What is energy and what are the types of energy we use?
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Energy is used to power all kinds of things, from light bulbs, to boilers, and even our bodies! Energy definition: ‘power derived from the utilization of physical or chemical resources, especially to provide light and heat, or to work machines’. So, what is domestic energy?
Domestic energy is energy used in the home, used for cooking, charging our portable devices, powering appliances and our heating. Typically, homes throughout the UK use gas for heating and cooking, while electricity powers most other appliances which require power.
There are some homes across the UK which don’t have access to the gas network – which means they most likely use oil or wood burners to heat their homes, and electricity for cooking. This can be a very costly way of running a home – but what can you do when they are necessities?
Types of non-renewable energy
Traditional forms of domestic energy come from gas, oil and coal, which are known as fossil fuels – or non-renewable sources of energy. Although natural, they have a negative environmental impact and are limited in supply.
Burning fossil fuels releases carbon emissions back into the environment, damaging the health of our planet. Governments across the world have been tasked with reducing their countries' carbon emissions in the fight against climate change.
Although fossil fuels do have many positive measures, such as being easy to use, easy to transport and efficient to run – the negatives far outweigh the few positives. Not only this, but fossil fuels are running out, and fast. As said before, fossil fuels are non-renewable so cannot be reproduced – at least not for another few million years, anyway.
Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels is proving to be a tricky task, more than 70% of homes across the UK burn fossil fuels daily, as part of their normal routine. Replacing fossil fuelled appliances can be very costly, even if it does mean less carbon emissions in the long run.
Types of renewable energy
As the world comes to realise just how much we have damaged our planet by burning fossil fuels, more and more households are moving towards renewable energy as a source of power and heat. Renewable energy is extracted from natural resources, but unlike fossil fuels, the renewable resource will replenish within our lifetime – they are a part of the planet’s ecosystem.
The main sources of renewable energy include the sun (solar power), air, wind, biomass and hydro power. Most commonly, households are now installing measures such as solar panels, air or ground source heat pumps and battery backups, to power their homes with an eco-friendlier solution.
Here are some benefits of installing renewable technology within your home:
Making use of local resources
Reduce dependence on non-renewable energy, either in part or in full
Reduce the production of carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases
Reduce household energy bills – and in some cases, generate an additional income through selling surplus energy back to the grid
Whilst installing renewable energy sources at your home may seem quite expensive, the UK Government have available specific incentives, loans and interest free periods on various technologies, making them more accessible to your average-income household. For example, the Renewable Heat Incentive is one way the Government are encouraging households to replace their current heating system for ground or air source heat pumps. The RHI will offset the amount paid for the technology through quarterly payments across seven years.
Many homes are looking to go a step further, by installing home-battery solutions such as the Tesla Powerwall. These solutions enable homes to harness the power of the sun, by storing the excess energy generated by solar panels, making it ready for use on demand. Homes which do have solar panels installed often find they need to power their homes via the grid during the evening which doesn’t necessarily reduce their energy bills. Battery solutions enable homes to run off-grid during the evenings – or even when there is a power outage – as the charged battery can take over and supply power to the necessary appliances.
What is best for my home?
As we have seen, there are many different types of energy available, all with the potential to supply your home with electricity and heat. The questions you need to ask are; what can you afford, and what is best for your household in the long run?
Many households are taking advantage of the Government schemes, while others qualify for assistance with purchasing via the benefits they receive, as the Government works towards their plan of a carbon free environment by 2050.