As concerns about the health of the planet rise, more people are looking for ways to reduce their impact on the Earth through reducing their energy consumption. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, and the best place to start is in your home.
Home appliances require energy sources
Running the appliances in your home requires the use of energy – and the use of certain types of energy, like gas and coal, can have a big impact on the environment. This is because fuel sources like gas and coal emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as they are burned. And carbon dioxide is the main concern when it comes to managing man-made climate change and keeping the atmosphere clean.
Solar power has become popular over the last decade, and with good reason. The upfront costs for installation may be higher, however, using solar energy is a decent long-term strategy to save money and reduce your CO2 impact on the atmosphere.
There is one caveat many people are unaware of when it comes to solar power. Although solar panels do not emit CO2, their production process creates a good amount of CO2.
When solar isn’t an option
For those who don’t have access to solar power, there are three main sources of energy to choose from: electric, natural gas, and propane.
Electric energy is easier to maintain than gas, but can be more expensive. And like gas, electric energy generation emits CO2 into the atmosphere. It seems that no matter what source of energy you choose, you cannot escape producing CO2.
Natural gas is more affordable and because it’s delivered through an underground pipeline, it’s more dependable in adverse weather and storms. Also, natural gas has the lowest output of CO2 when burned.
Propane is not generally supplied by a power company, and requires homeowners to purchase or rent a tank that is stationed somewhere on the property. Although the homeowner is responsible for refilling the tank, the cost can be significantly less than natural gas. And propane comes in second next to natural gas for having the lowest CO2 emissions.
Although natural gas and propane are more affordable solutions to power your appliances, there is a significant drawback: the amount of energy it takes to keep a pilot light going.
Pilot lights waste energy
One of the largest sources of wasted energy in the home comes from pilot lights. A pilot light is a tiny gas burner with a flame that burns continuously in order to light other, larger burners when necessary. Pilot lights can be part of many standard gas-powered appliances such as stoves, washers, dryers, water heaters, and even refrigerators.
If your home is powered by natural gas or propane, you may have multiple pilot lights. And, if you have multiple pilot lights, you’re probably paying a good amount of money (and wasting energy) just to keep them going when not in use.
The real cost of pilot lights
If you’re able to access your gas meter, you may want to do the math to see how much your pilot lights are costing you. As many people are discovering, it can cost $170/year or more just to run two pilot lights. And if you’ve got a home full of gas-powered appliances, you may be paying a pretty penny just to keep those pilot lights going.
There is another, more permanent cost to having multiple pilot lights in your home—the environment. For every pilot light that remains lit, you’re producing CO2 as it burns, which adversely affects the environment 24 hours a day. Having a few pilot lights in your home may not seem significant, but if you think about how many other people on the planet are burning multiple pilot lights, it adds up quickly.
Pilot lights aren’t always necessary
While a home powered by natural gas is more eco-friendly than a home powered by coal and oil, it’s possible to take your energy saving efforts a step further by eliminating some of your pilot lights. Turning off your heater’s pilot light in the summer, disabling the two back burners on your stove, and installing a tankless, or on-demand water heater are three simple ways you can accomplish this. An on-demand water heater uses far less energy than a standard water heater because the pilot light and additional burners are only lit when you engage the hot water.
In addition to using less energy, an on-demand water heater is much easier to maintain since its parts are mostly replaceable. In contrast, when a traditional water heater malfunctions, the entire unit usually needs to be replaced.
Living off the grid can save the planet (eventually)
If you live off the grid, you probably use propane to power some of your appliances. By being self-sufficient, you’re telling the power companies that there is a demand for more responsible energy sources, and if enough people stop using their sources of energy, they will be more likely to offer more renewable energy sources in the future.
Saving energy saves the planet
The bigger picture is that saving the planet starts with saving energy at home. Our individual choices may not seem like they make an impact, but collectively they do.
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!