Saving the world starts at home
Niti Manchanda can't stand the dusty summer heat. She needs her air conditioner always on and always in the 'chill' mode. "My friends once said that I should live in a refrigerator," she says. She didn't even care when her monthly electricity bill touched the Rs 6000 level. Niti lives in swanky condominium that have 100% power back up so the need to 'switch off' was never felt.
But something stirred when Niti's four year old daughter came back from school one day and declared that she was a careless mother. "My teacher tells me that we have to be careful about using electricity because when we make electricity 'dirty things' come into the air we breath and that can make me sick." Little Natasha started switching off the lights and fans in her house. "I was actually ashamed," says Niti. "Natasha's simple statement about putting 'dirty things' in the air made me feel like I was personally shoveling pollution into the air."
For Niti, the 'awakening' came in the shape of her daughter and she started to make a sincere effort to saving power. But do we actually need a child to tell us that if we don't do something now global warming and pollution will only get worse?
James Hansen, one of the first scientists to sound the alarm about global warming way back in the 80's, recently said that the real key to preventing climate change is reducing home energy use.
How we can make a difference
There are some simple things that we can do in our daily lives that can contribute to conserving energy. Switching off the light and fans when we leave a room hardly requires any effort on our part except the effort to remember. The most obvious energy saving can happen by using ceiling fans instead of air conditioners whenever possible. However when using air-conditioning becomes necessary each degree set above 22°C will use 5% less energy.
One particular energy wastage that can be truly prevented is "vampire power" - the energy that some appliances continue to use, even when they are turned off. Some serious power suckers include appliances like microwaves with clocks or other display screens that constantly need power; devices that are in stand-by mode all the time, like televisions; chargers used for cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices that supply a charge, even when nothing is plugged into them. Turning these not-in-use items can cut down your electricity usage by about 5%.
Home improvement tips
- Turn your refrigerator thermostate down. Refrigerators account for about 20% of household electricity use.
- Set your clothes washer to the warm or cold water setting, not hot.
- Select the most energy-efficient models when you replace your old appliances. Look for the Energy Star Labeled products.
- Clean or replace air filters in air conditioners as recommended. Energy is lost when air conditioners have to work harder to draw air through dirty filters. Cleaning a dirty air conditioner filter can save 5% of the energy used.
- Enable the "sleep mode" feature on your computer, allowing it to use less power when not in use.
- When using an oven don't preheat or "peek" inside more than necessary. Check the seal on the oven door, and use a microwave oven for cooking or reheating small items.
- Start now and don't wait for someone to tell you that you don't care. Reducing power consumption at home not just makes you an intelligent citizen, it also rewards you will reduced electric bills. And all you need to invest is a little bit of conscience.