In previous articles, we have focused on the production of renewable energies and on systems, which have the potential to provide future reliable renewable energy supplies. Although, we have provided a solution for conserving energy in industrial areas, 27% of total energy consumption occurs in households. Substantial energy consumption in households provides significant opportunity for continued energy reduction initiatives. To ensure a low CO2-emission future, we must promote energy reduction measures that focus on households. These initiatives should be applied to new and old buildings and to every flat.
Let us categorize the initiatives into three areas of focus:
1. Newer buildings
2. Older buildings
Energy balance in new buildings:
In the last few years, several projects for zero energy and plus energy buildings have been completed. The results of these projects can now be utilized to inform the construction of new buildings. Following these guidelines, new buildings can be constructed that do not require external energy supplies.
Energy consumption in older buildings:
The renovation of older buildings allows for improvements in energy consumption that are comparable to zero energy buildings. In “Focus-online,” an article discusses the 10 steps necessary to develop a zero or a low energy building. These steps are:
- 1. Install high-quality roof insulation
- 2. Insulate outer walls avoiding gaps
- 3. Exchange windows and doors
- 4. Insulate basement walls and ceiling
- 5. Use energy-efficient household equipment
- 6. Install thermal solar devices as a heating system
- 7. Install air exchange system with heat recuperation
- 8. Install a Photovoltaic system
- 9. Install a long-term heat accumulator for your thermal solar heating system
- 10. Install an electronic control system to ensure the most efficient heat use.
Energy savings in flats
By focusing on new buildings and the general renovation of older buildings, we address the most significant mechanism for reducing energy consumption. However, individuals can implement small changes to save energy daily. Several articles present a number of suggestions for saving energy at home through incorporating small changes, many being simple modifications in behavior. Listed here are some examples:
– Do not use electricity for heating needs
– Restrict heating to only those rooms which are presently occupied
– Use energy-efficient household appliances
– Close roller blinds in the evening
– Conduct an air exchange by opening windows short term
– Put aluminum foil behind heat exchangers on the wall
– Use dishwashers only if completely filled
– Air dry clothing after washing, and use the dryer only if necessary
These examples demonstrate how most individuals can save energy daily. A precondition for conserving energy is the right attitude and an understanding of the necessity of building a sustainable future.
We often underestimate the extent to which the above actions can have global impact. As previously mentioned, energy usage within households accounts for 27% of usage worldwide. Likewise, according to the article exploring energy politics in Germany, 23% of German energy is produced by nuclear power, while only 16% is produced by renewable energy. If Germany implements zero energy buildings from now until 2020, an additional power supply would not be necessary and nuclear energy could be eliminated without impact. Although such an expectation may seem high, substantial progress could be made if household energy consumption could drop by 30-50%. The problem of finding alternatives for nuclear energy would be a manageable one.
A rate of 27% energy usage in households also holds true in China. Instituting the aforementioned changes could result in possible energy savings within these households, thereby providing a simpler solution to China’s energy problems.
Household energy consumption is contributing significantly to worldwide energy problems, both short term and potentially in the future. Changing individual attitudes regarding energy consumption can solve many of these problems. Although this is not an easy task, it is the most cost-effective way to resolve our current energy crisis.
To ensure that the decreases in energy usage within households is sustainable, laws should be established that only allow the construction of zero energy buildings and promote the renovation of older buildings to meet zero energy building guidelines.
Worldwide education about the importance of energy conservation should be instituted. In the absence of systematic changes in the attitudes of individuals, the goal of reducing worldwide energy consumption cannot be achieved.