According to the latest projections in the BP Energy Outlook, India’s energy consumption will continue to grow by an alarming 4.2% p.a., which is faster than all major economies in the world. At 1027 TWh, India is the third largest consumer of electricity. And 67% (Yes, that’s almost 70%) of that, according to the latest government statistics comes from nonrenewable sources. Thermal power plants release poisonous gasses into the atmosphere, which can result in asthma, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases as well as causing corrosive acid rain. The water used to clean out fly ash from coal based power plants also pollutes the groundwater and nearby ponds,causing damage to the plants, animals, fish, birds and humans alike.

polluting thermal power plant

Thermal Power Plants are still our primary source of electricity


Why does this matter to you and your family?

Since reserves of fossil fuels like coal are finishing, the cost of coal will rise. Over the next few decades, that means the raw material costs in power plants will keep rising. As we get more dependent on electricity, our consumption will increase. Both these factors will combine into sending the cost of power generation up, which will get passed on to us, the consumers.

That means you will pay more for each unit of electricity your family uses. Over time, a much higher proportion of your income will go into paying off your electricity bill.

Add to that the illnesses brought on by breathing in polluted air, drinking polluted water, and eating vegetables, fruits, fish and meat from contaminated sources, and you have quite a problem with both short-term and long-term effects.

So what can you do about this?

Yes, it’s a huge problem, but it is also something that we, as individuals, can help solve, since 35% of electricity in cities is consumed by homes like yours and mine. And these steps don’t have to be drastic; just small ones also make a huge impact. We have all grown up with our parents telling us to switch off appliances, lights and fans that aren’t needed. But here are a few more tips you can follow to drop your electricity bills.

  • Smart devices around the home help save electricity, time and running costs. And one of the simplest ways of achieving that is with Smart Plugs and Smart Power Strips. These can be plugged into any normal electric socket and are connected via wifi to your phone, which can then switch them on or off from your phone, or at a pre-programmed time. You no longer need to wonder if you accidentally left the TV or water heater on, or if you dozed off while watching a DVD on your laptop. Can you imagine how much electricity that can potentially save for you around your home without disturbing your daily routine at all?
  • Smart Lighting is an amazingly easy way of saving a lot of electricity. It makes sure you have light when you need it and how much of it you need, but it saves you the botheration of turning it on and off, or dimming and brightening it at the right time. And let’s face it, we wind up leaving the lights on or at the brightest setting because of convenience. But now smart lighting is doing all the hard work, remembering and thinking for you. Replace your outdoor lights with Dusk-to-Dawn lights, which will automatically sense the light levels and switch on when it is getting dark and switch off at dawn. Similar lights are available for interiors as well, which will automatically dim themselves when there is more natural light in the room. Another of these handy light fittings are the ones with motion sensors, which will make an area light up when someone in moving, so these are very useful for corridors and apartment enteranceways. Now you needn’t choose between fumbling in the dark for your keys, and pointlessly wasting electricity in lighting the entryway for hours.
  • We love how switching from incandescent bulbs to CFLs dropped our bills. But there’s a new eco-hero in the scene. LEDs are up to 50% more energy-efficient, and last more than 6 times as long.
  • Your refrigerator takes up to 20% of your electricity consumption. Keep the temperature knob turned to a low setting and replace the rubber seals around the doors regularly to make sure that the cold air doesn’t keep leaking from there.
  • Keep your air conditioner on power-saving mode if it is available. Don’t bump the temperature down to 18º, if 22º is comfortable enough for you.
  • When you’re buying a new TV, opt for an LED TV. These use much less power than LCD or Plasma screens.
  • Whatever appliance you’re buying, check the energy star rating. The more number of stars an appliance label shows, that is how much more energy efficient it is, which means lower running costs.
  • Unplug appliances and chargers that aren’t in use. They keep consuming a small amount of electricity even when they are off. So remove your phone charger from the socket, pull out the microwave’s plug after dinner and keep the AC’s switch off rather than just keeping it on stand-by mode!

Watch this moving short film that reminds us of the luxuries we city dwellers take for granted

Clean Energy is the Future

However much you save electricity, power deficit  is a growing problem for India. Given the negative effects of Thermal Power, everyone understands that renewable power (solar power, wind energy and hydroelectric power) is the future, because it will not run out. Since this harnesses freely-available natural resources and has very low maintenance costs, the electricity costs barely anything to produce. Further, there are no harmful emissions, so it doesn’t pollute the air, water or soil.

A home powered by green energy isn’t just a pipe dream anymore. Watch the video to know more about what it takes to set up enough solar panels to power a normal urban home’s energy needs.

Although electricity produced from green energy projects will keep increasing in the coming decades, it is not at a fast enough rate to keep pace with our country’s ever-growing energy demands. However, with a little care and attention, it is easy to reduce our electricity consumption and keep our bills low, and to help the environment at the same time.

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