This means changing some habits, supporting environmental businesses and charities, and investing in eco-friendly solutions for the home. With that in mind, here are some of the most promising tech ideas that could help reduce the environmental impact of your home:
Saving energy Solar glass
One of the latest innovations in the renewable energy market is solar glass. These work very much the same as solar panels – turning solar energy into electrical energy. However, solar glass is transparent, making it possible to turn every window into a source of free, renewable energy.
While solar glass is less efficient than panels, due to letting light pass through, the teams working on solar glass expects to reach 15% efficiency very soon. While that may sound low, when you consider how many millions of square metres of window glass there is in the UK, that 15% becomes very significant. Perhaps significant enough to generate all our energy needs.
Renewable energy is great, but it needs to be balanced with energy reduction; otherwise, it will never be able to catch up with the current growth in energy use.
One area where a lot of energy could be saved is in lighting. We’ve all left a light on by mistake or simply because it was more convenient. Yet, all those hours of unnecessary lighting add up.
An effective way to combat unnecessary lighting is to install smart switches. These light switches utilise a combination of automation features, such as programmable timers and motion sensors, to switch lights off when not in use. The result is less energy being wasted and lower electricity bills – a win-win.
Saving energy is about more than electricity, however. Energy is also used to heat our homes and water for washing. Allowing that heat energy to escape contributes to global warming and is incredibly wasteful.
Yet, aside from upgrading your home’s insulation and installing double-glazed windows, it is hard to know how to stop all that heat from escaping.
Recapturing shower heat
As anyone with a smart metre will tell you, electric showers are one of the biggest contributors to household energy bills. They use a large amount of energy to heat fresh water, which then disappears down the drain rapidly. You can literally stand there and watch the energy being wasted.
Yet, electric showers have become a modern convenience that many of us couldn’t imagine life without. Who wants to go back to waiting for your boiler to heat an entire tank of water just to get two or three showers out of it?
The good news is, there are solutions in the form of shower-heat exchange pipes. These pipes are fitted in the floor underneath or the wall behind the shower unit and facilitate heat exchange between warm wastewater and incoming cold, fresh water. This effectively pre-heats your shower water, reducing the amount of energy needed to heat the water.
The most effective of these heat-exchange devices can reduce energy use by up to 67% – which means two in every three showers is free and requires zero energy use.
While we’re on the topic of showers, there are a few ways to reduce the amount of water your home uses. Given that fresh drinking water is rapidly running out, water efficiency is just as important as energy and heat conservation.
One way to reduce the amount of water you use is to make your shower more efficient. A number of solutions have been developed, which can reduce the water required for a shower by up to 65% through the clever use of water. Water flowing through the showerhead can be restricted, for example, meaning less water used per shower.
If you don’t want to compromise on the quality of your shower, you may opt for a shower that atomises water, making it go further without sacrificing the quality of the shower – the same fresh feeling, yet a third of the water used.
With these solutions installed, the average household could save up to 12,000 gallons of water every year. And with over 27 million households in the UK alone, these solutions could save billions of gallons of water a year.
Along with showers, washing machines are the biggest users of water, heat, and energy. While newer high-efficiency washers are now everywhere, they still use 15 to 30 gallons of water per load. The average household does about two loads per week, totalling 30 to 40 gallons of water, or around 800 million to one billion gallons a week across the whole of the UK.
New solutions have taken inspiration from the days before washing machines. These low-tech solutions use manpower to spin the drum and use just three gallons of water per wash. Unlike buckets, washboards and ringers, however, these new manual washers come with modern conveniences, such as wastewater disposal, making for an easier clean.
It’s easy to get sucked into all the doom and gloom, feeling like there is no way to stop runaway climate change. Hopefully, however, these solutions will give a reason for some optimism regarding the future. As individuals, we can still make a noticeable difference. And by buying these environmental solutions for your home, you’ll be supporting businesses seeking to find alternatives.
What’s more, by saving energy, heat and water in your home, you’ll also be saving a lot of money.