With all the recent talk in the media of exploring the possible use of nuclear energy to overcome our dependence on fossil fuels, isn’t it time we started looking at other options?

Surely the best place to start is looking at reducing our consumption of energy in the first place. There is so much we can do in our own homes to achieve this -“ it’s just a matter of good planning.

First of all your choice of appliances and fixtures will significantly affect the amount of energy your home needs to function.

Low energy light bulbs are now freely available. They are not expensive, have a much longer life than regular light bulbs and will greatly reduce your energy bills.

Select appliances that are as small as possible yet will still meet your needs. Refer to the common energy rating systems to determine which appliances are the most energy efficient and turn off printers, computers, DVD players and stereos instead of leaving them on stand-by.

You should also think about ways to reduce your reliance on artificial heating and cooling. In summer, make sure you are able to open up your home to allow natural ventilation in the evenings.

Ensure that large areas of glass are shaded and use vegetation instead of large areas of paving to help reduce the absorption of heat from the sun around your home.

In winter you should aim to maximise the amount of sunlight that can enter your home and use curtains to reduce heat loss through windows at night. Make sure all windows and doors are well sealed to avoid draughts.

Try to heat only the rooms that you are using. Living areas should be separable from the rest of the home if possible so you only need to heat these areas while they are in use without heat being lost to other rooms.

Remember, hot air rises, so heat sources should be placed near the floor.

More and more people are thinking of ways to supply their own energy sources on-site. Solar or photovoltaic cells are a great way to achieve this.

Although they require an initial outlay, solar power quickly starts to pay for itself. Some people even find they are eventually able to sell power back to the electricity grid.

You will need to get advice on where best to place your solar cells, and how many you will need to fulfill the needs of your household.

Other forms of energy generation, such as wind power, are less common in domestic situations and less likely to be approved by city councils.

However, people with a larger block or in rural area may find that wind power can be a great additional source of energy.

For more information on renewable energy sources and other ways to reduce your dependence on fossil fuels visit the Australian Greenhouse Office website.

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