How keen is the average person to save the planet? Keen enough to do more physical labour and have a little less free time? The truth is that most people’s lives are made more efficient and more pleasant by labour-saving devices, but the same devices are killing the planet. Muscles must become the new planet-saving devices.
The planet could benefit by humankind winding back the clock and living as if labour-saving devices had never been invented. Of course, some of these energy efficiency savings are not practical ideas in some living circumstances.
Saving Energy with Clothes Dryers
The clothes dryer is a marvellous device to deal with wet washing on a rainy day. Today, however, many families use their dryers as a matter of course: it’s easier to open a dryer door than traipse outside and hang washing on a line in the sun. Call the clothes line a solar powered clothes dryer: it is free, easier on clothes (especially elastic) than an electric dryer, and the clothes smell fresher.
The average clothes dryer, according to treehugger.com, uses an alarming 875 kw/hours per year, which could mean up to £175 for some US households. Every week that the family doesn’t use the dryer is saving power for the environment – is a huge saving of both energy and money.
If there’s no way of avoiding the clothes dryer due to housing regulations or weather), make sure the lint filter is cleaned after each load as a blocked filter can add 30% to energy use, according to the consumer energy centre
Saving Energy with Dishwashers
Dishwashing seems to be a chore that most families are desperate to avoid, yet just a generation or two ago, there was no way round it… and it wasn’t so bad, really. ‘Washing up’ or ‘doing the dishes’ was often a family event when people got to chat.
The ubiquitous dishwasher may be a labour-saving device, but most models use far more water than a standard sink wash, and much of the energy consumed by the churning beasts is in heating the water required.
Consider saving the dishwasher for dinner parties and doing small loads in the sink the good old-fashioned way. If the dishwasher must be used, try stopping the machine at the start of the drying cycle, opening the door and allowing the dishes to air dry from their natural heat, rather than blow more super-heated air over them at great expense.
Saving Energy with Heating and Cooling
Home heating and air conditioning are two of the largest consumers of energy. So many people rush to the air con controls the moment the air feels a little stuffy, or turn on the heaters on wet cool days or immediately autumn signals chills.
There are some strange people who have the heaters roaring and then wear shorts and sleeveless tops, rather than put a few warm clothes on and suffer the slight downturns in the weather. Similarly, people who use the air conditioner often don’t think to open a few windows, dress coolly and, well…frankly, suffer the heat a bit.
Worse still, for long-term energy wastage, many homes that have air conditioning or heating installed, have not had good insulation installed first. Much energy is lost to poor insulation and, indeed, good home insulation might reduce the need for artificial heating and cooling altogether – or might at least limit the months that heating and cooling energy is consumed.
Saving Energy with Disposable Nappies (Diapers)
This is perhaps the hardest planet-saving suggestion to make and to have accepted. The disposable nappy or diaper has been a boon to busy mothers. To suggest that mothers (and the occasional father) return to cloth nappies, nappy rash and smelly buckets of horrid poo will earn no thanks from the ranks.
Nevertheless, that is the environmental message. Barbara Lord, way back in 1990, produced these figures that must have grown far more horrifying by now: In Australia, 400 million disposable nappies went into landfill each year. The cost of nappies for a child from birth to 3 years was at least £2000. Diaper disposal in the US (at that time) was costing the American taxpayer £100 million per annum.
What do people in the western world do with the hours saved by using energy-chewing devices. Many go to the gym or on walking or jogging programs because they aren’t using enough personal energy to remain fit and healthy. It’s clear that, if the world needs to conserve energy and other resources, then humans need to expend a little and switch a few machines off.