Energy inefficiency

December 6, 2015 Michael Ideas & InspirationThe Build

Of great help in the pursuit of positive outcomes for humans and the earth is the concept of energy efficiency. Those aspects of human life which suffer the greatest inefficiency can readily be seen as overlapping almost entirely with the most severe environmental impacts.

Some of the most significant forms of energy consumption associated with human habitation are; space heating, water heating, water purification, the embodied energy of groceries and manufactured products, lighting refridgeration, the energy consumption of general appliances. Much of the energy employed to those aims is wasted through poor design and the low prioritisation of efficiency and environmental impact. Following are listed the types of inefficiency common in various aspects of living in mainstream industrialised habitation which could feasibly be tackled through different designs;

Space heating

  • Air carries significant heat outside through draughts or ventilation.
  • Heat conducts away to the outside through building structure, due to lack of adequate insulation.
  • Available solar energy is rejected rather than stored in summer and generated rather than retrieved from storage in winter.

Water heating

  • Available solar energy not exploited for solar-thermal water heating
    Heat escapes through greywater sent to the sewers.
  • Water is often heated by electricity generated remotely, whereas the electricity generation process itself produces abundant hot water.
  • Water purification
  • All water including toilet flushing and irrigation is typically purified uneccesarily to the extent of being fit for human consumption.
  • Greywater from washing is sent directly to the sewers rather than being processed and reused for toilet flushing.

Embodied energy

  • Foods produced by industrialised agriculture with fossil fuel derived agri-chemicals.
  • Foods transported long distances to locations where they might feasibly have been grown in the first place.
  • Packaging and manufactured goods with low energy alternatives.

Lighting

  • Some technologies, such as filament lamps, have very low energy efficiency.
  • Usually controlled manually, without the option to automatically turn off while the user is out of the room.
  • Some energy efficient technologies, such as compact fluorescents, are unsuitable for short periods of use and suffer reduced lifetimes.

Refridgeration

  • The majority of mainstream fridges are poorly insulated and have cabinet designs which encourage cold air to spill out.

Appliances

  • Many appliances consume significant energy in standby mode.
  • Some, for example cooking appliances are poorly insulated and release a large amount of waste heat.

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