Energy efficiency now has a significant influence in how both homeowners and businesses think. It stretches way past the use of energy efficient lighting, with the opportunity to seriously reduce energy bills and help limit the burden of harmful pollutants on the environment.
There are many opportunities out there to consider and loads of great reasons to become more eco-friendly. As such, KES Lighting has spoken to some of the biggest influencers in the eco-friendly space to get their views and opinions on the changing face on environmental protection.
Eating a plant strong diet - Decreasing your meat, dairy and egg consumption isn't just better for your health, it's better for the environment too! The amount of water, grain and land used in factory farming is depleting the earth of it's resources at an alarming rate while also producing more pollutants than all word transportation combined. Eat more veggies!
Plant a garden - Growing your own herbs, vegetables and fruit not only saves money but also saves on the gas it takes to ship produce to your local grocer. Plus, you are helping clean the air in your neighborhood and if you have an indoor garden, the air in your own home!
Compost - Instead of tossing out food, rinds, etc, composting organic material breaks down and is able to be used as fertilizer instead of wasting space in a landfill. Give your food a second life!
I once asked my readers to exchange one incandescent bulb with an eco-friendly CFL or LED. They balked, claiming CFLs contained mercury, LEDs didn't provide appealing atmospheric light, and both bulbs were extremely expensive. How things have changed since that time.
The lighting industry stepped up and created safe, affordable, long-lasting, energy-efficient products in a multitude of designs to meet every preference. They also improved LED products, expanding from purely directional lighting to very comfortable omni-directional lighting, appropriate for every room in the house.
Home lighting, however, is just one small aspect of the industry. It isn't unusual to see LED flashlights, automotive and landscape lighting, commercial applications, and even traffic lights; all sporting eco-friendly bulbs. Illumination, of every kind, has gone green.
I believe that the lighting industry will continue to be a leader in developing green technology - Technology that will be accessible and affordable to everyone.
"Waste-free living is exploding right now. My book and blog, Zero Waste Home, have launched a global movement that is rapidly growing: Thousands of people throughout the world have adopted the lifestyle and hundreds of blogs have emerged because of my own.
Every week I receive letters from entrepreneurs all over the world who have been inspired to open Zero Waste stores (Australia, Quebec, Switzerland, Belgium, France, etc.), including Germany's first unpackaged grocery store. Large existing chains are noticing people's interest for bulk, and are increasing their selection.
Leading manufacturers of home goods are noticing the growing trend for waste-free living and consult me to get my input on their products. The interest from the media is incessant (more than 40 TV crews have come through our house!) and I am invited to speak about my lifestyle all over the world. I could not be more excited (and proud!) about the success that the Zero Waste lifestyle is experiencing!
As more and more people become conscious about how energy conservation and renewable energy are both frugal and patriotic choices, I think household demand for solar panels, electric vehicles, energy efficient appliances and LED light bulbs will grow enormously, especially if local and national governments incentivise them with tax credits, rebates, and subsidies.
Although energy conservation measures such as insulating your home, weatherstripping windows and doors and replacing old, inefficient windows are far less sexy, they are arguably just as important to reducing our utility bills and our national carbon footprint. If we are to meet national carbon emission reduction targets, governments should consider incentivising these measures too, in addition to providing support for solar panels and the like.
The easiest and most cost effective things a person can do to reduce their electricity bills right now is to:
The great news is that eco-friendly living is no longer seen as a trend, but as a natural thing to incorporate into all of our lifestyle decisions, from what we purchase and use, to what we forgo and do without. Some people are still a bit resistant due to price or lack of incentive, but the truth is that if you are truly living sustainably you will save money!
I do believe we should celebrate the small changes and lighting is one of the easiest eco-upgrades we can make in our homes. Eco-friendly lighting will save money on your energy bills and even reduce the amount of light bulb replacements you will need to buy!
Progress on energy efficiency in the home has largely come from manufacturers as they compete to create the most energy-efficient products, often saving on consumer running costs in the process. Nudges from local councils and NGOs has made home recycling very much the norm, but I think the future must see a shift to using less, rather than just recycling, in order to be truly more sustainable.
