As the global population grows, the pressure on energy resources grows as well. If we won’t start utilising alternative sources of energy on a larger scale, we are facing a risk of energy shortage because most of energy is generated by burning fossil fuels. And these are available in fixed amounts. Sustainable living is therefore above all based on sustainable energy – energy that can meet our needs without affecting the environment or compromising access to resources for the future generations. This means that sustainable energy must be able to meet the needs indefinitely. Sustainable energy resources therefore must be renewable. Currently, several renewables can be utilised as an alternative to fossil fuels:
- Solar energy
It is constant, clean and can be used to heat buildings, water and generate electricity. The prices of solar panels are getting more accessible, however, the majority of households still can’t afford solar technology which would enable them to cover their energy needs. Nevertheless, even a single solar panel for hot water does a major difference.
- Wind power
Utilisation of wind power is not new but the use of wind turbines to generate electricity took off only in the recent years. In comparison to solar energy which can be harnessed just about anywhere, wind power can be utilised only in regions with the right condition.
- Geothermal heat
Technologies which utilise geothermal heat either extract heat from geothermal water or from the ground. The first option is limited to regions with geothermal water being relatively close to the surface, while heat from the ground can be extracted just about anywhere. Heat pumps which are used mainly for heating buildings use some electricity but since the heat they extract from the ground/thermal water is constant, they are a renewable source of energy.
Wood burning is a major contributor to deforestation which in turn is causing a serious environmental damage. However, if obtained from sustainably managed forests, it is a renewable source of energy. In addition to wood, biomass also encompasses other organic materials that can be used to produce energy such as organic waste which can be used to produce biogas which in turn can be used as an alternative to petroleum-based fuels and natural gas.
When non-renewable energy resources cannot be replaced by renewables for one reason or the other, sustainable living promotes an increased focus on energy efficiency – selection of energy efficient household appliances and responsible use of energy.