Survey says: many are still clueless on how to save energy

People turn off lights in vain, ignoring real efficiencies

A survey on perceptions of how to save energy was done. I found this statement int he conclusion of the paper (see link at end of article) to be a double edged sword:

It is therefore vital that public communications about climate change also address misconceptions about energy consumption and savings, so that people can make better decisions for their pocketbooks and the planet.

From a press release by: The Earth Institute at Columbia University

Many Americans believe they can save energy with small behavior changes that actually achieve very little, and severely underestimate the major effects of switching to efficient, currently available technologies, says a new survey of Americans in 34 states. The study, which quizzed people on what they perceived as the most effective way to save energy, appears in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The largest group, nearly 20 percent, cited turning off lights as the best approach—an action that affects energy budgets relatively little. Very few cited buying decisions that experts say would cut U.S. energy consumption dramatically, such as more efficient cars (cited by only 2.8 percent), more efficient appliances (cited by 3.2 percent) or weatherizing homes (cited by 2.1 percent). Previous researchers have concluded that households could reduce their energy consumption some 30 percent by making such choices—all without waiting for new technologies, making big economic sacrifices or losing their sense of well-being.

Lead author Shahzeen Attari, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and the university’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, said multiple factors probably are driving the misperceptions. “When people think of themselves, they may tend to think of what they can do that is cheap and easy at the moment,” she said. On a broader scale, she said, even after years of research, scientists, government, industry and environmental groups may have “failed to communicate” what they know about the potential of investments in technology; instead, they have funded recycling drives and encouraged actions like turning off lights. In general, the people surveyed tend to believe in what Attari calls curtailment. “That is, keeping the same behavior, but doing less of it,” she said. “But switching to efficient technologies generally allows you to maintain your behavior, and save a great deal more energy,” she said. She cited high-efficiency light bulbs, which can be kept on all the time, and still save more than minimizing the use of low-efficiency ones.

Previous studies have indicated that if Americans switched to better household and vehicle technologies, U.S. energy consumption would decline substantially within a decade. Some of the highest-impact decisions, consistently underrated by people surveyed, include driving higher-mileage vehicles, and switching from central air conditioning to room air conditioners. In addition to turning off lights, overrated behaviors included driving more slowly on the highway or unplugging chargers and appliances when not in use. In one of the more egregious misperceptions, according to the survey, people commonly think that using and recycling glass bottles saves a lot of energy; in fact, making a glass container from virgin material uses 40 percent more energy than making an aluminum one—and 2,000 percent more when recycled material is used.

Many side factors may complicate people’s perceptions. For instance, those who identified themselves in the survey as pro-environment tended to have more accurate perceptions. But people who engaged in more energy-conserving behaviors were actually less accurate—possibly a reflection of unrealistic optimism about the actions they personally were choosing to take. On the communications end, one previous study from Duke University has shown that conventional vehicle miles-per-gallon ratings do not really convey how switching from one vehicle to another affects gas consumption (contrary to popular perception, if you do the math, modest mileage improvements to very low-mileage vehicles will save far more gas than inventing vehicles that get astronomically high mileage). Also, said Attari, people typically are willing to take one or two actions to address a perceived problem, but after that, they start to believe they have done all they can, and attention begins to fade. Behavior researchers call this the “single-action bias.” “Of course we should be doing everything we can. But if we’re going to do just one or two things, we should focus on the big energy-saving behaviors,” said Attari. “People are still not aware of what the big savers are.”

###

The other authors of the study are Michael DeKay of Ohio State University; and Cliff Davidson and Wändi Bruine de Bruin of Carnegie Mellon University.

The paper, “Public Perceptions of Energy Consumption and Savings,” is posted at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/08/06/1001509107.full.pdf

Author contact: Shahzeen Attari shahzeen.attari@gmail.com 703-447-3748 http://www.columbia.edu/~sza2106/

More info: Kevin Krajick, science editor, The Earth Institute

kkrajick@ei.columbia.edu 212-854-9729

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118 thoughts on “Survey says: many are still clueless on how to save energy

  1. The re-education classes are scheduled to begin in a few months. Attendance is completely voluntary, and by “voluntary,” of course, we mean “mandatory.”
    Sorry. It’s not that there isn’t a lot of truth in this article, but the overall effect is slightly chilling, especially the assumption that “Of course we should be doing everything we can.” Once it’s established that everyone should do everything he or she can for a particular cause, any lapse becomes heretical and subject to new attempts at “communication.”
    Maybe I’m just cranky today. Well — I am. But maybe it’s affecting me more than normal.

  2. This study maybe supports the claim that much of the activism is not about energy, it is about liberty. It has to be 100% clean, or it is not worth even contemplating. I’m sure this mis-information over the past 10 years adds up to quite a lot of CO2 – at least to the people who are counting.

  3. cheap electricity kind of puts a wet blanket on all of these ideas … so without AGW people would just go back to doing what they want and spending as much as they want to do it …
    can’t have that …
    CO2 bad, rotten lights/half wash laundry/window fan/tiny slow cars good …

  4. “such as more efficient cars (cited by only 2.8 percent), more efficient appliances (cited by 3.2 percent) or weatherizing homes (cited by 2.1 percent). Previous researchers have concluded that households could reduce their energy consumption some 30 percent by making such choices—all without waiting for new technologies, making big economic sacrifices (emphasis mine)”
    Is it possible that the upfront expenditure for “hybrid cars” “energy-star certified windows, doors and installation fees” and “new, efficient appliances and delivery” can be considered what they really are? “Big economic sacrifices.”
    /anecdotal evidence
    Hi! I see you have a 2001 Mercury Sable, with leather and a v6, paid off! That’s great! But if you bought this 2010 Fusion Hybrid for $34k, you would save $800 on gas in the next four years!
    Hi! I see your house already has windows, doors, insulation and a roof. But for ~$30k (the recent cost of renovating MY home,) you can make your summer a living hell of contractors tramping in and out of your house for three whole weeks and save almost $50 per month on your heating or cooling bills! Oh, didn’t fill out those green-subsidy forms correctly? Too bad, but, think of it as a lot of free red tape!
    Hi, I see your refrigerator is functional and well stocked with beer! But if you purchase this new “Kenbore energysupersipper plus refrigerator,” not only will you get to wait around for the delivery guy to show up three hours late, and lose about $250 worth of food (and drive to town to get an extra cooler to save the perishables, plus ice!,) have the guy ram the sharp corner of the refrigerator into one of your cabinets, scratching up the recent refacing job, connect the water line poorly and cause about 20 gallons of water to leak all over your floor.. But you can also save almost FIFTEEN DOLLARS per year on the cost of running your refrigerator!

  5. “such as more efficient cars (cited by only 2.8 percent), more efficient appliances (cited by 3.2 percent) or weatherizing homes (cited by 2.1 percent).”
    All of that involves money, my money. Spending money to upgrade that most of us do not have right now.
    How about jump starting the economy and jobs first, so the bulk of us can afford this crap?
    In the mean time, I’m not buying a new car, buying new appliances, of visiting Home Depot.

  6. It is almost never economically advantageous to replace an existing, functional appliance or piece of equipment with a new, more efficient device. It is frequently, though not always, economically advantageous to replace devices which are no longer functional with more efficient devices.
    Not all energy efficient devices are created equal. For example, some people detest the character and quality of the light provided by compact fluorescent bulbs. Others are too tall or too large to comfortably drive smaller, higher mileage vehicles.
    Typical room air conditioners are not as efficient as central systems. However, for infrequently used rooms, their lower efficiency might well be offset by their very low operating hours, assuming that the rooms they occupy can be isolated.
    An electric “upholstered roller skate” with a 40 mile range may lack the utility required of a family vehicle, particularly for a larger family.
    Some of us would likely have great difficulty adapting to the ascetic life style of an Al Gore, for example. 🙂

  7. Academic studies such as this founder on product cycles. Households on average replace major appliances only every 15 – 20 years, and why not? Quality merchandise currently performs well for near a generation, and at four-figures per pop replacement costs, Nanny Staters’ vaunted energy efficiencies are not cost-effective. To advocate major discretionary outlays in the midst of a major, long-lasting government-instigated recession, amid shriveling real incomes and looming defaults in medical and pension benefits blithely promised over many years, betrays an ignorant and insular mindset heedless of economic circumstance.
    As incremental improvements become available, consumers will choose to implement them via purchases at their discretion, regardless of bloviating eco-freaks who have malevolently sabotaged America’s coal, oil, nuclear-generating capacity for decades. Why not adopt an inverse Cloward-Piven strategy, promoting mass-consumer discontent sufficient to excrete Luddite sociopaths from the body politic forever? Meantime, let climate hysterics and their Green Gang of peculating Warmsters leverage themselves to bankruptcy, pile up unwonted “efficiencies” at their own expense.

