Earth Notes: Saving The Planet @HomeSite updated 2022-07-03 21:24 GMT.
Want to do your bit at home to improve your quality of life, save money, cut down on waste and carbon pollution, and get the planet back how it used to be?
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On Earth Notes
Featured: Solar Panels in My Garden (easyread microgen podcast short tech)
Find out why I have solar panels on my garden wall as well as on my roof! #podcast #solar #garden #microgen
What are the panels in my garden (AKA back yard) for and do I run my toaster off them? No, but I run my Internet server and laptop from them instead! (Alison F asked me to create a couple of recordings about green features of my house: here's the first.)
Domestic Heat Pumps: Barriers to Installation (2022) (microgen short)
On Website Technicals (2022-06) (blog site tech)
Thermal Imaging Survey: DIY vs Professional (easyread frugal)
On Clip-On Power Meters for the UK: Review (2011) (easyread frugal review)
On Solar DHW @Home, Thermino and PV Divert (microgen tech)
Bats Around our Home aka 16WW (2021) (dataset research)
On 16WW Data Collections and Graphs (dataset tech)
Random: On Website Technicals (2021-03) (blog site tech)
Tech updates: DNS primary fun, fast site, build faster in the sun, new dump scheme, flaky router, bylines.
Things That We've Done
We've crunched our carbon footprint. We've become a SuperHome. We've pondered other changes that we might make. But most of all there's been quite a lot of fun learning. Maybe it's my engineering mindset, but I've made a hobby out of conservation and meter watching. I've had fun out of 'tuning' life a little. The rest of my family humours me!
See a full list of articles under search at the top of the page, and here's some actions to start with that we took...
- made my home study/office carbon-neutral including reducing energy consumption from my Internet-facing servers at home from over 600W to about 2W
- switched our electricity supply to a "100% green" tariff with Ecotricity so that what we do consume is as green as possible
- cut our electricity consumption and added grid-tied solar PV microgeneration to the point where we are net exporters to the grid
- weatherproofed/weatherised our home amongst our other conservation measures such as using (OpenTRV) thermostatic radiator values and aerogel insulation and upgrading to energy-efficient appliances
- built a little off-grid solar system that provides lighting and mobile phone charging and power for my Internet servers consolidated onto a single Raspberry Pi that postpones work until the sun shines
- toyed with wind power (turbines) and found that wind doesn't really work for most of us urbanites
- built a compost heap or three and we grow a tiny amount of veg in our postage-stamp garden...
Things That You Can Do
Effective changes that can be made at home are based on lowering energy/resource demand...
- Saving electricity (and gas) in all sorts of ways, including,
- Lighting: low-energy light bulbs (eg CFL / compact fluorescent and LED preferably at 60 lumens per Watt (60lm/W) efficiency or better). If rewiring, then look at 12V light circuits connecting to PV/battery systems.
- High-efficiency white goods (eg fridges) and other electrical goods at home and at work. Look at energy consumption in use, eg per wash or while on, and in 'standby' mode if you won't be turning them off at the wall. Choose an energy supplier that provides 'green' energy and supports renewables.
- For cooking: investigate CO2 savings with induction cookers and microwave ovens.
- Clothes washing: alternate ideas with drying (eg on a line), and low-temperature (cold/30°C/40°C) washing and do full loads. Also, simple changes in habits and textiles (wool is brilliant compared to cotton for whole-life costing as well as washing/drying/ironing). Re-use fashions!
- Low water-use toilets, showers.
- Insulation and thermal capacity (over-cladding buildings).
- Close curtains at dusk to retain heat (and on hot sunny days to keep the sun/heat out).
- Turn down your heating thermostat 1°C for up to 10% saving. 18°C to 21°C is about right during the day (and hypothermia is only really a risk when temperatures at home are as low as 5°C, but spending more than two hours at 12°C raises blood pressure), and nearer 14°C at night when sleeping. Only heat rooms that you are using. Use a timer (or something smarter) to avoid heating when no one is home! Wearing the right clothing helps keep you comfortable at lower temperatures.
- Don't have your hot water thermostat set higher than 60°C/140°F, and 'instant' water heaters avoid losses from a tank for new systems.
- Don't leave gadgets and appliances on standby/charging, turn them off (maybe with a smart power-strip or trailing adapter) or unplug them. You might trim as much as 30% off your electricity bill.
- Check your mains electricity use at home with tools such as the Kill-a-Watt meter, or just read your supply meter daily or weekly. Gas too.
- Minimise the electricity you use at times of peak grid load (eg 4pm to 9pm in the autumn/winter in the UK) since more carbon-intensive and expensive fuels may be burnt in 'peaking' plants, and the grid is under most strain too. Intensity at peak time circa 2009 was ~0.6kgCO2/kWh, as much as 50% over typical levels.
- On the flip-side, make good use of energy when it's abundant such as saving up computing work until the sun is shining for low-carbon results.
- Reduce, re-use, recycle.
- See some thoughtful tips at MoneySavingExpert.com.