Debate and Discussion

Energy Efficiency
arteestx at 7:07PM, Jan. 6, 2009
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Time has a [url=
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1869224,00.html]cover story this week about energy efficiency that I found very well written and thought provoking. So I wanted to post it here for others to read and consider; I would've added it to the previous discussion about oil, but that's been locked, so I'm putting this into a new thread. Note that this article will probably only be readable for a few weeks before it goes into archives.

Here's a snippet, first dealing with what efficiency means:

Time
…{Energy efficiency} is a simple concept: wasting less energy. Or more precisely, consuming less energy to get the same amount of heat for your shower, light 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….

Now this may sound like Jimmy Carter's 30-year-old plea for us to turn down the heat and put on sweaters or like an eco-lecture nagging us to turn off lights, drive less and otherwise change our behavior to save energy. It would be nice if we did, but that's conservation, not efficiency. We don't have to sacrifice comfort or change routines to get efficient. Doing less with less may be admirable, but efficiency is about doing the same or more with less….

…In fact, we've already started; the Alliance to Save Energy calculates that without the efficiency gains we've made since the last energy crisis, in 1973, our economy would use nearly 50% more energy today. That's more than we get from oil, twice what we get from coal or natural gas and six times what we get from nuclear plants.

But we could save much more. A McKinsey study found that a global effort to boost efficiency with existing technologies could have “spectacular results,” eliminating more than 20% of world energy demand by 2020. Efficiency guru Amory Lovins argues that today's best techniques could save the U.S. half our oil and gas and three-fourths of our electricity. That would mean no more imports from the Middle East, lower utility bills for everyone and a big step off our path toward a hotter planet.

So how do we achieve this efficiency?

Time
There are two basic ways to save energy without deprivation or daily effort. We can use more efficient machinery, like fuel-efficient cars that guzzle less gas, or those pigtailed compact fluorescent lightbulbs that use 75% less power than traditional bulbs, or state-of-the-art refrigerators that are three times as efficient as 1973 models. We can also use machinery more productively. That can be as simple as insulating pipes and ducts, caulking doors and windows and otherwise weatherizing our homes to avoid heating our attics and the outdoors. Or installing motion sensors and programmable thermostats that turn out lights and air conditioners when no one's in the room.

and here's the portion that made me think of our previous conversation about “drill, baby, drill” versus other methods of addressing our energy needs:

Time
…So while everyone pays lip service to efficiency, the political world has focused on expanding drilling for oil and gas, relaxing pollution rules for coal and showering subsidies on nuclear and biofuels as well as less controversial renewables like wind and solar. The Washington consensus has been that we need to do all of the above to solve all our problems — and increase efficiency too — because there's no silver bullet.

But as we enter a new age of economic and environmental limits, not all solutions are created equal. Coal and oil are too dirty. Nuclear and solar are too costly. Wind is our fastest-growing source of new energy, but it's still only some 1% of our supply. Efficiency is the only cost-effective energy source that addresses global warming, energy dependence and volatile prices. It may not be a silver bullet, but it's the best bullet we've got; we shouldn't spend billions on evidently inferior bullets until we've really given this one a shot….

So I just wanted to let people know about this article in case they were interested in learning more. And I imagine we're going to be hearing much more about this in the next few years.

Xolta is not intended for anyone under 18 years old.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:02AM
StaceyMontgomery at 5:42AM, Jan. 7, 2009
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I don't generally read Time, so thanks for pointing to this!

last edited on July 14, 2011 3:55PM
draconia11 at 6:52AM, Jan. 8, 2009
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Awesome that you posted this! I love issues like this.
I really wish that everyone could be as efficient as possible, but sometimes it is just too expensive for the average person to afford. Wind power is a very nice alternative to coal and other fuels though. I have some wind turbines up near my house. They are huge, and I can't even imaging how much power they are creating when the wind gets going in those fields!
I wish i had the money because ! would just get a huge solar panel! I do use those energy efficient light bulbs though. They are nice, and actually affordable now. ^_^
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:14PM
Senshuu at 9:02PM, Jan. 8, 2009
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This is what you hear a lot lately if you pay close attention whenever “energy” issues crop up on the tube/net. Your ears perk up: you think, “oh, maybe a new development? Progress?”