  8. I save at least $1000 per year by riding my bicycle everywhere. I ride more than 600 miles per month.
    This includes commuting, shopping and socializing. The only time I get in a vehicle is for long trips, or hauling a lot of stuff. I hate traffic, stop lights, dealing with annoying cops, etc.
    Plus, I love to ride.

  9. I love how “conserve energy” is one of the options.
    I can make up a survey that is just as awesome:
    What is the most effective way to save the Polar Bears?
    – Eat less bear
    – Save the bears
    – Avoid buying sealskin boots
    – Drive a hybrid car
    – Read a poem about bears
    – There is no way! They are doomed!

  10. Is it really energy that must be saved?
    If people think that it is, then it’s quite simple. Switch off all the lights. Switch off all appliances. Switch off the heating. Walk everywhere.
    But then you will realise, if you don’t know already, that all these various things actually do more than just burn energy. Lighting helps people to see. Heaters keep people warm. Washing machines and driers clean things. Ovens cook food.
    One simple way of thinking about this is to ask: how much more work would I have to do without some appliance? How difficult would life be without light? How much longer would it take to do something simple like walk up and down stairs? Go and try it. Use a stopwatch to measure it. Do the same with a washing machine. Find out how long it takes to wash clothes by hand. Find out how long it takes to put clothes through a wringer, and then hang them on a washing line. Measure it with a stopwatch. Then see what life is like if you turn of the heating, and put on more clothes. Make an estimate of how long you spend shivering, how long for your frozen fingers to write a few words on a piece of paper, or open a jar.
    When you’ve done all this, you’ll probably find that lights and appliances and heating and cars all save time and work. They free people to some greater or lesser extent. And that’s what people gain from using these appliances. The energy cost of using them is what they lose. And that energy cost is paid in money earned at work.
    All these devices cost something (energy or money or work or time), but they also gain something (time). If they gain more more their users than they cost, they’re worth using.
    Simply ‘saving energy’ ignores the value of the various devices or appliances being used, and it’s a false economy.

  11. Better communications could start with the Columbia press release. I was left still wondering what we are talking about quantitatively in terms of savings with these various choices – even with the help of their crazy graph. Oh and you need a PhD to ask these stupid questions?

  12. I prefer the obvious solution. That is, include basic science and arithmetic in public school curricula. What is a Watt? What is a Watt-hour? What’s the price of a Kilowatt-hour? How many Watts and what is the duty cycle of typical household stuff? Now add them together and get a sum.
    And get rid of the stupid packaging of light bulbs! It doesn’t matter what the incandescent equivalent of a twisty bulb is. That is worse than worthless for estimating power consumption and savings. Lumens output and Lumens/Watt are really not that hard to understand or compare.
    Except, of course, an educated public would see through the baloney message that human generated CO2 will cause global climate catastrophe. Democracy requires an informed electorate, and that includes critical thought. Also known as skepticism.

  13. And while we’re at it, we should get rid of central heating systems and put pellet stoves in every room. And just think how much water is being wasted due to central plumbing. People will cut back when they have to pump their own water. Out Houses were good enough for Abe Lincoln and they’re good enough for me!

  14. Dear Earth Institute at Columbia University:
    Thank you for explaining to me the myriad ways I (along with my friends) can increase energy use, in order to take advantage of the excess capacity created by a few dozen others making their lives more inconvenient in the mistaken belief that they are “saving the planet”.
    PS. The 1958 washer/dryer set I bought off Ebay are especially good at washing and drying. The last few I’ve bought from the 80s and 90s, while “efficient”, were just crap.
    PPS: maintaining older equipment is ALWAYS more efficient than throwing it away and building new equipment, no matter how much “more” efficient it might appear.
    PPSS: The new car I got last year, while “new” and supposedly so much “more efficient” actually gets WORSE mileage than my 87. It’s heavier, boxier and less aerodynamic. Luckily they offset that by giving it almost twice the power. I love technology!
    Signed:
    An Albertan who despises yuppie scum greens.

  15. I had a washing machine, refrigerator and stove that I bought second hand for a total of about $200 in 1975. I gave it away to a neighbour’s son in 1995 still chuffing, purring and ticking. I’ve bought several sets since then and had nothing but trouble with them. After the Maytag man died of boredom, the whole world of appliances found ways to increase the price out of sight for junk that won’t last 5 years. Nevermind how little energy they burn in their short miserable lives, how efficient is it to have to replace them so frequently? Man I wish I could get a big grant to insulate myself from the real concerns of the real world.

  16. Have you looked at the questions?
    “Subsequently, participants ranked the amount of energy needed to
    transport 1 ton of goods for 1 mile by truck, train, ship, and airplane. They also
    ranked the energy used to make a can from virgin aluminum, a can from
    recycled aluminum, a bottle from virgin glass, and a bottle from recycled glass.”
    Can I phone a friend?
    The report is riddled with references to Climate Change and Global Warming. The first sentence states, unequivocally:
    “Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are contributing to global climate
    change and could negatively impact our way of life if serious action is further delayed.”
    Had to laugh at this statement:
    “Although it may be appropriate to criticize the media for not presenting the case for climate change more strongly and for not presenting the implications of individual behavior more clearly….”
    I dread to think what the media would be like if they pushed AGW alarmism even more strongly! It’s pretty unbearable already.

  17. Among those who are clueless are the authors of this report. For example, the claim that “high efficiency light bulbs” save energy is often false. One of the reasons is that the supposed equivalence of 20W CFLs with 100W incandescents is a fraud. Subjectively, it takes more like 40W of CFL – and even then only if they’re left on for long periods. I suspect that one of the reasons is their poor spectrum, messing up the appearance of coloured objects in the domestic environment.
    In my home I have utilised CFLs in two locations – kitchen and landing. In both they have increased my power usage by a factor of two to three. Since the landing didn’t need a bright light, the 20W CFL was adequate, but had to be left on from dusk to bedtime. I have since reverted to a long-life 100W incandescent. In the kitchen, where I installed 6x11W CFLs to replace old 2×3′ fluorescent lights I could no longer obtain, the start-up light was so poor I had to add a 100W incandescent there too. Net effect, a considerably higher power usage!

  18. I’m doing my part by not attending any Sheryl Crow concerts……. 🙂
    But seriously, I like the whole efficiency thing……because I suspect the eco zealot movement may one day make distributed energy hideously expensive, and simply because I don’t like paying the power company even now.
    Some things I do for comfort.
    I used CFL’s in the garage so I wouldn’t have to add additional circuits. I run 3X150W CFL’s where I previously was limited to 3X60W incandescent. Much more light, less consumption, no electrician bill.
    Home Depot has a product called “Reflectix”. Not too expensive, and a very effective heat barrier, similar to space blanket. I’d like to insulate the underside of my floors so the tile won’t be so cold in the Winter.
    But I was very pleased to read about a number of coal plants being built. We need the energy. Dig, baby, Dig.
    http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/2010/08/17/ap-report-old-style-coal-plants-expanding/comment-page-1/#comment-47840

  19. I wonder how this sort of survey would go in England, where pretty much all the houses are double glazed and well insulated, we use efficient gas boilers, diesel cars are nearly as common as petrol, most people only travel small distances to work, public transport is fairly heavily used, renewable energy is getting a good start, electricity is expensive (so encouraging efficient appliances), fuel is expensive (so encouraging efficient cars and less driving)…
    Sometimes I wonder what exactly we’re going to do to become more efficient – most of the low-hanging fruit seems to be gone.

  20. I have a very old car, a Peugeot 405 Diesel break from 1991. It still runs fine, no problems. It runs at 20 km/l diesel when driven with a soft foot. Old technology, nothing fancy, but very economic. A Prius with all its sophistication, will have a hard day to beat this dinosaur.

