Oil Spill Underscores the Need for Renewable Resources

President Obama emphasizes conservation

 Pushing all politics aside, the devastating BP oil spill in the Gulf is hard evidence that the United States is relying far too heavily on fossil fuels; fuels that are being rapidly depleted. More than 37 percent of our nation’s energy use comes from oil and Americans consume even more energy (mostly from natural gas and coal) for homes and buildings. These various forms of fossil fuels make up 41 percent of our nation’s total energy use according to the Energy Information Agency.

President Obama has urged Americans to begin taking the steps to reducing their dependence on fossil fuels and turn towards other renewable resources. Below are a few ideas that Americans can take to reducing their carbon footprint and help to conserve energy. ::continue::

  1. Pay attention to packaging: When out shopping, try to go to stores or co-ops that keep packaging to a minimum. For example, you may choose to buy the loose tomatoes rather than boxed or plastic-wrapped tomatoes. Also, take reusable bags to the grocery store.   
  2. Eat Less Beef: Producing one pound of beef requires up to 29 times more water  than one pound of chicken and 50 times more water than  one pound of soy beans.   
  3. Ditch bottled water: Bottled water has a huge carbon footprint — it’s bottled at one location in small plastic bottles and shipped all over. Try buying a reusable water bottle or canteen for your water.   
  4. Heat your home with the sun: Solar thermal can also heat your home. This technology harnesses the power of the sun to convert that energy in the heat for your home. Many people underestimate the power that the sun can provide. Yet even in the dead of winter, that sun is still shining and energy can be collected and used throughout the home.   
  5. Unplug it!: Unplug appliances that you don’t use frequently. Most electronics have a standby mode that siphons energy even when not in use. Cell phone chargers, laptops, televisions, stereos — there’s a whole list of items that should be unplugged when not in use.   
  6. Use cold water:  Try using cold water to launder things that don’t need to be cleaned in hot or warm water. It takes a lot of energy to heat up water — multiply that by the number of loads, and that’s a big footprint.   
  7. Seal those windows and doors: You must make sure that all of your doors and windows are sealed properly. This is the most important thing you can do to your home. If air is escaping or coming in, you are dumping money down the drain.   
  8. Change those bulbs: Make those small adjustments. Switching light bulbs, purchasing honeycomb blinds, adjusting your thermostat to only run when you’re there or to turn it up at night. These small changes are really easy to do and don’t cost much, but can add up to a lot in savings of energy costs.   
  9. Consider Solar Panels: If you own your home, solar panels are a great thing to consider when switching over to more eco-friendly installations. You are receiving converted energy from the sun, and there’s no cleaner power than that!   
  10. Harness the heat of the earth: Geothermal energy can save a bundle. Imagine not having to pay anything to heat or cool your home? In Chicago, this sounds like a dream. But geothermal energy has the capacity to do just that. Homes can essentially harness the heat and/or cool air from the earth. This system would operate similarly to your normal furnace or A/C unit but at a fraction of the cost.




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Dalida is a managing partner is Natural Dynamics a renewable energy company in Chicago.

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