Solar Handbags? Wind Turbines? How to Get Green
LONDON -- The idea of renewable energy at home is no longer as distant as an offshore wind farm. More companies are waking up to the popularity of green energy and the Web hosts many sites showing steps people can take -- or gadgets they can buy -- to use renewable technology, from renting a solar panel to burning calories with a pedal-powered washing machine.
- To make the case for energy efficiency, the European Commission provides a carbon calculator and suggestions on how to cut down on energy use, including tips from celebrities. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/campaign/index_en.htm
- In Australia, the government provides an informative site on green suppliers, appliances and eco-friendly lifestyle options. http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/education/tips/consumers.html
- Going one step further, the Web sites of international charities Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are home to definitive green guides and feature daily tips from members of the public. http://www.greenpeace.org, http://www.foe.co.uk/living/tips/index.html
- For homeowners wanting to make a serious commitment to green power, the U.S. Department of Energy provides useful calculators to add up the savings from devices like solar heaters: http://www.eere.energy.gov
- If buying a solar panel sounds daunting, customers can rent one at http://renu.citizenre.com/ The company says on its Web site that over 5,000 people have already signed up for the scheme in the United States and the manufacturing plant has not even been completed.
- British home improvement store B&Q launched a range of roof-top wind turbines and solar panels in September. The devices, which are available from around 1,500 pounds ($2,923), can be bought at http://www.diy.com
- Customers across the globe can visit http://www.surfacepower.com and find out about total renewable energy systems in the home.
- Even people on online auction site eBay are in on the act, offering solar panels and wind turbines to bidders: http://www.ebay.com
HANDBAGS AT DAWN
- It may not be Prada, but the solar-panelled handbag can recharge mobile phones and music players on the go. Designed by Joe Hynek, the 'power purse' comes with a designer price tag of $300, but is an unusual accessory for the environmentally conscious: http://www.solarjo.com
- Backpackers can also tap into the trend for a fraction of the price thanks to Unison Light, a company which offers solar panel backpacks from around $35: http://www.globalsources.com
- The wind-up radio is still going strong after its invention 12 years ago. The Web site http://www.ethicalsuperstore.com offers wind-up phone chargers and radios from 30 pounds.
- In the home, ambitious environmentalists and health fans can eliminate two chores in one with a pedal-powered washing machine. Details are available at http://cyclean.biz
Energy suppliers are falling over themselves to flag up their green credentials, but switching to a supplier which invests in renewable technology does not always mean customers receive green energy.
- The Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S provides consumers with detailed information on green power investment at http://www.epa.gov/greenpower and encourages companies to show non-renewable energy the door.
- In Europe, www.greenprices.com lists green suppliers and their credentials, making choosing a supplier a breeze. The Web site says that often a simple phone call is enough to switch to eco-friendly power.
Governments can provide backing to green consumers who may be worried about burning a hole in their pocket bigger than the one in the ozone layer.
- State-by-state cash incentives in the United States feature on a database at http://www.dsireusa.org, while in Britain the low-carbon buildings programme offers grants for devices like solar panels and turbines. http://www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk
- On a wider scale, http://www.climatecare.org gives details of how to offset carbon emissions and funding for renewable devices in countries including India.
Links to the Web sites featured in this article, and to other renewable-friendly pages, are available on the social bookmark site http://del.icio.us/reutersrenewables