  21. I doubt that compact fluorescents achieve the savings vs. incandescents in the typical home that their efficiency suggests. When do you tend to have lights on? At night and in winter, times when it tends to be colder. All that energy that GLS incandescent lamps put out as heat reduces the space heating that is needed at night and in cold weather, i.e. a lot of the time it isn’t wasted energy.

  22. I trained as a Building Energy Rater a few years ago and one of the things that struck me about the scheme was there was no way to quantify the cost/benefit of the various energy saving improvements, so while you could give the person an “energy rating”, like the one you see on appliances, and even give them a “carbon emissions rating”, you couldn’t tell them Do A, it will cost you B, and you’ll save C over a period of D years. I think the reason was because if it was actually quantified, a lot of the solutions would never have paid back their costs.
    This report seems to do the same thing, chiding people for their choices, yet not outlining the material benefits, in dollar terms, that their actions will bring.
    P.S. Insulation, if you live North of 50 Latitude, gives the best cost/benefit.

  23. stevengoddard says:
    August 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm
    I save at least $1000 per year by riding my bicycle everywhere. I ride more than 600 miles per month.
    This includes commuting, shopping and socializing. The only time I get in a vehicle is for long trips, or hauling a lot of stuff. I hate traffic, stop lights, dealing with annoying cops, etc.
    Plus, I love to ride.
    I live in Northern Michigan some 72 miles from my job. Plus riding a bike in 12 inches of white stuff is difficult. The chains are bumpy. I envy you on being able to do that. But I do have a lawn mower that has rotary blades that I have to push around. No CO2 from it. Except I breath harder so it may come out even.

  24. Paul,
    I have replaced all my 240 volt GU10 halogen light bulbs with LED based products. They were horribly expensive, and could not be dimmed by regular dimmers. So I also replaced the dimmers. Total investment: 1000 US$. I only hope they (the LEDs) will fulfill their life expectancy of 50 years. The first two have already been destroyed, probably to voltage spikes on the utility net.

  25. I noticed one of the behavior categories was “Not have children”. Maybe I’m being paranoid, but that sounds like, to me, a population control idea. Reduce your environmental impact by reducing the human population. This whole study just seems to be a Gaia-worshiping manifesto.

  26. I can sympathize with the findings to a certain extent. I own some rental property on the side, and every summer some tenants will complain about their electric bills which they pay and which I have nothing to do with and no control over. (this is in Texas, btw) And I tell them over and over – AC, AC, AC – your electric bill in the summer is all AC.
    And yet even after telling them this I will go by and see that they leave their AC units running at full cool all day long, even though no one is home! And I tell them fine, if you want to pay a lot to keep your furniture cold while you’re gone, fine, just be aware of where your money is going.
    Personally I never turn my thermostat below 81 in the summer.

  27. Will people never learn?
    Not with the current teachers.
    And what’s with “current”?
    The teachers are incapable of a response, certainly not to the standard required by the UK IEE, the professional body that dictates (e,g.) what can and cannot be installed in your home (obviously in the UK).

  28. The press release is misleading. In it they state the following:
    “The largest group, nearly 20 percent, cited turning off lights as the best approach—an action that affects energy budgets relatively little.”
    And that assertion relates to the last sentence in the previous paragraph:
    “The study, which quizzed people on what they perceived as the most effective way to save energy, appears in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”
    But, according to the paper, the question asked (which elicited numbers such as 20% for turning off lights) is right at the top of the table: “Categorized responses to an open-ended question about the single most effective thing that participants
    could do to conserve energy in their lives. “This is described in an even more personal way in the Survey Materials section of the paper: “At the beginning of the survey, participants answered an open-ended question about the most effective thing they could do to conserve energy in their life.”
    Anyone who drives a very efficient car, already clotheslines their wash, and/or lives in a home meeting current code for energy efficiency (whether a new home or rehab’d over the 25 years that the government has pushed it through credits, grants or tax reductions), is not going to consider these options as things they could do. And as others, above, have noted no one “could” do something, if doing so is financially prohibitive.
    Now I haven’t skimmed the paper to see if these scientists asked clarifying questions to put this first question in perspective, but I doubt they did. I hope taxpayer money is not involved because this has the rank smell of incompetence.

  29. What seems to be forgotten is that the amount of energy you save, for example, going to flourescent lights, is a function of latitude. The further you go from the equator, the less energy you save. Here in Canada, most of the time we have out lights on, we are also heating our houses. Any energy “wasted” by incandescent bulbs, merely goes to heat the house. When you get to Florida or Southern California, not only are you not heating houses most of the time when you have lights on, you may also may be running air conditioners. So there is a double whammy; the heat from the incandescent, and then the electricity to drive the air conditioner to get rid of the heat.

  30. The discussion about saving energy alone is “green propaganda”.
    Besides that, those who lowered their monthly bill were punished with higher electricity rates.

  31. CFLs work pretty good for reading if you go to Home Depot and by a Y adapter so you can put two CFLs in the lamp.

  32. Why didn’t “not have children” make the graph? I guess the lead time is too long, but sheesh, the most polluting thing you can do (on average, at least) is have children! Especially children who go on to have more children.
    I’ve long thought if high schools taught spreadsheets by including a section on the cost of a kid, there’d be fewer teen pregnancies.

  33. Another problem with CFLs is that they operate at a low power factor (ratio of watts to VA) and so even though they might only draw say 10W of real power – which shows up on your electricity bill, the total apparent power they demand is pretty high. This apparent power (VA) still has to be generated by the power company and transmitted. Its just that you are not billed for it. Old incandescent bulbs are essentially pure resistors and so consume only real power (watts) – there’s no hidden extras. The CFLs also contain mercury which ends up in landfills. They are just another incredibly stupid “green” solution to a non-existent problem.

  34. Old habits die hard.
    Some of us were schooled on the knees of parents and grandparents who grew up when the only thing electricty was used for was to light the house. So the biggest savings for them (insulation was still a thing for the future since energy was so cheap) was to turn off the lights.
    I am not that old (mid 50s), but that is how I was raised. We had one TV – B&W, and nothing else electric (no AC, heat was oil, hot water was gas as was cooking). We turned off lights. I still do today out of habit. That does not mean I do not know the value of insulation and economy cars. Just that turning off lights is ingrained to me. if you ask me for a quick response, I would have said the same. If you wanted me to write down a thoughtful response, I would have come up with the high dollar ones.

  35. In the table, is the best top or last? I mean, should i turn off lights, or do “There is no way/I don’t know”? And how do i do that?

  36. Some ideas for saving energy put forward by warmists are absolutely brilliant because they reduce bills, but are so loaded with the AGW agenda that I don’t think I’m the only one who feels alienated. The question also arises of how much money is actually saved, given that prices for utilities are artificially inflated to try to influence behaviour change. The only behaviour they’ll end up changing is at the ballot-box.

  37. Ric Werme says:
    August 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm
    “Why didn’t “not have children” make the graph? I guess the lead time is too long, but sheesh, the most polluting thing you can do (on average, at least) is have children! Especially children who go on to have more children.”
    You’re wrong, Ric. As soon as you have a new kid your energy usage per capita goes down by up to 33% percent. The effect gets smaller with each new kid but should still be measurable. Furthermore, your income per capita also goes down, preventing you from polluting as much as your kidless neighbour.

  38. Steven Goddard says:
    I save at least $1000 per year by riding my bicycle everywhere. I ride more than 600 miles per month.
    I think you should check your “personal” fuel bills. I cycled to university when I was a student (about the same number of miles as you) until I realised that I could not afford it. At 15 miles per hour I was consuming about 300 extra calories per hour. Your 600 miles would expend about 12000 extra calories, which is about 5 days extra food in a month. I bought a small car for £30 which did 40 miles per gallon which was 15p per gallon at the time! The car lasted me the year and the petrol cost in that year was £30. I could not buy 60 days of extra food for £60 so the decision was obvious. If you calculate the energy needed to provide that food it will surely exceed the energy in the petrol.
    However, if you cycle for fitness and you would wish to expend those extra calories for health reasons then your saving is real. Indeed you save on petrol and you save on the gym memership!
    Personally I am all in favour of reducing energy consumption by banning all activities that involve hard work. I am willing to make this sacrifice in the interest of saving the planet.

