Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saving (not wasting) energy

This month's issue of National Geographic publishes a very interesting article about the journey of a family to save energy.  The article is very well written (as one would expect) and very articulately describes the necessary steps the couple took to save energy.

The article commences by describing the fact that average US household uses 150 pounds of CO2 every day.  Europe uses about half (I think it is useless comparing to other countries since developing countries have much different standards of living and climates).  The objective of this couple is to bring down its consumption to 30 pounds a day in just one month.

Needless to say it was not possible (I said needless because I did not expect them to be able to do it.  People can't just cut down commutes one day to another, or magically install efective and cheap  solar panels in their roofs).  After installing new lightbulbs, hiring an "environmental consultant" to help them learn about things like isolating the house so it is less afected by weather, they cut their emissions to about 70 pounds of CO2 a day.  That is a lot.

It seems the approach is not about saving energy.  We have grown used to a way of life that depends on energy.  Polluting is not a choice, is a byproduct of current standards of living.  Wasting, or not, is a choice.  I can decide to leave n products in standby or not.  To walk two blocks of to drive.  To use energy saving lightbulbs or the ones that came with the apartment.  To.. ok, I think I made my point.

pd.  The couple in the article sent its average back to 15o pounds a day because they needed to fly to Oregon (from Virginia).  I did not see that coming.

1 comment:

kbmulloy said...

Yes, while this is true, I feel like a lot of Americans could make choices today that would greatly reduce their energy consumption in the long run. Maybe they could opt not to buy that H2 or buy a house that's more energy efficient. (Most houses in suburbs aren't. They're energy guzzlers.)

The Energy Star website is pretty useful if people want to cut down on their energy use because not only do they offer products that meet their energy requirements, but they also offer an energy profile that gives a breakdown on how much energy an appliance uses. The Energy Star website also gives tips on how to save electricity day to day. It covers most energy using devices in the home or office.

It's going to take a conscious effort day to day to for Americans to reduce their energy consumption. In this fast food/ instant diet country, that's not how most American's live. They want results now and don't want to put in the effort it takes to 'do the right thing.' They also want to buy something off a shelf that solves all of their problems.

One last thing though, I wonder how this couple cut down on their energy consumption. Yes, it's great that we have things you can buy that can reduce your energy consumption, but most of the time it's at a price. For example, the new energy efficient light bulbs contain mercury and need to be disposed of in a recycling center instead of the trash. If these light bulbs are thrown out, the mercury can leach down into the water table if its put in a landfill. Once there's an impurity like that in the water table, it's really hard to get them out. This screws up the land, farm irrigation, and then we have to process our water more before we drink it.