Green Energy Makes You Cooler

Lexi Harder, Staff Writer

The motivations behind the use of green, or renewable, energy are simple.

Instead of releasing clouds of greenhouse gases into the air that cause the atmosphere to trap heat from the sun more efficiently and melt the polar ice caps, we could be using wind turbines or ocean waves or solar energy to run the planet in a cleanly, renewable manner.
However, the world is so dependent on coal and oil to produce the necessary power to run the planet, making the big-picture switch to more efficient energy a long and expensive one.
The oil industry is so lucrative that large companies are not willing to risk the short-term price that would come with replacing fossil fuels with green energy.

Aside from the fact that burning oil and coal release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, there is the observation that the earth’s reserves of such materials are finite. Once the set amount of such materials is all used up, the human race will be rendered helpless and without energy.

This prospect, although seemingly depressing, is not entirely inevitable. As individuals, there is a surprising number of actions that can be taken to reduce one’s carbon footprint, decisions that are often very easy and require little thought and time.

Small changes that can be made to one’s daily life are deceptively simple. Unplugging things—the tv, laptop charger, desktops, and any other various and sundry household electrical appliances when not in use really does make a difference.

Thinking about how you load the dishwasher and packing it effectively can even end up being more environmentally friendly than washing the dishes by hand.

Buying food locally instead of food that has been shipped from a long way away takes the gas-fueled journey out of the picture.

Setting the household thermostat to a lower temperature in the winter and high temperature in the summer when out of the house makes a huge difference.

While all of the above steps to lessen the individual’s carbon footprint are effective, they don’t necessarily entirely eliminate the use of fossil fuels from daily life.

One family, the Buteras of Lower Merion, took going green to the next logical level—making their house eco-friendly. Run by solar panels, the Buteras’ home does not harm the environment in addition to making the family a little extra money from selling the surplus energy back to the electric companies.

In addition to having a house with power from the sun, the family also utilizes “eco-friendly-er” appliances as well as green lightbulbs.

Although the initial cost of investing in such an endeavor is quite high, the solar panels will eventually pay themselves off (in around twenty years). The Butera family is also on the waiting list for the Nissan Leaf, which is an electric car.

It’s not necessary to take the steps that the Buteras did to become more environmentally conscious.

Will Butera, who is currently a senior at Shipley, says, “Actually, anybody can have a green house just by changing small things and habits. So it’s a little sad that it’s such a big deal, because it’s not that difficult.