In these days of rising energy prices we’d all like to save a little money here and there. From high tech solutions such as Smart Meters through to basic ideas such as putting on a pair of thermal socks, we can all cut back on our supply.
But are there ways in which we can significantly reduce our outgoings? Here are five energy saving ideas that are so mad, they might just work!
1. The Candle Heater
In November 2013 a video emerged showing a consumer switching to candle power with a DIY heater which they claimed could run at a cost of just over a dime a day! The device was simple to construct and required four tea-light candles placed in a meat loaf tin. After that, two ceramic pots were placed over the top, once those candles had been lit.
Now, the video didn’t promise that you would suddenly be sitting on the couch in just a pair of shorts – in fact it recommends a very thick layer of clothing – but tests show that it works to some degree, when used in conjunction with a running PC.
Convection explains this unlikely solution but if you have the patience, why not give it a try?
2. It came from Outer Space…
Solar Power that is – or at least it could happen from 2016 after California based Pacific Gas & Electric agreed in principle to buy 200 megawatts of electricity that would be beamed down from space by Solaren Corp’s equipment.
Solaren are a start up with an ambitious plan to send solar panels into the Earth’s orbit by 2016 and they claim that they will provide competitive energy as a result. The savings you make on your heating bills may not be quite so significant – after all, there is greater investment required in orbiting solar panels than there is with setting up a loaf tin and some tea lights – but one day, power from space could just become a reality.
3. Artificial Trees
We all learned about the principle of photosynthesis in fourth grade biology but could the process work if created artificially? Research for this new angle originates from the UK where two separate teams are attempting to recreate the photosynthesizing process by building leaves of their own in a specially designed lab.
While this is still very much in the development stages, the team from Imperial College London believe that the practise works and that artificial trees can be created to produce clean fuels including methanol and hydrogen. Those trees will also blend in with their surroundings and in theory, passers-by will not be able to tell the difference – at least until they try to carve their names into the bark.
4. Cow S@@@
We all know that cow dung produces methane but could the many, many tons of manure ever be harnessed to provide a significant level of energy? Back in 2008, Scientists from the University of Texas announced results of a study which claimed that there is enough manure produced from the nation’s livestock to generate 3% of the overall US demand.
There are added benefits too and dung left to rot will produce harmful greenhouse gasses and the burning of manure produces less CO2 than the same process does for coal. However, five years have passed since the Texas study and while these are eyebrow-raising figures, we seem no nearer to using animal waste as an effective source of fuel.
It’s OK, we’re not going to go down the route of discussing human waste here but each of us generates a significant amount of energy every day – somewhere between 60 and 100 watts. In most areas of the world, all of that energy is going to waste but not in Stockholm, Sweden, where excess body heat is used to power 30% of a local office.
Kungsbrohuset is an environmentally friendly building with water used directly from a nearby canal for cooling. But the most impressive innovation sees body heat drawn from passengers at Stockholm Central Station which is then converted into heating for the complex.
What crazy energy ideas would you adopt in order to bring down the cost of your bills? Have you been inspired by any of these innovations?