  39. If the only target of energy efficiency is the consumer, then 2/3 of the equation sits idle.
    But the consumer is too often at the mercy of getting the longest life out of what commercial sold them.
    Then there is outdoor lighting which sits on top as 10% .

  40. You’ll get my electric dishwasher away from me when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers!
    Reply: We’ll sneak it out while you’re engaged in a WoW raid. ~ ctm

  41. It is an 80 mile round trip to drive to the yacht club to sail. My diesel auxilliary uses very little fuel. The boat has a/c and uses propane for cooking. It is docked in the water so it is not hauled but once a year.
    We have 2 types of fireplaces and gas furnace. We have a clothesline and raised the kids with cloth diapers except when away from home. We raise some grain and many vegies. I bought a New Harley Davidson and Trek at the same time. I put more miles on the Trek bike.
    I notice all the self adoration about carbon virtues and tips.
    Can’t do the Sheryl Crow deal with single sheet of tp and flush only solids. We bathe daily. We should have chickens to eat table scraps. My architectural engineer says to hold off on LED lighting. The payoff is not there.

  42. Interesting comments . As regards air conditioning , whether you leave it on all day really depends on where you live . If you live in a hot but relatively dry environment , then a/c for individual rooms and /or turning off the a/c when you’re out makes sense . However , in fiercely humid climes mold and mildew are major problems , so one has to leave the a/c on constantly to help dry the air inside during the summer . The same is true with heat in winter . Here on the coast of GA , the humidity will defeat even the most stringent efforts at energy efficiency via caulking , insulation , double paned windows etc .

  43. Well as usual, the propaganda is all pushing us in the direction of giving up freedom.
    Hey if I wanted to live in a third world country; I would choose one and move there.
    So what is this winter/summer thermostat business ? In my house; the air conditionere is turned OFF no matter what the thermostat says; moreover it never ever has been turned on in all the time I have lived in the house. And the central heater is turned off until my wife nags me to go and light the pilot; she doesn’t know it doesn’t have one, so I go out and turn the heater on; and it gets turned OFF when we go to bed. She has a radiant heater to use in the morning when she gets up to go to school (in the winter); and a two foot pile of blankets replaces the heater during the night. I have CFLs everywhere theyw ill fit; simply because they last longer; but they do give lousy light. And I know how to do my daily ablutions with less water than most people know how to make a pot of tea with. But that is about saving water which we don’t have in California; excuse me; that’s we don’t have water in Northern California; even though it only rains in Northern California.
    And my work computer goes OFF before I leave for home; and the monitor goes off , if I quite typing furiously, since the Demon switch sits right adjacent to my Mouse, so if it can’t detect me mousing it sometimes turns off. Well none of this affects my life style in any way
    All this biking and walking thing is misdirected; but I walk and bike all the time. Bike when my carblows up and goes into the shop; which is far more energy efficient than buying something newer than 15 years old; well my newest car is only 13 years old.
    Walking sues up a lot of shoes, and calls for me to eat more food. It takes less food to push on the accelerator pedal; than to walk; but I walk some palces where my wife won’t even try to drive.
    So my sister in law has an electric/gas bill that is maybe 20 times what mine is; but when I visit them; I don’t turn off all the lights in the rooms where nobody is.
    So it’s all a question of habit; and it so happens that my chosen way to live is somewhat sparse, in terms of energy usage; but I don’t even have to work at it.
    So I gather acorns from all the oak trees around the plant I work at, and I plant them somewhere on the grounds. The squirrels seem to find most of them; but for some strange reason, the number of trees on the property keeps going up; so I guess I am winning over the Squirrels.

  44. I’d like to see this table in terms of things people are likely to do, not what is best to do. The world will have to become a miserable hot place before I rip the siding off my house to re-insulate, and hang the wash? Right – that could happen.
    However – I did buy an efficient TV, an efficient AC unit, replaced all the incandescent bulbs for poisonous mercury vapor lamps, and I quit using briquettes and now use a propane BBQ to cook my flatulent bovine tissue.

  45. The biggest BS is the statement “save energy to save money”. The next time your local electric company goes for a rate hike because they are not selling enough “product” remind them of their advertisement.
    As electric company sell less product, their cost per unit goes up not down.

  46. It would have been interesting to see the difference in energy required to wash dishes with a dishwasher or by hand. I suspect ‘by hand’ is more wasteful because of the increased amount of water that must be treated.
    Just a guess though. I’m sticking with the dishwasher :).

  47. What I have done is the following:
    I made and inventarisation of of all equipment connected to the eletrical grid.
    I lokked at the ratings, and made an estimate of how many hours they were actice per day.
    All data entered into Excel, and started to look at the effects.
    It was soon obvious that my garden pond pump, along with the pumps for the low temperature floor heating, were responsible for 30% of my consumption of electricity.
    It was an easy saving.
    Next savings are much harder to achieve.

  48. Efficiency is generally a good thing. However, most people, including the authors of this paper, are woefully ignorant of economics and are incapable of assessing true costs as some have suggested above. All of this green stuff is a combination of the religious and the desire for state control of everything. Me, I’m so tired of all this nonsense that I won’t even buy green bananas.

  49. A large cruise ship consumes 1 gal of fuel to move 30-40 feet. And that’s an efficient one. They can hold up to a million gallons…
    How many Hummers is that?
    Pure, unadulterated waste.

  50. Limo liberal idea of saving energy:
    I want you to save energy so I don’t have to.

  51. I have gone to a smaller 2 seater to drive than my large Ford SUV.
    Of course, I think my gas mileage does suffer when I pop the top on this ’77’ Corvette for a drive through the mountains.
    Its tough, but everyone does need to do their part.

  52. I learned some time ago that fluorescents do save money over incandescents, provided you don’t turn them off and on. With their magnetic ballasts, the start-up surges will eat your savings. So if it is a light that’s always on, then fluorescent is a good choice. Otherwise…
    Yes, I well know there are different ballast types than magnetic these days. I also know the average lifespan of electronic solid-state ballasts is pitiful compared to those old-fashioned magnetic ones while the per unit costs are higher. I have also replaced two electronic ignition transformers on new oil furnaces that failed within only a few years, with dependable copper and iron transformers that should last at least a decade.
    And from an electrical standpoint, electronic switching power supplies are horrible things that introduce strange harmonic currents to a building’s power system because they are non-linear loads. There are examples where the switch was made to “money saving” electronic ballasts in office buildings, which resulted in the neutrals becoming overheated and even melting. Thus there are now “super neutral” electrical cables with an oversized neutral to handle the issue.
    This isn’t an issue with residential electric services yet, as the normal minimum for new electrical services of 200 Amps (US, 120/240 Volt single phase) is rather large compared to the expected current usage, while commercial installations are more closely sized to demand based on equipment and installation costs. But there are still lots of homes with old wiring and old services that are inadequate compared to modern electrical standards, some as low as 30A 120V (with gas-powered appliances like stoves, clothes dryers, and water heaters). And I’m wondering how many home fires we’ll see attributed to “faulty wiring” after a “money-saving upgrade” to “modern efficient” devices like curly lightbulbs with electronic ballasts.

  53. old construction worker says:
    August 17, 2010 at 2:50 pm
    The next time your local electric company goes for a rate hike because they are not selling enough “product” remind them of their advertisement.

    They get thier money out of us whether we turn things off or not.
    If we used zero electricity, then they would get $$$ out of us by running more outdoor lighting, in the name of ‘public safety’, thence getting the property taxes jacked up. For those that don’t own, rents will rise to meet the challenge.
    It’s a game where we the people have little incentive or choice. Amazingly enough, we all cut back when last they made the call, but it did no good. They sold us throwaway gadgets with ‘standby modes’ and clocks in everything. Does your coffee pot really need a clock?
    Such a vicious cycle.

  54. If what many predict comes to pass, and the UK starts having brown-outs because of a lack of new fossil fuel power plants and a reliance upon wind, I wonder what happens to all those marvellous (expensive, and polluting) florescent light bulbs they have been forced to buy by law? They really don’t like drops in voltages as you get with dimmer switches, for example. Brown-outs (and such a shame Gordon is no longer there to take the flack) could become blackouts really quickly!

