A traffic light.

5 everyday signs we need to change how we use energy

Oct 11, 2017 - 3min read

During his upcoming talk at WIRED Energy, our managing director Chris Russell will be discussing the future of the energy industry, and how it needs to change to protect both consumers and the environment.

In Chris’s words, we’re at a tipping point. The signs that we need to adapt to a new energy landscape are becoming increasingly clear in our daily lives. They are often small, incremental shifts which are all too easily ignored, but taken together they form a picture that absolutely demands our attention.

The image that’s emerging is of a future that will soon buckle under the weight of our energy demands – unless we find a new model for generating and supplying energy.

Air pollution increasing in cities across the world

air pollution


WHO’s latest figures show global air pollution increased by 8% between 2008-2013 – and coal-burning power stations, diesel farms and non-EV vehicles are all major contributors.

Cities are especially badly affected, and exhibit particularly high rates of chronic respiratory disease. Approximately 160,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with asthma each year; a condition aggravated by airborne particles of pollution. Yet the sight of someone whipping out an asthma inhaler is unremarkable – something we don’t always consider in the context of our collective impact on the environment.

Temperatures rising

temperature headlines


In January 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Met Office and NASA all agreed that 2016 had been the planet’s hottest year ever recorded – and the third year in a row to set new records for global average surface temperatures. Meanwhile, temperatures in the UK have risen by around a degree Celsius since the 1970s.

But you don’t need facts and figures to tell you it’s getting hotter; you get that sense anecdotally, too. It feels like our climate is increasingly defined by extremes and unpredictability, with hotter highs, cooler lows, and a greater prevalence of news reports that we’re heading into the hottest/coldest summer/winter ever. These aren’t just weather events; they’re alarm bells.

Energy price increases

electricity meter


The routine press and public outcry we see around price hikes by big energy companies is – at its most basic level – an indicator of supply and demand. The big energy companies are charging more because there’s less to go around and growing demand.

These market signals also point to a greater environmental impact: spikes in demand are becoming increasingly frequent. It’s why diesel farms need to be switched on to cope with strain on the grid when, for example, several million cups of tea are made during half-time of the FA Cup final. It’s also why we need to shift towards local, renewable energy generation and storage – to enable us to balance the grid.

More electrical appliances

electric appliances


The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy’s figures reveal that domestic consumption of energy in the UK has risen 12% since the 1970s, in large part as a consequence of the soaring number of electrical devices. Smartphones, laptops, tablets and sundry other ‘smart’ devices are increasingly felt to be necessary touchstones of our daily life, and demand for them shows no signs of abating.

What’s heartening is that the increase is not as large as might be expected, particularly given the concurrent 18% increase in population. What this means is that we are also becoming more efficient at consuming energy, and will have to become even more so as we head towards an evermore electronically-powered future.

Renewable energy records

Solar farm

The falling price of renewable energy technologies has led to a year of numerous renewable production records being broken worldwide.

The International Energy Agency announced that two-thirds of the energy added to the world’s grid in 2016 was solar; energy from the UK’s offshore wind farms was, for the first time, cheaper than electricity from new nuclear power; Imperial College London predicted that solar and storage would be cheaper than fossil fuels by 2030, and cause a ‘utility death loop spiral’.

Even more crucially, the decreasing cost of renewable tech is making it more affordable for homeowners to invest in their own microgrid technologies, thereby laying the groundwork for a sustainable energy future powered by local generation and storage.

Make a change with Tonik Energy today.