Doing our part in the fight — eliminating our energy dependency from Russia

Juhani Lehtimäki
6 min readMar 6, 2022

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In the wake of the Russian attack in Ukraine the world has changed. We here in Europe are still in relative safety protected by the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian military.

While the Ukrainian heroes are fighting, it is time for us to do our part. Our dependency on fossil fuels and high consumption of them has been feeding money to the Russian war chest the past years. We have effectively enabled Russia to mount this attack on their peaceful neighbour. We must stop feeding them money. Now.

We need a very rapid energy transformation in our society. We’ve done things like this before. In Finnish we have a word “talkoohenki”, which means everyone coming together to do their small part to get something meaningful and impactful achieved. Something no individual could achieve alone. We need European-wide talkoohenki now.

So what can we do as individuals? These thoughts are mainly focusing on us here in Germany but many, no doubt, apply elsewhere as well.

Our housing, heating

We still heat many of our houses with gas and oil here in Germany, especially in Bavaria.

https://twitter.com/barkouni/status/1499694555880472578

Next winter will be cold in houses in Germany. Hopefully, we do the right thing and cut off all oil and gas imports from Russia soon. But even if we don’t, there is little doubt that Russia will use our dependency as a weapon when the weather is getting cold again. We’re on a timer, we have one summer time to prepare. Fortunately, there is a lot we can do!

Insulation is the first step

Whether or not your house is heated with gas or oil, now is the time to make improvements to insulation. The cheapest, and m

ost efficient, way to heat your home is to not let the heat already inside escape.

Actions taken to improve here can be gradual and do not require massive investment in most cases. Start looking into options to improve now. Every bit helps. We will have a limited pool of energy to use next winter and less your house uses, more there is to go around. There are lot of specialist companies who can help you here. Ring them up!

Heat pumps are the future

Heat pumps are not only more efficient than boilers, they do not burn anything directly to provide heat for your home.

Source: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cache/infographs/energy/bloc-2c.html

There is a lot of information about heat pumps online and a lot of companies providing installation services. Most boiler systems can be replaced with heat pumps relatively easily as long as your house is already well insulated. Unfortunately, the systems are still quite costly but with the inevitable raise in oil and heat costs the investment is becoming more and more reasonable. In any case, this is an investment against war. Directly.

Our electricity production, and consumption needs refinement

source: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cache/infographs/energy/bloc-2c.html

Especially in Germany, electricity produced using Russian-sourced fossil fuels in a significant portion. This means that reduction in electricity use is needed while fossil-fuel based heating and transportation is moving to use the grid.

All of us need to take a look in our energy use. Simply turning off devices not in use will have an impact on the total use. In the coming months and years, we all should pay special attention to this. Be mindful of your energy use!

We also need to ask the German government to reconsider their decision on nuclear power, or at least delay the planned shutdowns and possibly even turn some of the recently closed reactors back on. Regardless where you stand on nuclear power, it is clear that in the coming 1–2 years, this power is needed while we’re transforming our society to use alternatives to the fossil fuels bought from Russia. It looks like some initiatives like this are already being made in the German government.

Consider solar panel installations

If you can afford it, and live in a place where solar panels are feasible, consider ordering an installation. While in most places in Europe solar panels alone can’t provide all energy needed in households, especially in wintertime, every bit helps.

The way we commute, transport our stuff

Our transportation is still using huge amounts of oil to move us and our stuff. A huge portion of that oil comes from Russia and is directly contributing towards Russia’s ability to wage war against it neighbouring countries.

Source: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cache/infographs/energy/bloc-2c.html

We have a pool of oil we can use without dipping into Russian oil. If all of us reduce our personal use of oil, more and more of our total consumption can be covered and less companies are tempted by greed of quick profit to buy Russian oil.

Rethink your daily transportation needs

If you drive your car daily, a change in your habits can have a huge impact. In most European cities bicycle infrastructure is reasonable good and is getting better all the time. An investment to a decent e-bike and good biking gear to protect you from wet and cold will cost about 3000 EUR. With this investment you can rely on your bike almost all days around the year. With an ebike you won’t be sweaty when you arrive, nor will you get tired riding up a hill or two.

A bicycle can be one of the most powerful tools to fight our dependency on Russian oil.

When bicycle isn’t an option, please consider using public transit over private car. It might be more inconvenient than driving from door to door, but we need to change our habits in face of the evil our oil use has been enabling in the past years.

Vocalise your support for improved bicycle infrastructure in your city

Even if you do not use bicycle yourself, improved, safe biking infrastructure will get others to see biking as a real alternative for other forms of transportation. Whether it is people leaving their private cars in their garages of leaving more room for others in the public transit system, this is beneficial for all of us. Cities around Europe should immediately invest large sums to perfect their biking biking setup. Citizens should loudly support these efforts with their tax Euros.

Support electric vehicle transition and infrastructure

If you absolutely have to drive, it should be 100% electric. This is much easier said than done. EVs are still expensive and still come with limitations. Not everyone can simply swap their ICE and start driving an EV.

Increasing fuel prices are going to hurt the lower income portions of our population proportionally much more than the middle and high income population. Many of the lower income people do not have an option to work from home, nor can they afford an EV in the short term. They often work in places or occupations which can’t be served with bicycles or public transit. The raising fuel costs are also going to eat proportionally a bigger part of their income. So we cannot demand the same sacrifices from the lower income families we can from the rest. This all puts a bigger onus on the people who can afford the change.

More people buying EVs will speedup the transition in our society. Increased infrastructure becomes more viable business and buying EVs becomes cheaper and more possible for more people. We, who have the possibility, should be ready to deal with the few inconveniences that come with being in the wave of early adopters of new technology. Support the transition needed in our society.

TL:DR, now is time to act, do our part

Think about areas of your life where you can move away from use of fossil fuels and save energy as a whole. Small individual actions lead into big changes in he society. Let’s do our part.

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Juhani Lehtimäki

Dad | Founder, CTO @snappmobile_io | CEO @snappautomotive | GDE, Android | GDG-Android Munich organiser