8 Tips to Lower Your Energy Bill this Summer

As temperatures continue to raise and the energy supply is threatened to diminish, immediate solutions which contribute to reduce the energy usage and costs are needed with urgency. As such, I decided to share some tips with you to do so. Hopefully they can help you reduce your energy bill and our countries’ dependency on Russian energy supply. Whether you’re a household or a company, hopefully my tips help you:

Households:

  1. Do your energy intensive activities on the weekends when prices are lower. Cook on the weekend meals which can be kept on the fridge so you only need to warm them up throughout the week, using less energy and reduce your costs. Preferably, eat low fat meals as they reduce the body temperature and the need for low temperatures. Eat seasonal salads and fruit as much as possible.
  2. Make natural air currents at home when temperatures are lower, typically early morning and late in the evening to increase freshness and reduce air con usage.
  3. Close all windows and use blackouts to cut the light and prevent heating your place throughout the day when temperatures increase.
  4. At night switch on as few lights as possible to reduce home light induced heat.
  5. If your windows aren’t energy efficient, do change them to double glaze glasses and efficient frames.
  6. Reduce the temperature of your shower.
  7. Use light fabrics and light-coloured clothes.
  8. Switch your bulbs to LED ones.

Buildings:

  1. Fix the temperature to a regular level.
  2. Roll the curtains down or install blackouts to reduce the building’s temperature.
  3. Allow ventilation to prevent electrical equipment overheating.
  4. Use natural light as much as possible.
  5. Improve your office’s thermal insulation.
  6. Instruct your employees to become energy efficient in the equipment usage and charging cycles.
  7. If your country has large swimming pool capacity. Negotiate with your employees time off during the afternoons so they can work when is fresher and enjoy the swimming pools in the afternoon.
  8. Invest in energy efficient equipment.

With care to your energy bill,

former energy strategic stocks manager and economist

Is René Magritte related to Earth’s Overshoot Day?

We are a part of this planet history, being the existence of most of us a tiny fraction in its timeline. René Magritte, the surrealist Belgian painter, illustrated so quite well in its “Human condition” paintings, one of which pictured above.

This realistic vision is also myopic to the extent that most cannot see the collective impact of individual similar actions. Those squandering behaviours continue as more of the old or similar products are available at the distance of a shop or a click & collect. Ecstatic by the new items or services purchased consumers may perceive a life in heaven when in fact are continuing the curse on the Planet. René Magritte’s La Malédiction, (The Curse) from 1963 and pictured below, illustrates it quite well.  

René Magritte’s La Malédiction, (1963) can be seen in Brussels at Magritte museum

We do have a chance to switch the surreal curse into a real paradise! Switching from the unsustainable linear production and consumption model to the circular model is a way to achieve so.

Achieving sustainable circular economy models stimulates creativity and innovation in the quest of giving goods a longer life, increasing thus its usage not only in one product but also in subsequent manufacturing processes.

Reducing the national depletion rate gap which spans from January to December is thus a must. The later in the year the better. And the soon we can change those habits, the better. The big depletion rate comes mainly from the 1% who in their culture of wealth demonstrations drive the Planet to a continuous global warming. How about following Bill Gates in donating fortunes to well managed institutions to tackle global causes instead of continuously seeking to being featured in the Year’s wealthiest person. He is donating his to the Gates foundation. Well done Mr Bill Gates.

Human capital has increased globally yet there are nations that prevent it from being used, either fully or partially. This is a waste of resources that should be reduced too as in so doing and well oriented may lead to Natural Capital improvements.

René Magritte gives us a perspective of our existence. We have a chance to act with overlasting impact, too. Would be good that by 2030 the depletion trend we have seen in the last four decades as illustrated in the graphic below is reduced and by 2050 is reverted. Yes, we can! Obama said so and made history! Collectively, Humanity can achieve what is needed. It does request a mindset shift too.

Would like to check your footprint impact on Earth’s overshoot day? Use the calculator by the Earth Overshoot Day NGO https://www.footprintcalculator.org/home/en. It has its limitations, though.

Three reasons to fall in love with sustainability

Being sustainable means that existing resources will be used in a way that current as well as future generations can access and use them to the same extent permitting similar or better living conditions. So, it’s not only for the future but also for the present! Hence, I’m sharing with you the 3 fundamental reasons why you’ll fall in love with sustainability as soon as you realise the good of it.

