The Climate Crisis is all about the energy transition. From fossil towards renewable energies. But as it is hard for common people to change where their energy comes from, it is even more important to change the way we use or even better not use it. There are two main approaches to save energy: The first one is simply to consume less. Turn the light off whenever you don’t need it, walk or cycle small distances instead of using the car, etc. The second approach is about using energy as efficient as possible, which is one of the main focuses of the ecovillage “Sieben Linden.” We think energy efficiency is the future because it is not very realistic, that people start to use much fewer tools running with electricity or fossil fuels in our modern lifestyles. And if we can´t do without these tools nowadays, we have the huge task to reduce our energy consumption by using the energy efficiently.
The isolation of buildings is an important factor. All buildings in Sieben Linden are so-called “straw bale houses,” which will be the topic of the blog next month. But let me already mention one thing: straw as isolation material is a highly efficient and extremely eco-friendly alternative to conventional isolators. Thanks to straw isolation and very modern wood gasification ovens, we consume 40% less heating energy as the German average, even if all our water is heated by the wood ovens too. And you can really feel that in your everyday life: even in the coldest German winters it is enough to heat the houses every second day. And in the summer, we don’t need any kind of air conditioning, as the houses stay very cool by themselves.
Another big topic is to use as much renewable energy sources as possible. Almost every roof in Sieben Linden is covered with two different kinds of solar panels. One to produce electricity and the other to heat the water. As we also don’t need street lights etc. and in general save energy wherever possible, our electricity need is only at 30% of the German average.
This incredibly low number also consists of the attempt to use a source of energy in multiple ways at the same time. A classic example is, to dry your clothes with the heat of the oven, instead of using a very energy-consuming dryer. Like this, the oven fulfills two functions at the same time. Heating the house and drying your clothes.
Howsoever, the way we use and consume energy in our homes is really in our hands. You can´t blame the government for not turning off your lights. And by the way, saving energy always saves money as well.
But one thing people are not aware of and that is really out of our hands is the amount of energy the internet consumes. The gigantic amounts of data are processed, ordered, and stored in huge server farms, which are filled with high-end technology and need to be cooled all the time. Such data farms from companies like Google were 2018 already responsible for 5% of the worldwide power consumption. And this number is increasing from year to year, as the internet is growing and growing while it never “forgets”- data are never deleted.
Of course, we are all dependent on the internet but we shouldn’t forget how energy-intensive it is and that we have to find solutions for that.