  55. RE: “Many Americans believe they can save energy with small behavior changes that actually achieve very little…”
    I still remember the case of a poor woman living in an electrically heated apartment citing all the things she did in an attempt to reduce her winter electric bill: setting the thermostat to the coldest temperature she could tolerate, never using her TV set, and otherwise avoiding the use of electricity as much as possible.
    It occurred to me that as long as electricity was required to heat her home, once she set her thermostat; it would call for extra electricity to replace most of the energy she saved by her other sacrifices as long as the heat created would be dissipated inside her home. One hundred watts extra from your *electric* furnace or one hundred watts from the TV set would have about the same heating effect and cost.
    After replacing all my incandescent lights with the new fluorescent types, I now find that I must return from ‘AC’ to ‘Heat’ mode in the summer at night when before I could usually leave my thermal control system in ‘AC’ mode all summer.

  56. The trouble is there is no honest information out there, hybrids can use less gas but their whole life footprint is worse than a conventional turbo diesel,, CFLs are cheap to run in maybe 50% of locations, they cannot compete with a halogen lamp fitted with a dimmer, and the enviromental cost of the mercury in the CFL??????? windmills and solar panels, they are a con, so where does this leave their list?

  57. I drive either of 2 Geo Metro automobiles on the property: a 2000 car that gets 44 mpg, or a ratty-looking 1991 car that still gets 54 mpg. Those cars, I believe, are no longer made; too bad. I have recycled for 40 years, while wondering how effective it is. The fact is that what we save, and how, is still a personal choice, and needs to stay that way if this is to remain a free country. There is nothing wrong with conserving, living economically, and all the rest; but we do it by choice, not compulsion.

  58. There is no better energy consultant/adviser/watchdog than your mother. Mine put all the greenie weenies to shame.
    Turn off the lights you’re wasting electricity!
    Leave the water in the tub for your brother (when younger)
    Five minute showers is plenty (when a teenager)
    Don’t run the water so much (or hot) when rinsing the dishes
    No you can’t borrow the car, use your bike or walk
    Turn the TV off and go outside and play
    If you’re cold, put on a sweater
    Other notables:
    Reuse towels after showers/baths
    Hang clothes on the line to dry
    Reuse lunch bags over and over…..oh and wax paper too
    Dad wasn’t too bad either:
    Want a car? Get a job……
    Want to borrow the car? No problem, get a job……
    Too many things to list.
    Now that I think of it, neither one of them ever mentioned a word about saving the planet, polar bears or watching their carbon footprints.

  59. Any woman who buys into this stuff should have her head examined. Electricity and the availability of household appliances has done more to liberate women and give us the opportunity to get an education and work outside the home than anything else. I surely would not have time in my day to go to school if I had to wash clothes by hand, hang them to dry, iron them with a fire heated flat iron, heat water over a fire to wash the dishes, etc. etc. etc. and so forth! Not to mention beat the rugs, sew clothes by hand, and do all of it by daylight because it would be too dark at night. Oh and nighttime lighting–gas and oil lamps are dirty and have to be cleaned by hand every day–another time consuming chore. I fell truly blessed to live in a time when I have lots more opportunities than my grandmother.

  60. Turobodiesel guy here. I cannot see how hybrids can even be sound just from the Batteries alone. I don’t use A/C just a swamp cooler, but I live in a very dry climate.
    Wife lived that “back to nature” lifestyle with her Elk River hippie ex. You will pry her dryer out of her cold,dead,fingers….

  61. DirkH says:
    August 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Ric Werme says:
    August 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm
    “Why didn’t “not have children” make the graph? I guess the lead time is too long, but sheesh, the most polluting thing you can do (on average, at least) is have children! Especially children who go on to have more children.”
    You’re wrong, Ric. As soon as you have a new kid your energy usage per capita goes down by up to 33% percent. The effect gets smaller with each new kid but should still be measurable. Furthermore, your income per capita also goes down, preventing you from polluting as much as your kidless neighbour.

    Hmm. Good points. Kid is in college now. I don’t think I’m polluting at all for another couple of years!

  62. “Previous studies have indicated that if Americans switched to better household and vehicle technologies, U.S. energy consumption would decline substantially within a decade. ”
    The efficiences that we’ve bought have paid or will pay for themselves, and bring relatively significant savings over time. We live in North Texas, and it’s been a damn hot August but we keep our house cool (74F) without going broke.
    We added solar screens three years ago ($700), and they’ve already paid for themselves. This spring we put radiant barrier (foil, not spray-on) and add’l insulation in the attic ($1700), and we should recoup that money in energy savings in 18-24 months.
    I traded my 2005 F-150 (15mpg) for a 2006 Escape Hybrid (30mpg), and with the relative values of the two vehicles, that was a lateral move. Admittedly, it’s less fun living in Texas without the truck, but I’m saving about $75-100/month in gas.

  63. Here in Australia someone did a survey and found that those who identified themselves as “green” were more likely to drive a big 4WD (so they could enjoy the environment I suppose) and more likely to do major overseas holidays (to watch Alaskan glaciers melt). Just maybe it would be better for the planet if these people stopped being “green” and just left their lights on.

  64. I’ve really enjoyed most of the comments here. I don’t have much of an economics background but as an engineer I’m familiar with evaluating the business case for capital equipment replacement. Which, let’s face it, is what the average family is doing when replacing a major appliance or car.
    I know people who replaced their relatively efficient older cars with brand new hybrids back in ’08 when gas prices were through the roof. They ate depreciation costs in the many thousands of dollars to save a few hundred per year in gas. As stated above several times, it almost always makes better financial sense to repair an item than to replace it.
    The current political atmosphere in the US has motivated me to reread the history of the Founding Fathers and the buildup to the Revolution. The recurring theme of that era is liberty, something that I rarely even hear about anymore. I’m sick of the green movement’s infringement on my liberty. I resent the idea that I’m supposed to somehow feel guilty about using “real” light bulbs or driving my car to the store. I resent having limited products to choose from because of the green agenda. I’m irritated with the fact that many of the products I enjoy are marketed as “green friendly” when I don’t give a rat’s a$$ either way.
    I’m not a wasteful person but too much of the green agenda is based on establishing the authority to tell me how to live my life. Up until the last election I guess I figured we would never get far enough down that road to worry about it. Now I’m afraid we’ve let them get too far already.
    Sorry to rant, but the green nanny state mentality is a sore spot for me. In the end, I take solace in the fact that we have the Second Amendment in case they forget about all the others. All that money I saved by not buying a Prius will buy a lot of ammo.

  65. An excellent article highlighting where real savings can be made – but why is the graph supporting this paper using a logarithmic vertical scale?? Surely the real savings would show far better when expressed in linear format
    Andy

  66. I have seen a lot of comments about the high fuel economy of older vehicles. There is a reason why old cars get better mileage, it is because they are lighter. Why are they lighter? Because they have less safety features and less luxuries. My dad’s 1994 Honda Accord with over 250,000 miles on it gets 50 MPG with its putt-putt engine and a manual transmission (Shifting gears is a joy in a Honda.) Maybe you are different, but the first thing I look at when choosing a vehicle is the safety rating. If I had to choose between fuel economy and safety, I choose safety every time.

  67. “…in fact, making a glass container from virgin material uses 40 percent more energy than making an aluminum one—and 2,000 percent more when recycled material is used.”
    Anthony, you seem to indicate that making something from recycled glass requires 50 times the energy of making the same item from virgin glass. No doubt there is some truth in what you say, __but 50 times? What is the source of this claim?
    If this is figure is accurate then all the municipal drives to collect and sell used glass containers to industry must be a sham. No industry in its right mind would choose to recycle glass. If this is true, what happens to all the glass containers that my municipal collection service takes in?? Does it just stack up in a warehouse some where, and then be secretly shipped out to a land fill in China at taxpayer’s expense? By the way, the recycling service in my community is not voluntary!
    I have heard similar claims made about other types of recycling, that only medal is actually cost efficient to recycle. What is the truth about recycling of glass, paper and plastics?

