If you’re like most people then chances are that you’ve already introduced at least some changes to your lifestyle to help contribute toward helping the environment. Recycling as much as you can and decreasing your reliance on plastic are great ways to reduce waste and help conserve scarce natural resources.
But how about focusing on the bigger picture? Figuring out how to use green energy to power many of the domestic appliances and electronic devices in your home? It can seem daunting at first, but like everything else, if you stick with it then things will start to fit into place.
Ultimately your personal decision to use renewable energy is a significant contribution that can help make a huge difference to the environment in the long run. Let’s see how:
Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
While the term “carbon footprint” may seem clichéd through casual overuse, it remains a helpful way to understand the real, traceable implications of your energy usage. Fossil fuels (such as oil, gas, and coal) emit carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air which not only causes short-term pollution, but contributes to long-term climate change.
Each time you use fossil fuels – to heat your shower, power your computer, or drive your car -you are contributing to the excessive and toxic emission of CO2 into the environment. Using green alternatives such as solar power, wind energy, and hydroelectricity however reduces your carbon footprint because these energy sources are natural, renewable and non-polluting. Also, they convert natural energy directly into electricity (for which we already have a massive amount of infrastructure in place) and thus do not have to be converted from one energy form to another.
Protecting the Earth’s Supply of Fossil Fuels
Our planet is naturally endowed with only a limited supply of fossil fuels, whereas energy sources such as the sun, wind, and water are renewable and abundant. As the supply of fossil fuels continues to diminish, the competition for, and therefore price of, these fuels will only increase. Making the switch to more environmentally friendly energy sources helps to reduce the demand for these precious fossil fuels.
Protecting Endangered Species
This point is closely linked with the last, because as we become ever more desperate to locate natural deposits of fossil fuels, we do so at the expense of many other species. Whenever there is an oil leak or spill, an area is deforested, or a mountaintop is removed, the surrounding natural habitat and its native species are often put in grave danger (and more frequently then many people realize, threatened with imminent extinction).
In addition, many fossil fuel extraction processes release pollutants into the air, which places even humans at a greater risk for contracting health conditions such as asthma and cancer.
The adoption of greener forms of energy provides a great many clear environmental advantages over the use of fossil fuels, but many people have been hesitant to adopt green solutions because they associate them with higher costs.
While it is certainly true that “going green” where fuel is concerned generally involves a bigger up-front commitment, those costs are now being heavily subsidized in part by government tariffs and incentives, and especially so in the UK.
The Feed-In Tariff (FIT) was introduced in April of 2010 to encourage individual households to start generating their own electricity from solar PV panels. The tariff works on the basic principle of providing compensation for each unit of electricity you generate.
Once your solar PV panels are installed, you fill out a form to receive a Microgeneration Certificate Scheme (MCS) commissioning certificate, which you will need when you complete each FIT meter reading to receive payment.
Currently, the payment rate for each unit of electricity generated is 21 pence per kilowatt hour and you can receive payments guaranteed for up to 25 years with a total return on investment of something like 3 or 4 times! But then, as already noted, you do have to stump up the initial cost of installing the panels.
Renewable Heat Incentive
The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is another new initiative developed by the UK government. Like FIT, the concept behind RHI is to incentivize individuals and companies for every kilowatt hour of heat they produce from renewable technologies. These include solid biomass, geothermal, solar thermal, biogas combustion, biomethane injection, and ground and water source heat pumps.
The first phase of this project is targeted toward non-residential systems and offers 8.5 pence per kilowatt hour over a 20-year period. Residential systems are expected to be eligible for participation between late fall of 2012 and summer of 2013.
As you can see, both the FIT and RHI schemes are structured to help recover high installation costs. You can also expect to see a very significant decrease in your utility bills over the lifespan of your green investment, turning that initial expense into a very wise long term investment.
So why not become part of the solution yourself by making the switch to green energy as quickly as possible – it’s the only sustainable future for our planet and it is likely to save you shed loads of money into the bargain!