Energy Efficiency

A world powered by clean energy is a distant and optimistic dream but one worth imagining anyway.  Reality tells us that clean power will have to gain mass acceptance and implementation in order to even makeup a fraction of the world’s energy demand.  While these new clean technologies are being invented, improved, and scaled up, there is one measure that we can all take that produces immediate results: Energy Efficiency.

Whether you know it or not, many states are offering incentives to homeowners and businesses to improve their energy efficiency in areas such as HVAC, lighting, solar panel installation, and appliance upgrades.  Yes, let me repeat this, the state is offering you money to upgrade to a more efficient furnace, hot water heater, air conditioner, new windows or insulation for your house.  In many cases, the incentive is worth almost half of the cost of the project and will lead to lower energy costs in the future.  Other incentives include a 10 year, 0% interest loan.  That breaks down to about $83 per month, often less than the savings realized through the decreased energy use.  Please see the DSIRE website because many of these offers end December 31st, 2011.

The wait for clean energy does not have to be a passive time.  In fact, one study by McKinsey estimates that if enough people took advantage of these efficiency measures, America could reduce its non-transport energy consumption by 23% by 2020.  These savings would be achieved at minor cost compared to the cost of building new power plants, whether conventional or renewable.  Energy efficiency is not as sexy as green power, but in a time when businesses and citizens are feeling a money crunch, it is simply a smart play.

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2 thoughts on “Energy Efficiency

  1. Excellent article. I want to emphasize that energy efficiency is still the way to go even without a government subsidy. Buying an “Energy Star”-labelled product (refrigerator, laptops, printers, etc.) for the most part pays itself the extra cost back in less than one year.

    But I want to bring up an additional strategy to implement along with energy efficiency and that is energy conservation. Do you really need to use the energy at all? While switching from an incandescent to a CFL will reduce electricity use by 80%, eliminating the light altogether reduces electricity by 100%! Let me share a case study I read on the NYSERDA website, which they took down and I never recorded, so I may be a little off on the facts. A retail furniture store in Syracuse took advantage of a NYSERDA grant to have a lighting audit done for very cheap. Fortunately, they used a very experienced lighting auditor who did not just “count bulbs”, but did a deeper investigation and recommended several fixtures be moved or removed altogether. After all, the idea is to put the light onto their products (the furniture) and have less light in other areas, just enough to enable customers and staff to move around without tripping. The store closed for a couple of weeks for the electricians to do their thing. The owner worried that this may cause them to lose business. Instead, sales went up immediately after opening and maintained the trend further on. Customers liked the furniture they saw (in the “new light”). So the owner not only saved a lot of money in their electric bills, but also increased revenue, too, by addressing both energy efficiency and conservation.

    Marc

  2. Pingback: Melting Ice Caps | Mr. Greenbacks

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