“____ would save energy, but it costs more. Doing little things will help to be more efficient over time.” When you're poor, you kind of compartmentalize it like this, especially after hearing these things a lot. :( But it's good to be reminded 'cause this stuff is serious. Only takes a little to save a lot, really.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:27PM
ozoneocean at 8:38AM, Jan. 9, 2009
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Senshuu
This is what you hear a lot lately if you pay close attention whenever “energy” issues crop up on the tube/net. Your ears perk up: you think, “oh, maybe a new development? Progress?”

“____ would save energy, but it costs more. Doing little things will help to be more efficient over time.” When you're poor, you kind of compartmentalize it like this, especially after hearing these things a lot. :( But it's good to be reminded 'cause this stuff is serious. Only takes a little to save a lot, really.
Exactly my thoughts. We've heard all that before really.
Man, I live like that already! All the bulbs in my house are energy saving, I don't drive, I walk or catch the train, I don't use air conditioning, I take short showers, I save water, I recycle my rubbish as well as repair and reuse old furniture and other things. I don't even have a computer printer so I'm not tempted to waste paper and ink, I have an energy efficient fridge, I don't cook or buy more than I can eat and I don't eat that much, I have a low power TV that I only use for DVDs occasionally, I prefer to sweep rather than vacuum when I can…

And I off-set that a bit with my home computer usage. But even then I turn it off every time I'm not using it, have the monitors shut off automatically etc.

And I live very comfortably because of all that. I have more money to spend on things, I'm healthy, I'm happy, I'm pretty well satisfied with my lot. I'd be happy to pay higher taxes if it meant more money going into renewable energy like Solar and wind.

It's not a hard way to live. On the contrary!
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:33PM
Senshuu at 3:02AM, Jan. 10, 2009
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I really wish I could drive less. There's no real method of transportation from where I live to anywhere else I'd want to go without driving.
I'd also like to get rid of these old energy-guzzling TVs, but I don't really watch TV that much anymore, just my family. >_>
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:27PM
DMH at 5:54PM, Jan. 10, 2009
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ozoneocean
Senshuu
This is what you hear a lot lately if you pay close attention whenever “energy” issues crop up on the tube/net. Your ears perk up: you think, “oh, maybe a new development? Progress?”

“____ would save energy, but it costs more. Doing little things will help to be more efficient over time.” When you're poor, you kind of compartmentalize it like this, especially after hearing these things a lot. :( But it's good to be reminded 'cause this stuff is serious. Only takes a little to save a lot, really.
Exactly my thoughts. We've heard all that before really.
Man, I live like that already! All the bulbs in my house are energy saving, I don't drive, I walk or catch the train, I don't use air conditioning, I take short showers, I save water, I recycle my rubbish as well as repair and reuse old furniture and other things. I don't even have a computer printer so I'm not tempted to waste paper and ink, I have an energy efficient fridge, I don't cook or buy more than I can eat and I don't eat that much, I have a low power TV that I only use for DVDs occasionally, I prefer to sweep rather than vacuum when I can…

And I off-set that a bit with my home computer usage. But even then I turn it off every time I'm not using it, have the monitors shut off automatically etc.

And I live very comfortably because of all that. I have more money to spend on things, I'm healthy, I'm happy, I'm pretty well satisfied with my lot. I'd be happy to pay higher taxes if it meant more money going into renewable energy like Solar and wind.

It's not a hard way to live. On the contrary!

Yeah, I do similar things (I don't drive either). I don't get why people are so afraid of only having the lights on and not fifty million other things.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:12PM
cartoonprofessor at 11:32PM, Jan. 11, 2009
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Being more energy efficient is only part of the answer… in fact, an answer that should not need answering.
We all could have been living off unlimited free or almost free energy for decades if the Powers-that-be would have allowed it.

'They' say that Oil is cheap energy… HAH!
It is exceptionally expensive, particularly to the environment and our health.

'They' say that alternatives like Solar cannot sustain the ‘Base-load’… Bullsh*t!

If set up correctly, a country could supply never-ending energy without ever requiring batteries to store it by using a combination of solar and good ol' H20.

Think about it, every creek and river runs into the sea… water is constantly moving due to gravity. That moving water creates energy. Water mills are incredibly efficient these days… in fact, just a ‘fall’ of 2 meters can supply a regular home with constant 24hr electricity WITHOUT the need for batteries (which are not environmentally sound and do not last). Imagine if only 20% of all the creeks, waterfalls and rivers' energy was harnessed… ENDLESS ENERGY!

But then the coal and iol companies would lose massive profits so the bullsh*t goes on and on.

Sure this would cost a lot to set up… but nowhere near as much as more coal-fired or nuclear power stations.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:36AM

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