While writing a new report on Home Energy (see our Free Resources), I read an important article in Time Magazine, Wasting Our Watts. Here are the key messages I took away from this article about this incredibly important energy source … but you'll have to read further to learn what it is!
- Available immediately, surprisingly abundant
- Unlike coal & petroleum, does not pollute
- Unlike nuclear plants, it is safe!
- Unlike solar and wind energy, it is not dependent on the weather
Are Your Ready to Stop Wasting Energy?
Are you ready to stop wasting energy, yes … stop using energy out of habit, and only use it when it's necessary? More precisely, you can consume less energy to get the same amount of heat for your shower, lights for your office and power for your factory. It turns out to be much less expensive, destructive and time-intensive to reduce demand through efficiency than to increase supply through new drilling or new power plants.
Here are the key messages I took away from reading this article (to ready full article, click link above).
- Without the energy saving measures taken after the 1973 energy crisis, the US would use nearly 50% more energy today, which is more than we get from oil today.
- Today's (not future but available today) best techniques “… could save the US half our oil and gas and three-fourths of our electricity.” My husband actually commented on highway lighting that is now off, in areas that it was totally unnecessary as we have our car headlights.
- Obama has pledged to cut 15% of all energy used by the Federal Government, the world's largest consumer. What if we all made a commitment to cut our consumption by 15% over the next few years?
We Need to Stop Waste at Every Point in the Energy Supply Chain
What exactly is the energy supply chain? There's a great diagram below from ETSA Utilities in Australia ,that shows most of the supply chain, although their view is from generating energy to distributing it out to their customers. In fact the energy supply chain starts with mining the raw materials, i.e. coal or oil or gas, and transporting it to the generation stations. The raw materials are converted into electricity which is distributed through a network of high-voltage lines/sub-stations and ultimately the electricity travels to low-voltage lines, which deliver the electricity to our homes and businesses.
There is tremendous waste in the energy supply chain and the US examples from the Times article are summarized here.
- Reduce waste during the power generation process … as the article states “Our power plants waste enough energy to power Japan.”
- Create new standards for energy efficiency to achieve results found elsewhere … as the article states “Our cars, water heaters and industrial motors are still embarrassingly inefficient compared with Japanese and European models.”
- Building codes must be updated to drive the use of more efficient building design and materials, as buyers are reluctant to pay the upfront costs even when the payback is achieved in just 3 to 5 years.
- “Let utilities make money saving energy; … by decoupling electricity profits from sales volume; … a reasonable rate of return on their investments in efficiency improvements for their customers.”
- Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency that can help you get started.