  1. Getting healthier

Thanks to technological and knowledge improvements the air has gotten cleaner. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 395 million people suffer from chronic respiratory diseases (CRD), over 10 million die annually and 4 million of them do so prematurely. Other sources identify over 500 million of CRD and a 39,5% increase on CRD between 1990 and 2017. The WHO has identified “tobacco smoke, indoor and outdoor air pollution, and air containing microbes, toxic particles, fumes or allergens” as the top sources of unhealthy air. It is known that GHG emissions have soared since the beginning of the Anthropocene as the world was making economic progress, which paved the way to further research and the current knowledge. It has been a trade-off society has incurred. Given that technological developments and policies have enabled an increased renewable energy generation in the energy mix, powering further progress, society has a duty to transit to a cleaner energy mix, doing so reliably and robustly. Aligning stakeholders to do so has been challenging but as more benefits from deploying such technologies are understood less resistance is faced. An illustration of such improvements is the air quality in Beijing, more in the spotlight in the last two weeks due to the 2022 Winter Olympic games. It has been reported that Beijing has improved its air quality implementing very tough measures such as a winter without heating to force replacement of old coal boilers for cleaner versions and halt of the production from polluting sources. In the graphic below, which I elaborate using Air Quality index data, it’s observable that Chinese air improved during 2008 Olympics but retreated 3 years later, to improve again. Recently, the FT published two pictures of the same location of Beijing in 2008 and 2022. The first showing thick levels of pollution and the second a clear sky. Cutting pollution implies fewer toxic particles in the air and an expected improved air quality, which reduces the number of people with chronic respiratory diseases and hence a healthier population, in what concerns CRD, hence a better life quality. Doesn’t that make you happier?

Own elaboration with AQLI’s data

2. Getting wealthier

Sustainable goods and practices are characterised by being durable, which means they last longer than non-sustainable ones being manufactured for multiple uses. They also should be conceived for reparation and re-integration in the manufacturing cycle extending the product and its components life expectancy. This means that instead of spending for example, 30 euros for a sweatshirt every year, you spend for example 60 euros on a sweatshirt which can be used in great conditions for 7 years. In doing so, the materials you’re saving by reusing multiples times the same product are being saved for future generations, so they can also be accessed and used while simultaneously you’re financially saving.

Multiple studies such as the IPCC reports show that climate change will affect geographies with extreme weather events. Knowing the risks to be faced and how to mitigate them, may allow for future savings, which ultimately increase wealth.

It has been shown that being sustainable has benefits for the Planet, the People and the Organisations. Leading organisations such as Unilever have embraced in sustainable practices and improved their revenues as shown in the graphic below, I created based on macro trends data, along with its profits, share value and distributed dividend and yield. Paul Polman, its CEO between 2009 and 2019 has been the face of sustainable leadership pushing for a systemic transformation in businesses and in society.

Own elaboration with macrotrends’ data

3. Building better

As a responsible citizen or organization, you embrace in sustainable practices, which include consuming and producing responsibly. Doing so, allows the finite resources to be maintained for a longer period allowing future generations to use them and enjoy high living standards. Aren’t we grateful for the land which has been feeding the world? Or to get to beaches and mountains that have been kept accessible and clean throughout the years by our ancestors? Haven’t we benefited from Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, and millions of inventors, studies, good practices that have been contributing to society’s increased welfare and life standards? So why are we preventing future generations from enjoying the good in our Planet and improve future life standards? Do you want to Build Better? Reach out to me, perhaps I can help you!

Photo by Cup of Couple on Pexels.com

Energy Transition investments

High-voltage electricity transmission lines and poles.
Photo taken by Filipa Ferreira

Global investments in energy transition increased by 9%, reaching over $500 billion in 2020. Although investments in Renewable energy grew by 2% from 2019 levels, the surge stemmed from investments that will enable Electric vehicles to be used in the near future. A record year for EV investments with an 28% surge, as BNEF points out in its Energy Transition Investments Report.

Renewable investments continue to be made in the infinite natural resources of solar irradiation and wind. Investments in Biomass have decreased, showing a better alignment with the Paris Agreement goals and the need to invest in assets that limit global warming to 1.5ºC by 2030.

On the corporate sector, organisations have been also actively taking part in the energy transition, as illustrated in the graphic below, collected by Statista from BNEF data. As it can be observed, signing Paris Agreement has been key in this transition. In 2017 corporate PPA investments surged by 44%, in 2018 by 119% and 2019 by 43%. Geographically, the USA has been leading on corporate PPA’s investments.