Consumers have shown they can change their habits, especially if it means saving money, but its technology that will make the most gains in sustainability moving forward. Technology allows us to live more sustainably without making significant lifestyle changes, but with this is the danger of becoming complacent by relying too much on others rather than taking responsibility for our own consumption.
For those wanting to live an eco-friendly lifestyle at home, it’s important to do your research and get clued up on the impacts of your decisions. This would include things like thinking about the amount of chemicals you wash down the drain and what happens when they end up in the environment, or whether the timber for your new dining table has come from a sustainable source. Know when you actually need to buy something new and when you can avoid this by making use of something second-hand (thus detracting from landfill).
In general, it could be worth investing in brand new energy efficient lighting or a low-energy refrigerator, but if you’re looking for new shelving or tableware, second-hand is not just more sustainable but also cheaper.
Eco-efficiency is not new and in truth has partly been adopted. But the opportunities to save money (and energy, water, waste, etc.) are still vast. Sometimes it is lack of awareness of the technologies and easy wins out there. Often it's just inertia in a large system (and big companies are large systems). And other times it's just competition for capital.
Even if something looks like it will pay back, putting money into say, lighting, isn't as 'sexy' as new marketing or product development. Smart companies with good solutions are fighting all of these battles now and winning.
From the perspective of why we as consumers don't do some of the eco-friendly things we can, the answers are similar - inertia, available capital to invest (at times), etc. But also there's a lingering sense in the market that 'green' products, well, suck. And early on they were often not as effective and more expensive. That's just not true in so many cases now. A Tesla is a powerful sports car. Recycled paper doesn't jam in printers (and hasn't for many years). And so on.
There have been books for years on the 'simple' things you can do to 'save the earth'. There's an endless list, but I suggest focusing on the areas of biggest impact: what and how often you drive, how big your house is or how efficient it is, your appliances, how much meat you eat, and how much water you use.
Many things are easy - how hard is it really to reduce meat eating somewhat, or change light bulbs? But some choices are larger lifestyle changes and there's no way around that at times.
When we look at the slow progress on our cultural migration towards a more sustainable society, a certain amount of the onus can be put on normal consumers. In many cases, adoption, let along advocacy, has been minimal and at times it begs the question of whether or not the majority of people are listening. At the same time, the message of the problem along with possible solutions could be told better.
Sustainability is not figuring out ways to supplement wasteful lifestyle, but instead a lifestyle of balance that interacts with the biosphere in ways that achieve a dynamic equilibrium. That balance can't come from technology alone. It needs the evolution of cultural norms to complement technological advances.
The most dangerous message that we can be sending to the public is that purchasing technology will cure all of the negative effects that our lifestyles have on the natural environment.
Real progress will be the result of new efficiencies that can serve as a catalyst to the changes of cultural norms that will yield far greater results. Advances in lighting technology should be paired with architecture that is centred more around harvesting natural daylight. More efficient cars should be a supplement to town planning that promotes walkability and pedestrian focus.
Recycling programs need to be bolstered by commitments to integrate recycled materials and consumers that will purchase recycled products. We are at the point where technology can open doors, but those new paths should be viewed as spring boards to cultural changes rather than endgames that relieve concern or diffuse severity. Any chance at achieving a truly sustainable culture will hinge on changes that redefine the culture we know.
According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, current means of meeting national energy needs are having a significant impact on the environment, producing harmful pollution and negatively impacting climate change. It is vital that we find alternative cleaner methods to produce energy in addition to finding more efficient means to use energy in order to reduce our demand on finite non-renewable resources.
With the development of more advanced green technologies, including solar and wind electricity production, it will be possible to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. According to the DUKES (Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics), the majority of UK energy needs are still met by fossil fuels. Eco friendly technology may well be the future of green living and could pave the way for sustainable energy production for future generations.
The free market together with government advancements seem to be working together to move green technologies forward. This could pave the way for more sustainable energy production and a cleaner, safer environment for future generationsGo to home