have thick loft insulation installed is £175.
Under-floor insulation - Older homes are more likely to have suspended timber floors.

Timber floors can be insulated by lifting the floorboards and laying mineral wool insulation supported by netting between the joists. This can save you around £60 per year and cost as little as £100 if you do it yourself.

Windows and doors - Replacing all single-glazed windows with B-rated double glazing could save you around £165 per year on your energy bills.

General appliances - Before you go to bed turn off the power to appliances such as TV's, Stereo's, DVD players and any other items that do not need to stay on. These appliances can consume considerable amounts of energy while on standby. You could also try using power strips. With all your appliances all plugged into the same area, you'll have an easier time remembering to turn everything off.

Draught-proofing - Draught-proofing windows, doors, loft hatches, wall and ceiling fittings and ceiling-to-wall joints saves the average home £55 per year on heating bills. DIY draught-proofing typically costs around £120 for materials and professional draught-proofing can cost double this.

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Many of the above strategies can apply to businesses as well.  Together with Businesses investing in renewable energies (such as the wind farm at the Nissan car plant in Sunderland). Businesses can also look at energy conservation in their buildings by having sensors that detect if people are in rooms and shutting down computers and lights when people are not.  Businesses can also reduce temperatures in the work place and opt for low wattage light solutions.

3. Use of technology to increase efficiency in the use of fossil fuels

Technology can be used to improve the efficiency of our use of fossil fuels. Although it would be preferable to eliminate fossil fuel use and move towards a sustainable energy future, making fossil fuel use more efficient could be a transitory step on our way.
Combined heat and power (CHP) is on such technology that could help.  It is the use of a heat engine or power station to generate electricity and useful heat at the same time.  It involves using traditional burning of coal, oil or gas in power stations to drive generators for the production of electricity.  However, it improves the process by using the waste heat produced in this process to heat water for the use in housing projects or large public buildings such as schools and hospitals.  By capturing the excess heat, CHP uses heat that would be wasted in a conventional power plant, potentially reaching an efficiency of up to 80%. This means that less fuel needs to be consumed to produce the same amount of useful energy.

Combined heat and power
Other innovative schemes include Britain's first all year-round tomato nursery, which was built on Teesside using pioneering technology and using waste steam from nearby factories to help grow them.

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