A quick survey of cleantech advances in Europe shows that it’s easier than ever for individuals and private households to live the cleantech lifestyle without sacrificing comfort or convenience. And while we may not think our individual decisions matter, we all know that when it comes to resources, we’re factoring these choices by 7 billion these days. Even your choice to read this post online has an impact – an in-depth look at the impact of our use of digital information in recent New York Times article states that a single data center can take more power than a medium-size town.
Stay with me; I’m not faulting you for that but instead hope to encourage you to keep an eye out for the latest cleantech innovations that you might find easy, comfortable and cost-saving enough to warrant bringing them into your life.
For example, we all like to take a shower with plenty of hot water rather than tepid, lukewarm water, right? UK-based Viridian Solar would agree, which is why they’ve developed a water heating system powered by rooftop solar panels and made it available to the general public.
This solar water heating can provide 50-70 percent of the annual energy required to heat domestic hot water, reducing the overall energy consumption of a well-insulated house by around 10-12 percent. To date, more than 300 dwellings across the UK have been fitted with Viridian’s panels.
How about laundry – what’s next there? Xeros Ltd—another UK based company—is focused on the development of a “virtually waterless” laundry cleaning system that uses 90 percent less water than conventional laundry systems. To take entire U.S. water use in home laundry as an example, that translates into 1.2 billion tons of water saved per year—the equivalent of 17 million swimming pools.
Xeros debuted its revolutionary, environmentally friendly cleaning process earlier this year on the British TV series Home of the Future, which shows how an ordinary family can use cutting edge technologies and gadgets to tackle challenges such as energy and water use.
It’s getting even easier to power our homes with more sustainable sources of energy too.
For example, in the UK, government subsidy led to a swift rise in requests by householders for solar power. UK company Cleaner Air Solutions stepped in to make photovoltaic systems widely available and easily deployed for private residences. If the customer testimonials on their web site are to be believed, the process really is quite simple and straightforward: “hassle-free from start to finish” in the words of one customer.
Similarly, German company enbreeze designed a small-scale wind turbine that is even viable on low-wind sites, thus expanding the number of potential residences that can tap into this clean energy source.
Since home energy use is responsible for 25 percent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union, the potential impact of companies like Cleaner Air Solutions and enbreeze is no small matter.
The main point here is that for the most part, these innovations aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams: they’re solutions that are available today, or are right around the corner, made possible by brilliant innovators and design technology. With so many of the elements of a more sustainable lifestyle in place, “doing the right thing” as an individual consumer or private household is less of a burden to bear and indeed a more appealing choice.