It has been said that energy is the lifeblood of our civilisation. The rise of energy production has propelled our civilisation forward. As stated in another post, our civilisation is already past peak oil and probably even past peak water. We must urgently reduce our energy consumption as it produces huge amounts of carbon dioxide which is a large component of climate change and the destruction of ecosystems. Energy costs are rising steadily, and will increase much more over the coming years due to scarcity.
So what can you do?
You can encourage the production of “green energy” by buying it on your electricity. I live off-grid by choice. It was going to cost over $100,000 ten years ago to be connected to mains power. We decided to install a solar energy system, that provides enough for our simple lifestyle, even with 3 to 4 days of heavily overcast weather. Yes, we do have a backup diesel generator for those periods with not enough sunshine, and to run the welder and other high energy consuming appliances. I generally use less that $20 per month on diesel. In the near future, I will be constructing some vertical wind turbines to provide power during windy and normally overcast weather to supplement the solar panels (8 off 125 watts at 24 volts).
You can also install your own solar panels and sell the power generated back into the grid. Many thousands of people do this, and many even receive a cheque at the end of each billing period. You can reduce your energy consumption in your house be turning off appliances at the power point, not just by putting onto standby with the remote control. Sure, they take a little longer to start up, and you need to actually go the power point to switch them (more exercise). You can choose to set your thermostat to 23 or 24C which will generally lower your energy consumption by at least 10%.
Installation of a solar hot water heater with either gas or wood fire backup is also a great money saver. Before installing our current hot water system, we were using a 9kg gas bottle every three weeks for cooking and water heating. Now the same gas bottle is lasting over 2 months. The solar hot water system installed will tolerate down to -15C, and here has to be covered up over summer with shade cloth to prevent the water boiling!
It has been suggested that using electric vehicles is a good idea, and many manufacturers are now providing them. Research has shown, that in many instances, they actually make more pollution and use more energy than traditionally powered vehicles.
The article at http://newmatilda.com/2012/10/04/renewables-will-win-ballot-box demonstrates how important alternative energy sources are now and will be into the future. For me it is disappointing that so many of our great ideas about alternative energy have been swallowed up by oil companies and bureaucracy. White Cliffs in western NSW had one of the first solar powered generating plants in Australia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Cliffs_Solar_Power_Station), but is now grid connected. Australia should be a world leader in alternative energy, but California is, with is super saline systems and salt energy storage systems.
The sun is a great nuclear power station, that in turn creates light and weather systems here on our planet. All alternative energy systems make use of the energy that originates from the sun. I believe that we do not need more nuclear or coal or gas powered generator systems. We have enough sources already, and all that is required is people power and government direction.