Questionnaire: Are You a Fossil Fuel Addict?

If you can answer yes to at least some of the questions you are well on the way to breaking your addiction to fossil fuels – oil, gas and coal – which are rapidly running out and just won’t be an option for the grandchildren of babies born today.

Q1 Do you use Wood for an Open Fire?

Open fires have comforted humans for thousands of years and having a real fire in your own hearth at home is still a real pleasure. But you don’t have to burn coal. Burning logs produced locally and sustainably is a great alternative and these can be used in fuel burning stoves too. Wood tends to burn faster, but leaves less ash afterwards. If you have fast growing trees in your garden, a couple of your winter fires can also be free. Eucalyptus and elderberry bushes and trees are perfect. If you live near a builder’s yard, you can also scrounge free off cuts too. Why not burn some and save space in landfill as well as saving fossil fuels?

Q2 Would you Consider Solar Panels?

There is a financial outlay involved in fitting solar panels but the savings over several years can add up and your overall usage of energy generated using fossil fuels will decrease. Most places in the UK now don’t need planning permission for solar panels and they are becoming more acceptable. We may not have the perfect sunny climate to make them work every day, but they can provide a boost of electricity on sunnier winter days.

Q3 Do you Have a Ground Source Heat Pump?

Most people don’t, it has to be said, but many architects are now putting in ground source heat pumps into new developments and you can do it in an existing house. Essentially, this heating system takes advantage of the fact that the temperature about 30cm below ground is always about 8 degrees, whatever the temperature of the day. This heat can be transferred and collected by a long length of tubing laid under your garden, through which water is passed. The water is warmed and this heat can then be transferred to heat up the house. Underfloor heating systems seem to work best and the house must have excellent insulation.

Q4 Do You Support Wind Farms?

Some people think they are ugly and have all sorts of fears that they will cause house prices to plummet in the local area and will kill birds. There is little evidence that either of these things happen and wind farms are harnessing valuable wind power for electricity generation. More wind farms are now being put offshore, well away from any housing, so they are worthy of support.

Q5 Is Your Energy Provider Using Renewable Fuels?

Some energy providers make more use of renewable energy sources than others. You can check out your supplier of gas and/or electricity on their website, or write or email them to ask about the proportion of their energy that comes from renewable energy sources.

Q6 Do you Maintain Your Central Heating System?

Having a boiler that is 20 years old, only servicing it once every 5 years, never having your radiators checked to see if they are sludged up or if the radiator thermostats work is the perfect way to make your central heating as inefficient as possible. Keep your system well maintained, have your boiler serviced and, if money allows, invest in a more energy efficient boiler. It could pay for itself in 5 years in the amount of money you save on bills.

Q7 Would you Consider a Biofuel Fireplace?

Never heard of one? They are quite new but the idea, when you look into it, is very appealing. Instead of having a traditional fireplace and burning coal or even wood, you can now buy ceramic fires that are contained within glass, either as a decorative glass feature or that look like a sealed fire. They use liquid biofuel, which burns to produce a fire that warms and comforts. It’s also possible to add aromatherapy oils for a perfumed fire. The biofuel used is from plant oils, and is completely renewable.

Q8 Do you Like a Good Wind Up?

You can now buy very good wind up technology, particularly wind up radios and wind up torches. We tend to use torches so infrequently that their batteries are usually flat when we want them. But with a wind up torch with LED lights, a minute or so of turning will produce enough light for emergencies. They can also be ideal of camping.

Eight ways to break your addiction to fossil fuels!