We all use energy. And every watt we use effects the climate. So, let’s reduce our needs and find natural solutions. This is the beginning of a new era – a time to brush up on basic physics. Here are some tips to stop your losses and get energy savvy.
Beyond Bill Shock
Right now, massive watts of power are being blasted across territories in acts of war. In other areas people are starving from lack of fuels to transport foods. In some places people are dying from heat exhaustion and others are dying from the cold. Climate change and rising cost of fossil fuel will favour the leaders of an energy revolution.
Energy is used to satisfy our basic needs of health, nourishment, comfort, safety and security. And it also contributes to our social needs to be connected, contribute to the economy, find education and enjoy entertainment.
Our tutorial shows ways to reduce our energy needs and find natural solutions.
Boosting Cost of Nutrition
Agriculture uses energy in the planting, watering, fertilizing and harvesting of food plants. Then for washing, cooking, storage or preservation, shipping, marketing and packaging of foods. Some foods such as hydroponically grown, out-of-season delicacies from across the globe are highly energy intensive. Whereas, locally grown, imperfect, common foods can be grown with little money. This is how most people in poor countries survive. They grow their own food. And home-grown, organic foods are fresher giving higher nutritional content, so there is a greater value for each watt spent.
There are also some low-cost food production systems that boost production. These include companion planting, gravity-fed irrigation systems, food forestry and the use of perennials. Perennial plants include the starchy banana called plantain, yams, (nuts) acorns and perennial beans.
Working with nature and learning from the elders
Gravity fed, irrigation systems have been used for thousands of years in both the northern and southern hemispheres. And over the thousands of years of seed saving humans have been able to select plant varieties that can be eaten raw. Sometimes the raw foods are more nutritious.
Natural cooking options
But often foods become more nutritious when they are warmed, soaked, blended or fermented. To reduce our energy use when cooking there are many different alternative technologies now including these solar cookers and rocket stoves.
Also drying foods, making ferments, pickling, making jam or brewing foods all require some energy. The reason why we do this is not just to be able to preserve the food but it can increase the nutritional value of the food. Or make it more palatable. It also allows us to transport goods to the other side of the world. We can use these foods any time of the year.
Most food is dried. Drying foods requires heat but the common alternative is not the healthiest it usually uses sugar. In fact, sugar is the biggest food commodity worldwide. It is both a food and a preservative. Yet, few people in the western world have ever tasted fresh sugarcane. And diabetes thrives with sugary diets. Sugar is commonly added to foods such as tomato sauce, baby foods and breakfast cereals. When we eat nutrition rather than for convenience, we are helping the environment by reducing costs in cheap agricultural practices, long distance transportation of food and medicine.
Adding sugar is a quick and easy way to preserve food. The next easy way is pickling with alcohol or vinegars. Beyond this, there are ferments like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt and kefir. These ferments increase the nutritional availability of foods and supply good gut bacteria. And they aren’t hard to make once you learn how.
Clean and Well
Hygiene uses energy. Bathing, showering, saunas and scrubs are better with warm water. Because warm water allows the soap and the oils in our skin to dissolve more easily. In the western world tap water is delivered by pumps with a complex set of filter systems. Another need health includes the manufacture of medicines. Some vital medicinal procedures like x-rays and MRIs require a lot of power. So, instead of burning our last remaining fossil fuels or using nuclear power – we need to keep these reserves for high value services.
What a home really needs
A lot of effort is used to create shelter. We clear the land, we dig foundations, we build the structure and then we maintain it. Many people focus on the creation, few focus on running costs and fewer care about maintenance. Maintenance work rarely gets recognition. It is the unspoken, boring work on a home. Yet it is the most vital act to reduce costs, extend usefulness and reduce the environmental burden.
There are ways to reduce the need for maintenance. Well built homes with good design, durable materials last longer. And smaller homes require less maintenance.
This mansion was built 800 years ago. It is strong and it’s built without any nails. The reason why it has survived is because it’s the pride of place of the village. Not only is it durable but it’s loved.
Efforts for Lasting Security
There are two ways to reduce the need for security. One option is to not own much worth stealing. And the other is to work to build an equitable society. The most effective way to achieve this is to help people out of poverty and give them hope. Education (especially for women) doubles a societies capacity for innovation, increases skills and reduces over population.
We need some external energy to communicate, to get around, to learn stuff, to entertain one another, to work and to trade. Crowded venues do not need electronic amplification they do need to be designed well for good acoustics. There have been some inventions to reduce transport costs.
What do we use for information these days? The internet uses a lot of electronic energy – if you have a website you can pay as we do to have it run on solar power.
In order to meet our basic needs of food, water and shelter we have to work. And while we can most of us work a little extra to support those who cannot work.
Many of the ideas that apply to our individual costs also can apply to our workplaces. The trade of goods and services is usually conducted through money.
Money is a form of energy exchange. Although it is a common means of exchange – there are many other ways to support the work of others.
What are your energy uses? Have a quick look at your energy bills and think of one way to reduce the costs. Then check back again a year later.