Energy is necessary for us to be able to do most of what we need to do every day. The ways of generating energy in the recent past have all centered on burning something. We burn coal in power stations to turn huge steam turbines which drive generators that deliver electricity. This process uses predominantly unrenewable resources such as coal and oil. These resources have taken millions of years to form and the supply will end in the near future.

We need other ways to generate energy and more than that, ways to conserve energy.

Energy conservation is not the same as Conservation of Energy which is a principal of physics.

Energy conservation is about decreasing the amount of energy used. Our focus is to try to exist, doing what we need to do, but using less energy to do it, with the same quality of desired outcome.

If we can conserve energy, we reduce the need for building more power stations, both coal fire and nuclear, and we reduce the carbon dioxide emissions and requirement for storing spent nuclear fuel.


One way to do this is to heat our water with solar energy. Solar water heaters have become compulsory on all new buildings in progressive countries. Solar heaters operate by collecting heat in a collector panel and transferring this heat to water that is stored in a storage tank for later use. The method by which the heat is transferred from the storage tank to the water determines whether the solar system is a direct or indirect system. In an average household, there can be a saving of 40% or more in the energy requirement if solar energy is used. A one square meter solar water heater can collect approximately 1000 kW h of energy per annum. So a two square meter array in Johannesburg could save 2000 kW h per annum. This doesn't sound like much of a saving until you consider that by generating this amount of clean energy, you are saving 1000kg of coal, 2600 litres of water, and reducing emissions of 1800kg of CO2, 284kg of ash, 17kg of SO2, and 8kg NO2. And the best part is that Eskom offers a small subsidy towards the cost of installing a solar panel if you work through an approved dealer.


Wind power is another alternative source of energy. Windchargers suitable for use at home generate small amounts of power sufficient to charge batteries and run low power lighting systems. It is also possible to run a TV off the batteries if an inverter is used.



Biogas is able to provide gas for cooking and heating from waste products such as pig manure. It's a messy process but can be very successful. It's not really suitable for your city home but can work well on a farm. More ...





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