  68. After returning from dinner, several Schell’s Zommerfest pints, and checking this article, I find the graph to be totally incomprehensible. What is it saying?? Perceived vs used/actual from a poll? What are the demographics? Should I care? I get that for which I pay. Maybe tomorrow morning with a clear head…

  69. I still think THE answer for homes and buildings is in the shingle & siding industry. There otta be shingle & siding that we can nail on the roof (along with a thousand more) and side walls that generate electricity from solar light & heat energy. Just think of all the energy we’re wasting every day with these ancient tar things and aluminum slats we’re using now.
    And roads and bridges too! We need new kinds of tar and concrete that generates electricity that is transferred via our tires into the car to make it go! But what are we doing, we’re listening to Fat Al & Co. tell us we gotta go back to walking 40 miles each way to and from work to save the planet, and not have kids, and save polar bears, and give billions to African dictators, and get kinky massages, and not go to the bathroom, and…

  70. The motivating factor has to be cost. I didn’t switch to a thermostat with a weekly timer because I wanted to reduce energy consumption – I did it to save money. The same consideration applied to my pellet stove to heat a cold part of the house, and the used cars outside. Never even considered conservation – all pocketbook decisions. Make me a solar panel that saves me money and it will get installed.

  71. Okay, Buffoon, um, yup.
    I’ve got maybe a SEER8, probably less than that now AC unit in the house. And it ain’t getting replaced until it dies. I’ve done the math, it is not worth it. (I live in N. Texas, so AC is where it is at)
    But what I have done, I replaced the 30′ long intake flexible pipe that was barely insulated with R6 with a direct 8′ long flexible pipe that is insulated with R18. Have replaced all of my South facing windows, and 1/2 of the rest properly, even inset them. I’ve done this gradually over the last few years by myself, and my wife keeps the house at 78 in the summer. Net effect, with that old clunker in that attic our worse electricity bill, in the state with the highest (or close to) rate is less than $400 for a 2500 sq-ft 2 story house.
    Granted, with the new siding and such, a lot of my own time, but it can be done. But I would have been hard pressed to replace those windows if they did not otherwise need replacing!
    And just as many people have said, my 8 year old PAID for Suburban ain’t going nowhere. Yeah it only gets 13-15 (top) MPG, for the 7-12k miles per year, I’m keeping it for at least another 5 years.
    I know how to add, I do the best to maximize my paycheck. Living to someone elses formula is not going to work for my household.

  72. Douglas DC says:
    August 17, 2010 at 6:20 pm
    Turobodiesel guy here. I cannot see how hybrids can even be sound just from the Batteries alone.

    Diesel is just a much more efficient cycle and the US should use them a lot more, but the real question is the efficiency of hybrids vs. a non-hybrid equivalent. Done properly hybrids should have a little less weight because the (presumably) gas engine can be sized smaller and peak demand handled with a boost from the electric motor in a parallel configuration, or the transmission could be done away with completely in a serial configuration. In practice I think most (all?) hybrids are slightly heavier than their non-hybrid equivalents because of the current state of battery technology. Assuming the same weight though, then a hybrid’s main advantage is really in a stop and go environment. Idling a non-hybrid is completely inefficient — don’t bring up warming up the car in the winter time before you get in it — and a hybrid eliminates most of that. Some efficiency is also gained through regenerative braking.
    On a totally separate topic, using incandescent lights or any pure electric heat is horribly inefficient. Remember that you’re only interested in the amount of work required to produce or move an amount of heat. For electric heaters heat=work at your house which is 100% (Q/W=1) thermodynamically efficient, but you need to consider the whole cycle. The generation of the electricity itself, assuming a fossil fuel plant like natural gas, and its transmission to your house both have efficiencies and in the case of the former they are substantially less than 100% (think ~45% typical and up to 60% combined cycle). If what you want is heat, then a high efficiency gas furnace is much better than direct electric heat because you eliminate most of the loss incurred at the generating plant. If you want heat and efficiency, then a heat pump will beat both assuming you have a suitable source from which to pump such as air that isn’t too cold or a well or other ground source heat pump. This is because the heat pump can move many units of heat per unit of work. Using the same definition of efficiency as above for a heat pump that moves say 5 units of heat per unit of work would give an “efficiency” of 500% (Q/W=5, but we’re really talking COP and not true efficiency). Obviously that’s impossible and only works because you’re moving heat from one location to another — basically you’re subsidized by the resident heat in your heat source.
    The bottom line is waste heat generated by lighting is still waste. Whether that waste is economical is left to the individual circumstance.

  73. This subject is really irksome. The base line is that higher energy costs = higher prices on almost everything which basically reduces the standard of living for most of us, a whole lot for some and none for the one’s at the top running the show. For those having to closely watch outgo, higher costs of energy and other basics = less money left for fun or other luxury items. This is just so much crap & BS because control groups have a perverted philosophical view that the lesser people of western civilizations need to have their standard of living reduced to save xxx or xxx or xxx, meanwhile not affecting them at all as they live however they want to.
    If someone saves energy voluntarily that is fine, but it should never have to be a requirement and energy, food and other necessities should always be priced fairly for those at the bottom of the rung (if not then the rest of us will pick up the difference ala the welfare tab anyway).
    Governments and those influencing politicians continue to make wrong decisions in these areas and then want the rest of us to correct the situations with reduced lifestyles without any sacrifice on their part (this seems to apply also in the numerous financial scandals since dereg started in the ’80’s, as the taxpayer is always left to pick up the tab). I for one, will play their corrupt game only when forced to and then with much protest.

  74. History tells us that greater efficiency does NOT reduce consumption. I’m referring to Jevon’s paradox. The only thing that will reduce consumption is higher energy costs and we know that’s what this present administration wants. So this researcher’s assertion that efficiency will save money is false.
    JimBob @6:32
    I agree with you 100%
    Alan @ 7:15
    I read somewhere that a Japanese researcher wrote a paper on recycling and asserted that metal is the only substance that can be viably recycled. The little community that I live in only takes metal because the garbage service they use loses money hauling any other recycled materials.

  75. Most of the solutions to our energy problems should involve governmental deregulation .
    Lets get our nuclear industry back on its feet by allowing development of the new and safer technology to happen with a minimum of regulation.Lets get the huge oil field just south of the Canadian border on the prairies developed as quickly as possible.Lets shut down the EPA as soon possible.Lets start subsidizing only ideas that make economic sense both in the short and long term.Lets tell the government to get out of the way and let us rebuild this economy and country.

  76. My response to this issue is: I don’t care if good old Edison bulbs are efficient or not. I like them, I HATE (yes very big letters) fluorescent lighting. How much I spend on power to light my house is between me and my pocket book. Nobody else’s beeswax. Period. I also collect and use Aladdin Kerosene Mantel Lamps as the power often goes out here in the mountains and because I LIKE to use them.
    My house has electric resistance heating in it, but: I never have used it once. I don’t even know if it works or not I’m serious. I heat my home with two beautiful and efficient coal stoves which date from the early 20Th Century. These stoves provide 100% of my heating needs up here in northern Pennsylvania for about 45 cents a day and the house is warm, even in the sub zero weather that comes each Winter. My house is a Global Warming Whack Job’s worst nightmare. I heat with coal, the house is warm. I use Edison bulbs and you can see without getting a headache.
    I guess I’m a menace to to society.

