By Polite Ndhlovu
To cover great distances, one starts with a single step.
Now is the time for Zimbabwean citizens to act in saving energy and using it wisely.
Winter is upon us. It is usually the time when energy consumption rises. As we try to beat the cold, we should act responsibly and save energy. Saving energy is not only easy on the pocket, but the environment as well.
High demand for electricity results in more fossil fuels being burnt resulting in more greenhouse gasses being emitted. This contributes to global warming and climate change.
The government acknowledged that Zimbabwe has highly variable climate making it one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. This calls us to introspect and play our part in minimising the damage. Saving energy means less fossil fuels burnt, hence less greenhouse gasses (GHG) emission.
Zimbabwe’s Second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), shows that the energy sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, contributing 60.7% of total GHG emissions. Energy sector emissions emanate from the combustion of carbon related fuels and fugitive emissions from coal mining and handling.
Fuel combustion from use of fossils comprising coal, diesel, petrol and paraffin contribute more than 99% of energy related emissions. Zimbabwe therefore needs to enhance or promote alternative energy sources that contribute less to GHG emissions. Our behaviours in saving energy also buttress this goal.
With climate change becoming so evident, measures need to be taken especially in the energy sector. As stated in the Zimbabwe Climate Change policy of 2016 such measures must necessarily include the integration of climate information into government policies.
This should be done in line with global efforts to address climate change such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to which Zimbabwe is a signatory. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties 21, this requires the widest possible co-operation by all countries to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
Our government has done a lot towards achieving this goal.
Now we, the citizens, should participate in helping the government achieve this goal. We might have no power to control or manage bigger projects, but there are many things that we can do to save energy.
A research done in Seattle City, USA, shows that If you have electricity generated heat, it accounts for around half of your electricity bill during the heating season. The best way to save is to turn down your thermostat.
At night or when you’re not home it’s good to turn off themostats. Turning your thermostat all the way up does NOT heat your home faster. It just wastes energy overheating to the temperature you set it to. On the other hand, it is better to wear warm clothes and avoid using heaters.
When boiling water, people should boil the required amount of water. If one needs a cup of tea one should not heat a full kettle. Geysers also consume a lot of energy and during winter more hot water is used for bathing and many other household chores. The thermostat can be set to around 60-65 degrees Celsius rather than leaving it at 100 degrees Celsius.
Also use little water. This saves both water and energy. Alternatively and more efficiently, one can use solar geysers instead of electrical ones.
Most electronics, computers and monitors draw power (called stand-by power), even when they are turned off. Make sure that they are turned off and turnoff the plugs. Some kitchen tips include:
- replacing loose or damaged refrigerator door seals
- defrost the freezer whenever ice builds up
- cover leftovers before putting them in the refrigerator. Uncovered leftovers emit heat and moisture which makes the refrigerator work harder to cool it down
- covering pots tightly reduces cooking time
- see that the pot size matches the burner size of your stovetop to avoid unnecessary heat loss
- avoid opening the oven door unless necessary. The temperature can drop by as much as 25 degrees
- cook meals for everyone at one time rather than cooking small individual meals at different times
Rooms that are not occupied or not in use should be switched off. Types of lights used should be energy saving lights such as compact fluorescent light (CFL) and light emitting diode (LED) lights. CFLs use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Laundry should also be done wisely. Hand wash clothes in cold water as opposed to using laundry machines. The clothes can then be dried in the sun instead of using a drier.
Industries can also adopt green technologies that use little energy. They should also find ways to reuse the heat or energy from other processes to power other areas in the plant. Industries should be properly insulated so that little energy is used.
Planting trees is always the best thing we can do for this planet. They absorb all the carbon in the atmosphere enabling us to breathe clean and fresh oxygen.
Let us all work together, in the little ways we can, for a better tomorrow.