The true cost of energy

I recently stumbled across an article from Inhabitat about a German village that produces so much electrical energy that it makes about 5.6million euros profit for the villagers each year. I was so inspired that I have been thinking how my locality (population 4,500) could replicate that energy success.

Already many individual households are installing solar water heating and solar power panels for running their other electrical systems. (Take a look at the Little Greenie website) In a few months we have plans to go that route too – can’t wait. Even though the installation cost will take several years to pay off if you simply compare cost dollars to savings on power charges, the thing that excites me is we will be reducing the demand on coal and gas generation*.

One household installing solar panels doesn’t have much of an effect, however when you reach hundreds or thousands of houses with alternative power systems the impact becomes enormous. If there would be one inspiring dream I would have, it would be to turn out lovely Golden Bay into an energy-neutral location.

Of course, as quickly as these passive energy options are installed the faster we increase our power consumption by installing and using new technologies – automatic appliances and computer technology – that we forget to turn off at night. Appliances left on stand-by use up an unbelievable amount of power over a year. Take a look at Standby Power or EECA Energywise websites. But that’s for some more research!

*Note: In New Zealand we do not have nuclear power generation. By far the largest amount of electricity is generated by hydro-generation plants. But even these have an impact on the local environment through flooding of valleys to create dams and the interruption of natural habitats for native fish and plants.

By Heather Sylvawood, author of Real Estate Rollercoaster.

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