  77. I agree with the article’s comment about miles-per-gallon being a poor choice for consumers to measure efficiency.
    I much prefer the metric of gallons-per-1000-miles (gpKmi); it makes comparisons simpler. For example, if you’re trying to decide between buying a 24 mpg car and a 25 mpg car, how much is that higher mileage worth? Not obvious — it requires division which isn’t as accessible for most folks. But it’s easy to do the math if instead you compare 42 gpKmi to 40 gpKmi. For a typical suburban rate of 1000 miles per month, the difference is 42-40=2 gallons per month, or $5-$6 / month at current U.S. prices. If you have the car for 5 years, that’s a little more than $300. Alternatively, if you plan to keep the car for 100,000 miles, the difference would be 100*(42-40)=200 gallons, or $500-$600.
    As the original article mentions, gains are magnified for inefficient vehicles. Improving a 15 mpg SUV to 20 mpg represents a huge reduction in fuel consumption, not readily apparent when stated in mpg terms. To achieve the same savings, to what mileage would one have to improve a 30 mpg sedan? Most people guess 35 or 40. But, assuming equal number of miles per vehicle, the answer is that you’d have to upgrade the 30 mpg car to 60 mpg. [ 66.7 gpKmi -> 50 gpKmi is a reduction of 16.7; the 30 mpg car is 33.3 gpKmi and has to be reduced to 16.6, to match.] Using fuel economy (i.e., gallons per 1000 miles or the like) for the gas guzzlers is a more telling expression of how inefficient they are.
    It should be noted that the U.S.’s CAFE metric, although expressed in mpg, actually averages fuel economy rather than averaging the mpg values, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_Average_Fuel_Economy#Calculation

  78. 1] What, no mention of Obama’s own “check your tire pressure” panacea? And,
    2] “The largest group, nearly 20 percent, cited turning off lights as the best approach—an action that affects energy budgets relatively little.” Wait a minute, given that the Communist Revolution is moving right along here in the U.S. toward Utopia, I thought CFL’s were soon going to be mandatory and salvational – while, officially, it now appears that even having no light wouldn’t do much good! [I guess, as North Korea must already know?]

  79. My primary weapon against energy consumption? A wood burning stove.
    Coupled with insulation and double glazing I managed to knock more than £300 pounds off my winter natural gas bill last year. With the way the cost of energy is skyrocketing in the UK I reckon I can up that saving by another 50% at least. You can do that when you are not trying to get your many mansions noticed from outer space…

  80. Karl: August 17, 2010 at 8:48 pm
    History tells us that greater efficiency does NOT reduce consumption. I’m referring to Jevon’s paradox. The only thing that will reduce consumption is higher energy costs and we know that’s what this present administration wants. So this researcher’s assertion that efficiency will save money is false.
    From the Department of Anecdotal Anecdotes Department: I had a friend who owned a 40-unit trailer park (before “mobile home community” was the PC term). During Energy Crunch I, aka, the Carter Presidency, my friend decided to be patriotic and bought timers for all his tenants and instituted a light-in-occupied-room-only policy for his tenants. After two months, his electric bill *increased* because he no longer qualified for a “conspicuous user” rate.
    He collected all the timers, rescinded the policy, and kept the area security lights on 24 hours per day.
    At the end of the month, he used so much electricity that he qualified for the “industrial user” rate, and his bill was *less* than what he had originally been paying.

  81. coldfinger [August 17, 2010 at 1:01 pm] says:
    I doubt that compact fluorescents achieve the savings vs. incandescents in the typical home that their efficiency suggests. When do you tend to have lights on? At night and in winter, times when it tends to be colder. All that energy that GLS incandescent lamps put out as heat reduces the space heating that is needed at night and in cold weather, i.e. a lot of the time it isn’t wasted energy.

    Spector [August 17, 2010 at 5:24 pm] says:
    … After replacing all my incandescent lights with the new fluorescent types, I now find that I must return from ‘AC’ to ‘Heat’ mode in the summer at night when before I could usually leave my thermal control system in ‘AC’ mode all summer.

    Absolutely dead-on target comments! Indeed the subject of lighting itself constitutes a microcosm of all things green.
    The heat thrown off by incandescent lights is a non-trivial point which of course means that it is completely lost upon retarded greenie do-gooders. In fact an argument can be made that the efficiency of an incandescent bulb approaches 100% under many conditions, for example in lights that are at lower height levels like lamps where the heat warms the air and rises. This efficiency is obviously less for lights up in the ceiling, and all the heat is wasted when the lights are outdoors (although small animals and insects may debate this).
    As Spector mentioned, replace your bed/living rooms with non-incandescent bulbs and you will be nudging the thermostat up during 50-75% of the year. The area control granularity is usually coarse which means you will be bumping all the rooms up a few degrees and you may end up spending more money by using efficient lights. Expand this thought from lighting to every other field that the anti-logical Luddite tries to influence and the magnitude of their folly becomes dangerous.
    So the rational and logical mind should grasp the simple fact that efficiency arguments must be nuanced. Place incandescents where the people live and where heat is useful. Place those long-lasting durable LED lights (which I happen to like very much) outdoors or where heat is dangerous (near flammables) or in those hard-to-reach places. CFL’s probably can serve some purpose also.
    But the insane cult of Luddite know-nothing do-gooders ignore all logic and what happens next? This: incandescent bulbs are placed on the fast-track to extinction at taxpayer expense. Their ability to jump to the wrong conclusion is limitless. This is exactly why anything related to Global Warming must not be debated but fought and defeated. There is no benefit of the doubt to be entertained, they can never be scientific because it is not in their genes. Perpetual Motion and Over-Unity and AGW are all indicators of the same mental illness: knee-jerk obsessive compulsive resistance to rationality, logic, common sense and indeed, Science itself.

  82. Tsk Tsk says:
    August 17, 2010 at 8:10 pm
    On a totally separate topic, using incandescent lights or any pure electric heat is horribly inefficient. Remember that you’re only interested in the amount of work required to produce or move an amount of heat.

    The bottom line is waste heat generated by lighting is still waste. Whether that waste is economical is left to the individual circumstance.

    Ummmmm. You were doing fine until swerved into that! Place an incandescent in a lamp for reading. The heat warms the air and offsets the use of whatever furnace or heat source is in the house. Take the bulb away and replace with CFL/LED and you will end up nudging the thermostat up to compensate (or you wear a sweater). In most cases the thermostat will raise the temperature of all the rooms not just the one where you are sitting. So the bulb becomes a spot heat source which is better than a global heat source. So I’m sorry, but that paragraph is most often patently false and is exactly the kind of shallow thinking that the greenie know-nothings take advantage of when pressing their socialist agenda.

  83. I have a young adult child who is a new grad in construction. As an engineer, she is has had over a billion dollars in construction approved this year. She tells me that shopping malls do not have heaters and furnaces for tennants. Lighting and bodies create heat and they install a/c to remove heat.
    As a kid, many nearby farms had detached summer kitchen buildings. We had a german name for them. Heat was generated outside the home and the home was closed for the day including shades drawn untill evening. Baking in the winter is a heat supplement as is ventilating a drier indoors in the winter.

  84. idlex says:
    August 17, 2010 at 12:28 pm
    Is it really energy that must be saved?
    If people think that it is, then it’s quite simple. Switch off all the lights. Switch off all appliances. Switch off the heating. Walk everywhere…
    When you’ve done all this, you’ll probably find that lights and appliances and heating and cars all save time and work. They free people to some greater or lesser extent. And that’s what people gain from using these appliances. The energy cost of using them is what they lose. And that energy cost is paid in money earned at work.
    All these devices cost something (energy or money or work or time), but they also gain something (time). If they gain more more their users than they cost, they’re worth using.
    Simply ‘saving energy’ ignores the value of the various devices or appliances being used, and it’s a false economy.
    ____________________________________________________________
    To get the “energy savings” the greens really want you will have to kick all the idle off welfare and put them back to work as domestic servants and farm labor, kids included. The only reason society has had the luxury of having a welfare class is because the work done by servants and slaves is now done by machines. Save energy by getting rid of machines and you will have to replace it with human labor. A wife and husband both working will be a thing of the past, women can not keep a house AND work if there is no convenience food, vacuum cleaners, washing machines…

  85. Ric Werme says:
    August 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm
    ….I’ve long thought if high schools taught spreadsheets by including a section on the cost of a kid, there’d be fewer teen pregnancies.
    ____________________________________________________
    As long as “Welfare Mother” is an attractive job category you will have teen pregnancies. Especially when welfare pays more than a entry level job. Small business people in the USA are often forced to pay under the table or not hire at all because they can not compete with the welfare pay rates.
    This is from a discussion with a group of small business people at an Arts and Crafts fair. Many of the more successful people wanted to hire help but ran into major snags. Being forced to pay a lot more than minimum wags for help was the biggie. Dealing with the red tape of course was the other problem but they had already evaluated that so the no help available for the price they could afford to pay blind sided a lot of them.

  86. My biggest & easiest saving came from putting a timer-control on my electric water heater. Electric water heater isn’t shown on the graph, but it should be right up there w/the highest-usage items.
    Lights/computers/TVs/etc are trivial by comparison.