Global Corporate PPAs historic investments from 2008 to 2019
Source: Statista and BNEF

Despite all clean energy investments made so far, more are still needed to ensure demand is met by cleaner sources. In 2020, OECD still generated 54.7% of electricity from fossil fuels, data from IEA shows. Renewable generation only grew by 4%. Only OECD data is revealed as at the moment, data from the rest of the world isn’t available.

Economic activity can take its normal course uninterruptedly, if the energy network that sustains it is reliable. Currently, reliability to ensure that security of supply is still an issue, as neither sun nor wind are continuously available or when consumers mostly need it. For example, electricity storage investments in 2020 remained unchanged from 2019, as per BNEF’s report. If there’s capacity to produce but no capacity to store when its cost is lower, an opportunity may be wasted.

To reduce that waste and help balancing the electricity system, options are available. At industrial level, demand response is widely available and G2V-V2G is emerging along with renewable energy installations for self-consumption, as the above graphic shows. On the domestic side, consumers are increasingly installing energy-efficient appliances. BNEF indicates a 12% increase in 2020. Prosumers are also on the rise. But to optimise energy assets, either big or small, professionals will be needed.

Fossil Fuels

Fossil Fuels

The Cambridge dictionary defines fossil fuels as “fuels, such as gas, coal, and oil, that were formed underground from plant and animal remains millions of years ago”. Any fossil fuel is composed of hydrocarbons, hydrogen and carbon.

For many decades, humans have been using fossil fuels for many purposes as heating, travelling, clothe themselves, manufacturing or to produce electricity that sustained most of the economic activity. As illustrated in the Oil refining tower infographic below, oil by-products are obtained in the refining process of crude oil barrels. The first by-product from the refining process is bitumen, which is mainly used to asphalt roads, so we can easily circulate through it with our means of transport. The latter use other by-products such as Gas Oils or Naftas. Naftas are also used in many fibres, which once transformed make many consumers happy with the new clothes or the plastic components used in many gadgets, tools or other products. These are so present in our daily life that with our current lifestyle and the current technological developments, would be very challenging to live without them. Fuel Oils are often used not only by maritime transport but also in waxes or oils that once transformed make our homes smell better. What would be of the barbecues or camping cooking if LPG wasn’t made available? The lifestyle of many has been hugely sustained by fossil fuels.

Oil refining tower with its by-products and examples of respectve purposes.
Edited from Wermac and Bismarck State College National Energy Center of Excellence’s illustration
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Celebrating the Paris Agreement

The 12th of December marks the day a new global agreement to tackle Climate Change has been approved at the last session of the 21st Conference of the Parties, held in Paris in 2015. Promoted by the United Nations, COP is a yearly meeting where global policy makers, businesses and civil society gather to discuss and agree how Climate Change mitigation should be tackled globally.

With the Kyoto protocol coming to an end, and the global GHG emissions not being reduced but increased, bolder commitments were needed to tackle the global problem that impacts not only the current generations but also future ones. Whilst with the Kyoto protocol nations’ commitments are voluntary, with the Paris Agreement, once ratified, nations are obliged to comply with it. In doing so, committed nations work towards the achievement of global sustainable development, ensuring Climate Change risks are mitigated and future generations do not have a deferred dream.

As mentioned in my first entry in this blog, the GHG emissions have been raising considerably in the Anthropocene. Human’s activity has accelerated since the first industrial revolution. As knowledge and science evolve, we became more aware of the negative impact of our actions. As rational beings, many of us are attempting to mitigate that impact so we all can enjoy the beauty of our living #Planet, and so may the future generations. But a higher #wellbeing can only be achieved with a joint effort from us all, is time for #ActionforClimateEmpowerment. With that in mind, the Paris Agreement has been promptly ratified by leading nations. Not a surprise that last year many nations, businesses and civil society were very upset with the USA withdrawal by its 45th president, in a backward harmful movement on what had been achieved globally and in that country with under the 44th president leadership. Thankfully the joint action of leading nations, businesses and civil society managed to exercise the right pressure for the USA to re-join the Paris Agreement commitment.

What can each of those forces do to help reach the Paris Agreement goals and eventually limit global warming to a maximum of 2ºC, ideally 1.5ºC?

Continue reading “Celebrating the Paris Agreement”