As technology makes our lives easier, we become increasingly reliant on household appliances. There’s appliances that clean our teeth, vacuum our floors, cook our meals and ‘talk’ to each other through the magic of wifi connectivity. Yet although these modern conveniences are great for freeing up some time in the day, they’re not so good for our electricity bills…or for our environment.
Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do to change that ― and it doesn’t mean giving up on gadgets entirely and living off the grid. No matter who you are or where you live, we all have the ability to minimise our footprint on the environment, and all it takes is a few simple lifestyle adjustments. Here’s four ways you can be more environmentally conscious, without going to extremes as an environmental crusader.
1. Light it up
A sizable chunk of total greenhouse gas emissions in Australia is caused by household lighting. Fortunately, this is an easy one to address through the installation of LED lighting. LED not only uses less energy and lasts longer than traditional light globes, it’s cheaper to run (in fact, you can knock up to $20 per globe off your power bill each year).
Another simple adjustment you can make to reduce your reliance on lighting is to make better use of natural daylight around the home. Open up those window curtains and blinds, and try to hold off on turning on your lights in the evening until you really need to. Alternatively, if you find you don’t get adequate indoor light, consider installing a skylight or solar lighting to take full advantage of the sun.
When you do need to switch on the lights, be mindful about where you need them. Turn them off when you leave a room, and in areas of the home you don’t frequently use. Tip: if you have a habit of forgetting to turn your lights off, try putting a timer device on them to avoid unnecessary energy use.
2. Get your gadgets in check
We all know that choosing household appliances with a high ‘star’ rating is good for reducing overall energy consumption, but it doesn’t end there. Given the rate at which technology develops, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of auditing your household appliances and giving some thought to what you really need. Do you really need to buy that hotdog maker, or the latest tablet? If the answer is yes, be sure to consider how your old appliances are disposed of.
You’ve no doubt heard that switching off electrical gadgets such as televisions, microwaves and computers at the power source makes a significant difference to lowering your energy consumption ― and while it’s not that hard to do, it can be inconvenient. If you’ve got a bad habit of leaving everything on standby, try a product like Eco Switch ― which works like a lighting timer and can save you around 10% in energy consumption each year.
3. Minimise waste in the kitchen
It’s reported that Aussies throw away around $10 billion in household groceries each year, which is phenomenal. Especially when it doesn’t take much effort to plan ahead.
By putting a little time every weekend into planning out your week ahead, you’ll be able to predict how much you need to buy much more accurately. Be realistic; sure tomatoes might be on special this week, but if you’re going to be flat out rushing between meetings and appointments, it’s unlikely you’re going to get around to making that tomato sugo you’ve been meaning to.
It doesn’t take much; just keeping a better eye on your pantry stocks (consider doing an audit every few months because there’s probably things in there you don’t remember you had) is going mean you’re a step closer to minimising food waste. Another way you can be more environmentally conscious in the kitchen is to learn new ways to use all those parts of fruit and veggies that usually get chucked out. For example, did you know that broccoli stalk is actually the best part? Or that those celery tips and leaves can be used to garnish a salad, enhance a soup or a stock base or feed your pet?
4. Better building design
As global temperatures rise and severe weather events become more common as a result of climate change, the construction industry has responded by adopting smarter building design practices. One of these is the incorporation of passive design techniques into the plans for new homes.
Passive design means working with the natural environment to build a space which retains optimal temperature as much as possible, without the need for additional heating or air conditioning. By carefully designing the ‘building envelope’ (the basic structure of a home, including walls, roof, windows and floor), passive design can maximise natural sources of heating and cooling ― such as the sun or sea breeze.
Whether you’re building a new home or renovating your current one, passive design has become an increasingly popular option for people who want to minimise their environmental impact.
With all the modern conveniences at our disposal, it’s easy to take natural resources such as water, food and energy for granted. Being environmentally conscious doesn’t mean turning your back on technology; rather, it’s about putting thought into the actions you take, the purchases you make and the way you affect the environment ― and actively reducing unnecessary burden to the environment.
For more tips on how to make a difference, check out Steve’s blog or get in touch to chat about your electrical needs.
About the Author
Steve Hutchings is an electrician and owner of Electric Express Solutions, a family operated and owned team of electricians.