With energy bills rising to record highs, more people are feeling the pinch when it comes daily necessities.
The cost of natural gas to heat homes and produce electricity is four times as high as it was in 2021. Natural gas is used to heat about half of German homes in the European Union.
The post-COVID recovery and the unusually cold European winter of 2021, which depleted gas stocks, are two factors that contributed to the dramatic price increase. Supply problems are also to blame. The International Energy Agency has singled out Russia for reducing its European exports by about 25% in the last three months 2021, compared to a one year earlier. Nearly 40% comes from Russia.
“We see strong elements ‘artificially tightness’ on European gas markets. This is likely to be due to Russia’s state gas supplier.” January, Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, wrote. “And this is despite extremely high natural gas market prices that we have seen in the recent months.”
What can we do if we want to move away natural gas?
A shift to renewables is back
Pushing elected officials to increase their support for renewable energies could help us reduce our dependence upon natural gas.
Robert Habeck, German Economy Minister, has stated that the war in Ukraine and the suspension of the multibillion euro Nord Stream 2 gas pipe between Russia, Germany, and Russia could lead to a rapid expansion for renewable energy sources.
According to him, “I believe that the current circumstances will help the transition towards renewable energy in Germany and Europe.” He spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday. “People realize that it is not just a climate-related problem, but also a safety- or security-related concern right now.”
Birol said in his commentary that “Today’s situation underlines how energy systems face serious risks if they too heavily rely on one supplier of a key element.”
Hans-Josef Fell is a former member for the Green Party in Germany and head of Energy Watch Group. He stated that Germany and the EU would not be in this situation today if they had continued funding renewables.
“Solar radiation and wind as domestic energy sources are not required to be imported.” He wrote in an analysis Wednesday. “A strong increase of renewable energy in the last decade instead of the politically imposed massive drop could have led the EU to break its dependence on Russia and made it more powerless towards suppliers countries like Russia.”
Invest in energy efficiency
Even if we invest billions in wind, solar, and other renewables immediately, our gas consumption will not drop overnight. However, there are steps that you can take to lower your gas consumption.
Insulating your home properly can make a big difference. WWF, an environmental group, stated that the most energy-efficient buildings today use 75% less energy than average homes or offices, which can help you save a lot of money. For older homes, WWF recommends hiring an expert to audit your energy usage, pointing out that up to a third of household heat can escape through uninsulated attics, gaps in floorboards or outdated windows.
A plexiglass pane can attach to existing windows with fabric fasteners, adding a layer of thermal insulation.
Renters and those with tight budgets may not be able to afford renovations or upgrades to double- or triple-glazed windows. Other options for insulation include sealing the gaps with sealants or newspaper, and adding draft stoppers at the bottom of doors.
Insulating shutters and curtains can help keep out the heat or keep in the warmth. Double-glazed windows have many benefits. You can cover the interior with a thin sheet of plexiglass, which is inexpensive and easy to install.
Place a lid on it
Other solutions can be found for little or no cost, at least in terms of money. Energy companies and consumer groups offer many energy-saving tips, including shorter showers and baths, turning off lights when not needed, lowering the thermostat and wearing a sweater.
According to the US Department of Energy, consumers can save up 10% on cooling and heating costs by setting the thermostat at 7-10 degrees Fahrenheit (4-6 degrees Celsius) for eight hours each night while you sleep.
It can be easy not to notice simple ways to reduce natural gases in the home. Many households rely on electricity from burning gas for their electricity needs. Simple things like drying laundry, unplugging appliances when not in use, and cooking large quantities of food only once per week can add up.
Simple things like putting a lid over a pot of boiling water can reduce energy consumption up to four times. According to an Iowa State University 2019 study.
Change what you eat
Directly, you can reduce your gas consumption by eating less meat or organic products.
Natural gas isn’t just used for powering our homes, but also in industries that use it to make packaging and everyday products like detergents and containers.
It is also used in traditional agricultural products such as feedstock, pesticides, and fertilizers. These products are made by mixing nitrogen gas from the air with hydrogen gas from natural gas in a process called fixation. According to the International Gas Union (IGU), industrial use uses about a fifth world’s total natural gas supply.
The Post Carbon Institute is a US-based sustainability thinktank. Has made a shift to organic agricultureIt would decrease dependence on imported gas as well as controversial shale gas reserves.
Michael Bomford, an expert on sustainable agriculture, wrote that reducing agriculture’s dependence upon nitrogen fixed with natural gas can increase agricultural sustainability. “The challenge of the future is to reduce nitrogen fertilizer use by restoring biological processes capable of satisfying plants’ nitrogen requirements using energy from the sun rather than natural gas.
Edited By: Tamsin W. Walker