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The Garage – Heating
Theoretically it can be said that only a little amount of all solar energy that reaches the surface of the Earth could meet the energy needs of mankind as a whole and thus there should be no shortage. The problem is that we have not yet reached the stage of technological development where solar energy can be harnessed in an ecologically and economically benign manner. Therefore fossil fuels are still being used (gasoline, diesel oil and coal), for electricity production, space heating and transport.
Around 90% of all Icelanders are fortunate enough not to require fossil fuels for space heating or for electricity production. Nevertheless the annual emission of greenhouse gases is around 18 tons/per capita in Iceland which is similar to the US, and energy usage per capita is amongst the highest in Europe. These greenhouse gas emissions are mainly caused by a large fishing fleet and by aluminium smelters and other heavy industrial plants. Even though electricity in Iceland comes mainly from hydropower dams, it does not mean that Icelanders can allow themselves to waste energy. Firstly, electricity costs, secondly hydropower has certain negative environmental consequences and thirdly Icelanders could export more energy than they do today, or use it more creatively if resources were spared and hydropower dams were used more carefully.
All heavy energy intensive industry involves the indirect export of electricity. Electricity is always the product of other energy sources such as hydropower, gasoline, oil or in other countries even nuclear power. If Icelanders were to diminish their usage of energy they could save enough energy to produce hydrogen fuel which hopefully will be used along with other fuels such as methanol and methane for transport in not too many years. This is only a simple example to show how all things are environmentally interconnected. Saving energy in the home not only saves money but also saves the environment for future generations.
Lowering the heat indoors
A common indoor temperature in Iceland is 23-25°C, but research shows that 20°C is optimum temperature indoors, with regard to air quality and comfort of the residents. It should be kept in mind that the cost of space heating goes up by 7% if the indoor temperature is raised by one degree. It is unnecessary to heat as much on sunny days and easy to lower the temperature before going on holiday or leaving the house.
It is a good idea to use the warm waste water from the space heating system to heat up the garage. The cooling effect caused by the garage has to be assessed and then especially how well insulated the garage door is. In some cases it may be unnecessary to heat up the garage at all.
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