If you thought that you had already tried every way you can think of to save energy in your home, you should spare a thought for those innovators who are coming up with fresh ideas all the time. Some of these wacky ideas, might just become mainstream and help us all to save energy or to even make our own.
It has been reported this week that Wyke Farms – one of the UK's largest cheese and milk makers has started using pig and cow waste to generate electricity to run the farm. Richard Clothier, the managing director of the farm has said that by doing this they hope to shave as much as £1m off their energy bills for the year.
Clothier says that every time the price of energy would increase it would mean yet another £10,000 each month added to the price of making their cheese. He points out that he should have control over the cost of making his cheese, not oil rich countries in the Middle East. He points out that all manufacturers need to be focused on how they produce energy if they want to survive.
Known as a biogas facility, the energy producing plant is added to the solar panels already on the farm to create electricity and by next year the farm will also be producing biomethane so that they can avoid buying gas too. The cost of the projects has been partially subsidised by the government and Wyke Farm gets the feed-in-tariff for the energy they produce. It is expected that the investment will be paid back within 3-4 years.
So, if one farm has worked out that the by-product of their production (animal waste) can lead to huge savings, is it not possible for a domestic home to do the same? It is all about thinking outside the box and considering other ways to save and produce energy which might just give us a head start when it comes to energy prices.
We may not be able to routinely and cheaply harvest our own waste to produce energy – but here are plenty of other unusual ideas which can save us money.
- Consider installing a wood burning stove or burner attached to your boiler. You can burn all kinds of things reducing your overall waste and you are producing energy from it.
- Flush less often or reuse waste water for flushing. One clever idea is a wash basin which sits above the toilet cistern – the water from washing your hands flows into the toilet cistern to be used for flushing.
- Plant trees. Not only will they improve the environment – they provide shade when it is warm reducing the need for air conditioning. Fruit trees will even offer you the bonus of fruit in the summer.
- Invest in a small wind turbine and attach it to your house (planning permission may be required). This could produce a decent amount of energy.
- Get energy from the earth by installing a ground source heat pump to run your radiators.
We all need to think outside the box and find interesting ways to save energy. That way we can actually turn our heating on in the winter rather than struggling to pay our bills.