Different Methods for Generating Electricity

We are all used to just having electricity available in our homes, and at the flick of a switch, we have power coursing through the house.  But have you ever thought about where this energy comes from?  Here’s a handy guide to where our electricity is created!

Firstly, here in the UK we use a number of different sources for our energy production. There are 4 main areas our electricity comes from.

Fossil Fuels:  These are where most of our electricity comes from.  Burning fossil fuels like natural gas, coal and some oil generates electricity in power stations.  The amount generated by the powerstations changes every year, with some power stations switching fuels depening on the cost of fuel.

 

 

Heating Water By Solar Energy – Not So Revolutionary

The sight of the early spring sun does make us all pretty joyous about the imminent arrival of summer – lots of gorgeous hot days, no need to use the gas or electric heating for several weeks now until autumn.  We can relax outside to get the benefit of the rays.  Even been known to put washing outside on really good days!  The money that is saved in not switching on heaters, druying units, tumble dryers etc., unbelievable.

This reminds me of a couple of trips to Cyprus to stay with pals.  Their villa is in a tiny village well off the beaten track.  It’s not the easiest place to get to and until only a few years ago, electricity was pretty patchy in supply.  However, my chums were able to rig up solar panels to heat their hot water supply – all rudimentary but all the village houses had means of heating their water and had been doing so for years.

Learning To Utilise Sun And Mother Nature

Recently I had the joy of some of my brood of grand children visiting.  They live quite some way away so these get togethers are not as frequent as we would all like.  What was also very good was their mum being able to stay along with them for a change instea of having to work that week.

One of the best days was spent at a local college, they had a holiday club aimed at teaching their young charges how to manage their use of electricity and utilities.  There were hands on exhibits set up with working models of everything usually found in the modern family house.  We were amazed at how much could be saved if we only thought ahead.  We had the chance to do laundry the old fashioned way with tub and washing dolly and mangles and much experimenting was enjoyed whilst we learned the most efficient ways to achieve the same ends!

Sunny Drying Instead Of Tumble Drying

There must be hundreds of times in a day when a person thinks to themselves, “I must use less power, this house is costing me a fortune”.  Then we go about looking for the little things to turn off and save a few pence here and there.  That light that burns in the day time that doesn’t really need to be on.  The washing machine on for only half a load because someone wants something in it sooner.  The tumble drier that is used for nearly all the wash loads, instead of  using the fresh air outside.  This reminds me of staying with relatives in Texas, I asked why the family did not put their washing out in all that glorious natural sunshine.  The looks on the faces of the ladies I sat with could have killed!  It is considerd highly unsociable to hang any washing outside there.  What a pity, in a country that already uses up so much of our precious resource!

 

Different Ways To Use Less Electricity In The Home

 

  • Use ceiling fans instead of air conditioning or AC – probably  a good tip for the UK where it’s rarely warm enough to need AC, but if you do have it, AC uses a huge amount more electricity than simple fans!
  • Replace leaky windows – Make sure you have at least double glazed windows (you can even get triple glazed now!) to save heat in winter and keep cooler in summer
  • Insulate walls and attics – cavity wall insulation is a great idea for all homes, and the thickest attic insulation will prevent your home from losing heat
  • Check the energy rating of your appliances – all appliances for the home are rated in stars now, so check your appliances are A* rated for the best efficiency!  Important for those you use regularly like cookers, dishwashers and washing machines.

 

Different Thoughts On Fuelling Domestic Life

Nuclear: Around 20% of our electricity is generated by nuclear reactors, where uranium atoms are split to create heat (known as nuclear fission).  The nuclear power stations we have in the UK are due to be closed and several companies have plans for a new generation of reactors to be built from 2018 onwards.

Renewables: Renewable energy creation through wind farms, solar farms and wave power make up around 25% of our electricity.  The EU have set targets of around 30% of electricity to be created through renewable sources by 2020.

Import: finally, we are connected to systems in France, the Netherlands and Ireland through interconnector cables.  This allows us to import and export electricty when economical.  Around 6% electricity was imported into the UK last year.

What Are The Energy Performance Certificates for Homes?

The EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings came into effect progressively from 2007 and is an important part of government strategies for tackling climate change. The principle underlying the Directive is to make energy use in buildings transparent by the issuing of a certificate showing the energy rating of a property, accompanied by recommendations on how to improve efficiency. This energy performance certificate (EPC) must be provided whenever a property is constructed, rented out or sold. The EPC shows the energy efficiency rating (relating to running costs) of a dwelling. The rating is shown on an A–G rating scale similar to those used for refrigerators and other electrical appliances.

When the construction of a new building is completed, the builder or person responsible for the construction is responsible for obtaining the certificate and providing it to the owner. This is a duty under Building Regulations. This will also apply if a building is converted into fewer or more units and there are changes to the heating, hot water provision or air conditioning/ ventilation services.

Domestic properties require an EPC on construction and some commercial buildings will require an EPC on construction or conversion.

Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is leading the introduction of a number of energy and cost savings measures to make all buildings more efficient. The measures are being applied across all European Union countries and are in line with the European Directive for the Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD) (recast).

Building an Energy Efficient House

Before making upgrades, you may also want to work with an energy auditor to use the Home Energy Score, which provides a rating of your home’s current efficiency, as well as a list of improvements and potential savings.
Ultra-Efficient Homes
Ultra-efficient homes combine state-of-the-art energy-efficient construction, appliances, and lighting with commercially available renewable energy systems, such as solar water heating and solar electricity. By taking advantage of local climate and site conditions, designers can often also incorporate passive solar heating and cooling and energy-efficient landscaping strategies. The intent is to reduce home energy use as cost-effectively as possible, and then meet the reduced load with on-site renewable energy systems.
Advanced House Framing
If you’re building a new house or adding on to an existing one, consider using advanced house framing (also known as optimum value engineering), which reduces lumber use and waste and improves energy efficiency in a wood-framed house.
Cool Roofs
Cool roofs use highly reflective materials to reflect more light and absorb less heat from sunlight, which keeps homes cooler during hot weather.
Passive Solar Home Design
Passive solar home design takes advantage of climatic and site conditions to provide heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.

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