How to cut imported energy by 80%
In last weeks post, we looked at the possibilities for creating local jobs, and how this would begin with a local catalyst who initiates new projects; firstly, the easier revenue generating community energy projects, which in turn help finance the next layer; the worker owned CO-OPs. Then we have the foundations for a job creating collaborative enterprise hub. Finally we get the possibilities for indirect job creation, such as eco tourism and accounting services.
Hopefully it was useful as a general overview on some of the possibilities for helping boost local economies. However, before getting into the nuts and bolts of the practical examples on what can be done in your neighbourhood, beginning next week, I’ll conclude the last months series of posts with a general discussion about how these newly formed local enterprises can help householders reduce their dependence on expensive imported oil, natural gas and other fossil fuels.
If the main goal is local jobs, and to contain escalating living costs, it makes sense to look at where householders use most of their energy, and then to look at how we can substitute local energy where possible. Conventional wisdom says we should look at improving our houses thermal energy performance and drive more fuel efficient cars, and indeed most of the focus over the last ten years has concentrated on insulation and diesel cars.
Fossil fuelled food
However, as surprising as it usually is for people to discover, when you look at a typical families overall energy consumption, there are far simpler ways to reduce our dependence on imported energy. Tom Murphy, an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, has recently written an interesting post on this subject. In it, he highlights just how much energy we use to put food on our tables every day. It turns out that at an average fossil fuel energy input of 27kWh per person a day, a four person family can easily clock up 40,000kWh a year on food, more than their entire electricity and heat usage combined!
One simple way to remedy this is to get a community farm started in your neighbourhood, such as the one here in Cloughjordan (which now employs a few full time people), so you can get a good deal of your daily food requirements without all the processing and transport associated with conventional food production. There are plenty of ways to broaden this concept out to the other areas of electricity, heat and transport too, so i’ll leave you for this week with an infographic we’ve made to help illustrate some of these possibilities.