Going Green

by J Tillotson

Ever wondered what the world would be like without electricity, gas, water on tap and heat? Sounds like a nightmare, the stuff of Hollywood, right? Wrong. It is a world we could be facing in the not-too-distant future, if we don't do something about it.

So what can we do? How do we avoid this scary scenario?

One alternative that is becoming more and more popular is so-called “green” energy, using renewable resources and harnessing them to provide us with the home comforts we've come to depend on as a species.

There are four basic types of renewable, or “green”, energy:

Solar - using energy from the sun and converting it to heat and electricity. We have all seen solar panels doing this wonderful job, but probably never thought you could get one yourself. Well, now you can.

Wind - No shortage of this resource in the UK! It's a good thing too, because wind energy provides a clean source of power with no nasty emissions into our precious atmosphere.

Hydroelectric/water - Using another limitless resource (essentially what green energy is all about), hydro-energy converts stored energy in water into kinetic energy to power turbines.

Biomass - Essentially, this uses natural and waste products to produce heat. Think of the old-fashioned wood-burning heating systems and you have the general idea. Of course, there is much more to it than just burning wood. Practically any biodegradable material can be used.

And that’s the basic idea behind green energy. So where to start? As well as the simplest ways of recycling your rubbish, and growing your own vegetables, you could switch to an energy-efficient supplier of your utilities.

More and more gas and electricity companies are waking up to the benefits of going green and offering a green tariff in addition to their regular services. Generally this takes the form of generating an equal amount of green energy for every unit of fossil fuel consumed. But there is also the option of paying a little extra into your supplier to be invested into renewable energy systems.

Remember: we only have one planet. Help to look after it!