There are many obvious things most of us are addicted to in some degree or the other: caffeine, food, the Internet... The list goes on. But one thing often immediately overlooked is energy - depending on where in the world you live, you may not even know it since you take it for granted. We require energy in the form of fuel for transportation, oil for heating, and electricity to run our lifestyles.
I live in a region where brown outs and load shedding are a daily part of life, and it definitely gets you thinking about our energy dependence. Those who can afford it have battery banks and inverters to bridge the power outages, and some have solar panels in hybrid setups or completely off grid setups.
The moment the grid power goes off, everyone automatically becomes aware of their usage and switches off non-essential loads to conserve power. So you could almost say that we are energy conscious by necessity and not by choice - but that does not change the fact that it affects our awareness about energy. It makes the impending energy crisis a hard reality, and although it is currently just one region of one country, it becomes much easier to envision how this will affect us all sooner or later.
So how do we tackle the problem?
I believe that the best way is to reduce our footprint and strive to become energy-independent or at least less dependent. You could do this by
- Switching over to energy efficient lighting such as LED bulbs
- Monitoring your consumption regularly and thereby becoming aware of wasted energy in non-essential loads
- Adding a renewable source such as solar or wind either into a battery bank or directly into the grid
And that's just a start on the electricity front - many things can be done on the transportation and heating side as well.
As the saying goes: "necessity is the mother of invention". I think that this decade will bring about a host of grassroots efforts and solutions as we all wake up to the needs of the day. The Wattmon energy monitor I spent the last year developing is my personal contribution and just a tiny but hopefully not insignificant part of the solution. I look forward to hearing about your thoughts and innovations.
[Image courtesy of cooldesign / freedigitalphotos.net]