Winning the War for Energy Savings

I was very pleased to read a recent AP-NORC Center poll that said 8 out of 10 Americans called saving energy deeply important to them. I don’t know what the results might have been for the same poll done 25 years ago, but I’d guess that the recent numbers are better.

Could it be that the green movement is finally a staple rather than a passing fad? The signs sure seem to point in that direction. Geopolitical events today, more than ever, show America’s true place in the energy picture.

However, the fact remains that we are customers, and customers have little control over our suppliers. Let’s face it: Does anyone really think that an oil company would pass up profits for shareholders just to make American politicians happy? Not likely.

But we’re not helpless in our energy savings quest. There are many weapons we can use to win the war on energy waste. Everyday devices that use energy, such as light bulbs and refrigerators, have been improved to help you, the consumer, battle energy demons. Clearly we can only fight this war by choice. Talk is very easy, but it results in nothing if not followed by action. As I tell my kids, “Saying it ain’t doing it.”

Do the research, find the resources, and align yourself with people who share your passion for energy conservation. Then we’ll move the needle.

Energy Supply vs. Demand: Why it Pays to be Unglamorous

When we talk about the energy equation, there are really two sides: supply and demand. Supply is the glamorous side with solar, wind, and geothermal as its mainstay. It’s the side of the equation politicians like to point to as they seek re-election. Unfortunately, the supply side remains very expensive, with high up-front expenses and unknown life cycle costs.

Demand, on the other hand, is very unglamorous. Often you never see the things that lower demand, especially in housing. But the demand side is by far the MOST IMPORTANT and LEAST EXPENSIVE way to manage our energy equation. In housing, for instance, lowering demand is often relatively inexpensive, with no life cycle costs. Smart choices in building envelopes can greatly reduce energy demand. In fact, it’s much smarter to focus on demand first and supply second. Why?? Well, once you have your demand at the lowest level, the supply side becomes much more economical to manage. Think half the solar panels, or a third of the wind power needed for a home. Think about a wind farm powering 1,000 homes instead of 100. With lower overall energy demand, these scenarios become possible.