|David JC MacKay's|
If you plan on becoming more environmentally friendly to your planet, consider analyzing what parts of your lifestyle generates the most CO2. Many people seem content and feel good about themselves when they swapped out their light bulbs for energy saving ones, not realizing that this is indeed a drop in the ocean compared to what they could save by changing other parts of their lives. CO2 emissions is naturally linked to energy use in general, although some are more polluting than others. I will look at one example of this.
To the right I have "borrowed" a drawing from the book "Sustainable Energy without the hot air" by David JC MacKay, a great book about the subject you can read for free by clicking the title link there. Instead of trying to figure this out for yourself you might as well take a look at some of the analysis that has been done on average consumption, in this case David has used the typical UK consumer. The impact on CO2 emissions will naturally shift considerably for yourself based on your lifestyle and in what country you live in. For example in Norway, CO2 emissions from lights and heating is quite low since we get most of our electricity from hydro. If you live in a country with coal and gas plants for electricity, then the energy use David shows here is has a CO2 equivalent to care about. Generally, any direct fossil fuel consumption that can be moved to electrical power is a good move for the future as we go into using more renewable energy sources. If you heat your home from electrical panels you really should consider installing a heat exchanger as that is a more energy efficient way of heating.
There is one thing our western lifestyle has come to enjoy, but cannot be shifted to electrical power easily, and that is flights. Davids flight sample here is one round trip to a faraway destination (like Egypt from UK), and as you see that one holiday trip is consuming almost more than all of his driving for a whole year (the car energy use is based on 50 km driving per day for a normal petrol car). So to get back to my "inner loop" case, if you travel a lot by airplane, then there is your "loop" you need to cut down on. Airplane manufacturers like to brag about how efficient they have become in fuel conserving (and hence CO2 emissions), but they are really just tiny optimizations in the 10% range. The only way to really cut down emissions is by flying less, or travel by train or boat instead. You know, its possible to figure out quite a lot by borrowing a book on Egypt in the library, or just type "egypt" in google search. After a day of reading you will most likely be more educated about that country than actually travelling and spending a week there. But I perfectly understand that you wont feel the heat or "emotions" you might get from sitting on top of a pyramid. Neither will you feel good about yourself as you brag to your friends on Facebook with a photo of yourself on the pyramids (btw you can easily make those shots with some Photoshop skills). The question I ask: Is that feeling more important than the future of your children on our planet? You really need to cut down on air travel to have any real effect on your carbon footprint on our planet.
|Nissan Leaf - A modern electrical car|
|McToys - Example of wasted energy|
To sum it all up, there are many ways to conserve energy, but most likely the most important "inner loop" one with most effect on CO2 emission is to fly less. If you are down to one flight a year, then you can consider switching to an electrical car, install a heat exchanger, insulate your home or even just paint that old shelf in another color instead of buying a new one.