Becoming Energy Efficient
Energy has transformed our material life and brought magic to our lives through its different forms—light, sound, heat and electricity. But we consume it in large amounts and often waste it.
We all interact with energy every day in various forms – electricity through various appliances like bulbs, fans, televisions, fridges, petrol or diesel through vehicles we use to travel, LPG or biomass we use for cooking. Energy can be categorized in various ways; one of the ways is using the source they are generated from. If the energy is generated from an infinite source, source that is inexhaustible is called renewable energy. For instance energy from sun, wind, water etc is considered renewable energy. On the contrary, when the source of energy is exhaustible it is called non-renewable energy. Generally fossil fuels like coal, petroleum, etc are non-renewable sources of energy. India, for example has oil reserves that might last for 19 years, natural gas for 28 years and coal reserves for around 200 years.
In today’s world, using less and less fossil fuels is encouraged because of their polluting nature. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This enhances the global temperature and is known to impact the world’s climate. Global warming is the phenomenon in the increase of Earth’s temperature due to effect of greenhouse gases.
The impact of ‘global warming’ has already reached scorching levels, and is rising rapidly. Here is a sample of what the future holds:
- There will be dramatic changes in weather patterns. Rainfall will increase sharply in higher altitudes and decrease in lower ones. Storms and hurricanes will become more frequent. So will heat-waves and droughts. The threat of natural calamities, ranging from cloudbursts, avalanches and landslides to glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), mudflows and earthquakes will intensify.
- The most critical link between glaciers and climate is maintaining the earth’s water balance. In fact, glacier melt has contributed as much as 30 per cent of the change in sea level in the 20th century.
There are two key issues that loom when we explore this wonder resource called energy. First, there are finite or limited amounts of non-renewable energy sources. Unfortunately, the human race has become addicted to these and has already used up far more than it can afford. So Planet Earth is heading for a major energy crisis.
Second, overuse of these forms of energy has completely tilted the atmospheric balance that nature had created to make this a habitable planet. Increased carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles burning diesel and petrol and industries and factories using coal and oil are turning on the heat in the atmosphere.
So What Do We Do?
We consume less and conserve: Saving energy is the first step to energy conservation. Switching off electrical gadgets when they are not in use and turning off the car engine while waiting at a traffic signal point are great ways to start. This, however, is not enough. Investing in products, appliances and services that use energy more efficiently is a second step, e.g. using LEDs that consume 10 times less electricity than ordinary bulbs and driving fuel-efficient vehicles. New and innovative technology is the buzz word here. But again, this is not enough!
We find alternatives: Technology has to be used to find more long-term and sustainable solutions, such as ways to harness energy from renewable sources more efficiently, cost effectively and on a larger scale. The sun, wind, and biomass can be used to produce energy that can be spent and then created again—without threatening the precarious climatic balance—as these sources are far less polluting than fossil fuels. Interestingly, in India, this switchover will mainly affect those who live in cities and towns because they are the prime consumers of fossil fuels or commercial energy. India is energy-scarce and has a price-sensitive market. But it is also blessed with abundant solar irradiation that can be harnessed effectively to mitigate energy scarcity to a large extent. The ministry of new and renewable energy has proposed ambitious renewable energy targets of 175,000 MW – 100,000 MW of solar, 60,000 MW of wind, 10,000 MW from biomass and 5,000 MW from small hydro power.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Burning fossil fuels releases a complex mixture of pollutants. Exposure to these pollutants causes acute short-term effects, such as irritation of the eyes and headaches, as well as chronic long-term diseases, like lung cancer.
- WHO estimates that 10-15 per cent of Indian children in the 5-11 age group suffer from asthma. It costs an average of Rs 300 per month to buy a child’s asthma medicines.
- The first step towards saving energy is to meter all sources of energy used.
- Ninety per cent of the total electricity used by a standard incandescent light bulb is wasted as heat.
- Over 1.6 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity of which roughly 25 per cent are in India.
- One busload of people takes 40 vehicles off the road during rush hour, saves 70,000 litres of petrol, and avoids over 175 tonnes of emission every year.
- The thickness of the tube light is directly proportional to its power consumption. The thicker the tube light the more electricity it consumes. The ultra slim tube light are not only stylish, they consume the least amount of electricity.
- Ceiling fans consume more electricity compared to light, but still are not paid enough attention when we think of electricity savings. A regular unrated ceiling fan can consume 75 watts of power whereas the thickest tube light consumes 40 watts. Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has rated the ceiling fans and a super efficient fan with the best air delivery system can use as less as 35 watts of power.
- Bureau of Energy Efficiency was set up in 2002 under the Energy Conservation Act, 2001 to create policies and develop strategies with a thrust on self-regulation and market principles to achieve energy efficiency. BEE sets the standards and label for marking star-rating of various appliances. They have been rating refrigerators and air-conditioners based on energy efficiency since 2006.
- We waste about 7-10% of units of electricity because of appliances in the standby mode. We can save this amount of power simply by turning off the switch once the devise is no longer being used.
- If the flame of the cookstove in your house burns blue, it means that there is efficient use of gas and if it burns yellow, it means that there is impartial combustion and it produces gases that are harmful for your health. Make sure that the stove is clean and always use the flame so that it burns blue.