Most people watching the horror unfold for the civilian population in Ukraine feel helpless. Several energy technologies, however, have matured to the point that homeowners all over the world can actually help cripple Russia's ability to fund their military in the long term.
Russia is dependent on exporting fossil fuels - mostly oil and natural gas to Europe (US has banned Russian imports). Now, besides harming the environment, selling this oil and gas funds Russia's military and its current aggression. Nations of good will have tried to make Putin rethink the invasion of Ukraine by applying sanctions. These have hurt the Russian economy, but if one looks closely, they still largely allow Russia to export oil and gas. The oil is used for transport and the gas is used mostly for heating, but also used for electricity generation.
Natural gas and oil prices have increased, but they are global commodities. Thus, by reducing the use of oil and gas anywhere in the world, people help reduce demand, which reduces the price Russia can obtain for its gas and will help defund their military. Cutting fossil fuel use can also save you some money at home.
Here are three big things you can do at home:[edit | edit source]
- Install as many solar photovoltaic panels as you can afford. Over the last few years, solar photovoltaic costs have plummeted, and now these systems are the least expensive method of making electricity. Capital costs for solar energy can still be expensive up front. If you are a little handy and DIY it, you can easily cut the cost in half. To see exactly how get a free pdf of To Catch the Sun.
- Electrify your heating. You can finally get rid of natural gas for heating by moving to electricity. Using less-expensive solar powered heat pumps provide a technical solution that allows for elimination of natural gas use in most applications. This works in financially in both the northern US and Canada. It even is true if you use propane for heat.
- Buy an electric vehicle (EV). Most automakers now have electric options and some are even phasing out internal combustion engines completely. In general, the cost of ownership, including fuel and maintenance, is much less for EVs than gas guzzlers and even than relatively efficient gas-powered cars. The bottom line is the average EV will save you more than ten thousand dollars over its lifetime and even more than that if you use solar power to charge it.
Little Things You Can Do At Home[edit | edit source]
What if you don't have a lot of capital? You can also do some little things to chip away at the global fossil fuel market (If you have more ideas please add them to the list by clicking edit above):
- Ride a bike whenever you can - cut car use and tone your glutes.
- Use public transport if you have access to it instead of a car.
- Work from home if you can and cut out the commute - save fuel and time.
- Buy Energy star when you replace appliances. Energy Star is a U.S. government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.
- Use Power strips as a convenient way of eliminating phantom loads from modern gadget collections like computers.
- Install LEDs as they are currently the most efficient source of lighting - change your bulbs to cut down on energy use and pollution while saving money and time (they last far longer than normal bulbs so you don't need to change them as much). To see how much money your family could save by making the switch - check out this File:LED incan cfl worksheet2.ods.
- Increase house insulation is one of the most cost effective ways to reduce energy use in your house.
- Meatless Monday - Eating meat is surprisingly energy, water and land intensive. It can take seven or more pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef, and livestock consumes 70 percent of America’s grain. Eat less of it and choose pasture-fed, sustainably raised beef whenever you can. If you alone gave it up once every seven days, you would save the 840 gallons of fresh water it takes to produce a single serving. To make it easier to obtain a sustainable state try a baby step and give up meat on Mondays.
- Shorten showers - Long showers waste a lot of water, heat energy and your time - try limiting them to 4 minutes or if you really want to be hard core try a marine shower: turn water on only long enough to get wet, turn it off, soap up, and then rinse off and get out.
- Insulate pipes - the piping from conventional hot water heaters loses a lot of heat - cheap pipe insulation available in all hardware stores is a fun project to do with children to save money in your home.
- Caulk - to cut out the air leaks in your house and your heating and cooling bills with caulk. Caulk  and weather-strip  around all openings and cracks
- Turn off lights -- when not in the room to save energy and cut pollution.
- Computer sleep mode can help save energy that your computer wastes when you are not using it. See Energy-efficient PC/workstations for more information.
- Install free ad blockers -- cut energy use and get rid of annoying ads.
- Turn down heat. (in winter) This saves energy, pollution and money.
- Get a Programmable digital thermostat that allows you to ensure your home is comfortable when you are home - but allows you to set back the energy use when you are away (e.g. school or work during the week) or at night after you have gone to sleep. All of these setbacks allow you to save energy and save money while reducing pollution.
- Install Ceiling fans which use far less energy than air conditioners.
- Sweaters - throw one on and then turn down the heat in the winter.
- Hang clothes to dry. A clothesline or rack can be used to dry your clothes by the air. Your wardrobe will maintain color and fit, and you will save money.
- Turn off the AC whenever you can.
- Use Cold wash as it uses less energy and costs less.
- Plant trees as they are good for the air, the land, can shade your house and save on cooling (plant on the west side of your home), and they can also improve the value of your property. Do even better planting fruit trees. Worried about shading your rooftop solar cells? Use this:Simple and low-cost method of planning for tree growth and lifetime effects on solar photovoltaic systems performance
- Inflate tires - You can improve the fuel efficiency of your automobile simply by ensuring the tires are properly inflated. If car care facilities systematically offered complimentary tire pressure checks with oil changes we would enjoy : increased safety by decreasing all crashes and saving more than 100 lives, reduced petroleum consumption by over a billion gallons/year, which would provide ~$4 billion in economic savings for U.S. consumers, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13.5 million tons and automobile pollution and enhance national security.
References[edit | edit source]
- ↑ The spreadsheet is in ODS format - get your free copy of Libre Office to open it.
- ↑ http://smallplanet.org/books/diet-small-planet
- ↑ Joshua M. Pearce and Jason T. Hanlon, "Energy Conservation From Systematic Tire Pressure Regulation", Energy Policy, 35(4), pp. 2673-2677, 2007. open access