  87. I don’t see “high efficiency wood stove” or “5 full cords of dry renewable biofuel” anywhere on that energy saving chart! Or is that just my perception…..?

  88. While making clear glass from recycled glass is wasteful, it is not true that recycling glass is inefficient, given that the waste stream is of mixed colors and the glass being manufactured is green or amber. The main cost of glass recycling is sorting the colors, and modern techniques permit this step to be skipped. As for energy, it is obvious that it takes less to make glass from glass than from raw material.

  89. Something that was available yrs ago from science-surplus stores (I still have a few working) are the small rectifier-inserts that you insert on the end of incandescent bulbs. This eliminates one “side” of the AC waveform, so it reduces the bulb wattage by one-half. Why not just use a bulb rated at half the wattage instead? You can of course, but the little rectifier increases the lifetime of an incandescent bulb vastly — it can last for many yrs (one bulb I use daily has lasted 5+ yrs!) instead of a yr or less.

  90. starzmom says:
    August 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm
    ‘I fell truly blessed to live in a time when I have lots more opportunities than my grandmother.’
    And you wonder why farmers had large families back in the 1800’s? A lot of chores had to get done.

  91. The UK government has pushed not leaving TVs on standby as a means of saving money, also unplugging mobile phone chargers. TVs on standby use milliwatts, ditto phone chargers, no real savings in energy. Older TVs could have used less than they do but no-one of a normal disposition thought that people would be hyperventilating over a few hundred milliwatts.
    As for glass, there is a glass available for double glazing now that has a low iron content which allows better transmission of visible light, which theoretically, when Low E coating is used makes for a more efficient unit.
    The sand for this glass is shipped from Spain to Hull, then transported in lorries across country to St. Helens where it is processed into glass. The processing requires that the sand is heated a few hundred °C more than normal.
    I wonder if there is any significant saving in energy here.
    DaveE.

  92. Ric Werme at August 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm says:

    I’ve long thought if high schools taught spreadsheets by including a section on the cost of a kid, there’d be fewer teen pregnancies.

    Ric, I’m fairly confident that with a lot of teen pregnancies, the economics of the situation was not a major consideration. Well at least for the ones not using it as a career move anyway.

  93. It is a shame that the basics of ROI are not taught with this. As things fail from use and old age I replace them with cost effective replacements. I’m in the “use it till it drops” group. Upgrade? Sure just wait until this current one dies for good. Cars, TV, computers, and just about everything else. When repairs are not cost effective then upgrade.
    You have to look at resource utilization, life cycle and efficiency NOT just energy. I have gone through a lot of CFL bulbs in the last 10 years (I’ve got one GE circle light that is 15 years old at 2 hours a day use). Keep the receipts and make the manufacturer go good on their 4 or 5 year claim. They all hate me. Most are pretty good about sending you a coupon to replace the dead one. The LED lights may promise 20-50 years but they are only guaranteed for 3. Go figure!
    Look at your utility bills. The biggest cost for me isn’t the usage it is the connection fees, etc etc. The only way to really get a decent ROI is not being on the grid which is very difficult.
    It is at purchase time that the best savings can be had. Especially in long lasting items like houses, cars & appliances. I see all these hybrids and compare the extra up front costs and give up. A 10 to 12 year payback at best for an item that may last 14 years? No thanks.
    I have done some pre-death upgrades that worked out. A dual flush toilet for $100 paid itself back in 3-4 years so that was worth it. A fescue lawn instead of bluegrass payback in 6 years (plus only mow it once a month, nice slow growing stuff) was worth it.

  94. “In my home I have utilised CFLs in two locations – kitchen and landing. In both they have increased my power usage by a factor of two to three. Since the landing didn’t need a bright light, the 20W CFL was adequate, but had to be left on from dusk to bedtime. ”
    So true. If the light is off, then you flip it on when you want light now, not in 10 or 15 minutes .
    So the poor lightbulbs get left on, because otherwise you’d be waiting 15 minutes to walk down the stairs safely.
    I cannot see things by the CFL so I supplement the light in my entertainment area with a darn floodlight. Not too efficient but I can see what I am doing.
    It’s true, the new appliances just suck.
    And everything, everything, has indicator lights, clocks, and microprocessors so forget about using a switch to save that power. You lose too much time reprogramming the darn things.
    A laptop may use less power but it is also ,as mentioned about other items, unfixable,
    un-upgradeable, and will be obsolete before it stops working even so.
    My desktop tower can be repaired and tarted up so I still use the 2005 model to mostly great effect.
    We DID buy a hybrid car ( Honda Insight) because we were buying a car, paying cash, and the Honda fit our needs and tastes.
    Of course it is so highly rated that it actually cleans city air as you drive, so I should drive behind Steve and clean up the excess Co2 emissions from his over-efforted bike riding. LOL

  95. How about stopping the transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries, via foreign aid & cap and trade schemes? Hah?

  96. When is that insane law prohibiting us from buying incandescent lightbulbs due to take effect? I want to stock up before then.
    I like incandescent lighting. I like my big van (and the Mustang GT I hope to buy), I like our big house (though the kids have left), and my various computers and associated drives and other gizmos, not to mention our new giant TV (55″), our appliances, and our gas central heating (no AC really needed here in Massachusetts; we have ceiling fans). If we couldn’t afford this stuff, we’d scale back. But at the moment we can, and as far as I’m concerned it’s nobody’s else’s blinking business, least of all the federal government’s.
    /Mr Lynn

  97. Ed Reid August 17, 2010 at 12:14 pm :

    Typical room air conditioners are not as efficient as central systems. However, for infrequently used rooms, their lower efficiency might well be offset by their very low operating hours, assuming that the rooms they occupy can be isolated.

    Bear in mind, when making comparisons between SEER and EER (central and window rating numbers respectively), one must assume an approximate conversion is in lieu of some specific information:
    SEER = EER ÷ 0.9 = SEER = EER * 1.1111…
    An EER of 10 translates roughly to an SEER of 11.2 or so …
    Using a value of .83 fudge factor value an EER of 10 yields an SEER of 12 and so on.
    For a central air system e.g. here in Texas (and other southern states in the summer), one must account for some loss of ‘cooling’ capacity to the ductwork often run in a *hot* attic or the ductwork comprised as part of the ceiling with the blown-in insulation the next layer up … a window unit does not have those handicaps and those now ‘dead’ air spaces may now serve somewhat as insulation …
    ( this EER to SEER ‘fudge factor’ seems to range from .7 to .9 depending on conditions, etc)
    .

  98. beng August 18, 2010 at 8:26 am
    Something that was available yrs ago from science-surplus stores (I still have a few working) are the small rectifier-inserts that you insert on the end of incandescent bulbs. This eliminates one “side” of the AC waveform, so it reduces the bulb wattage by one-half.

    Not exactly true; the cooling of the filament allows a higher current draw on the next active 1/2 sinusoidal cycle … I can’t give you a number, but I recall it was distinct on the Oscilloscope trace. The ‘color’ spectrum and output brilliance also changes …
    Source: Incandescent lamp experiments performed involving a cathode ray-based O-scope and a current shunt some 30 years ago for the purposes of observing initial bulb current draw at turn on and other states given an applied sinusoidal voltage …
    .

  99. JPeden August 17, 2010 at 11:30 pm
    1] What, no mention of Obama’s own “check your tire pressure” panacea?

    GOOD memory.
    .

  100. Conservation is nice. Surplus is nicer.
    focusfusion.org
    ¼¢/kwh power within 5 yrs, or bust! 🙂

  101. kadaka (KD Knoebel) August 17, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    And from an electrical standpoint, electronic switching power supplies are horrible things that introduce strange harmonic currents to a building’s power system because they are non-linear loads.

    But, they could … the particular models purchased just weren’t spec’d to work that way (unity power factor, or to put it into english, pull current proportional to the applied voltage through 360 degrees of that applied sinusoidal voltage).
    The complexity of such a unity power factor switchers is higher though, and that’s also reflected in higher cost … usually that’s the determining factor.
    Survey of the literature, incl. various designs (unity power factor switcher):
    http://www.google.com/search?client=opera&rls=en&q=unity+power+factor+switcher&sourceid=opera&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
    .

  102. kadaka (KD Knoebel) August 17, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    This isn’t an issue with residential electric services yet, as the normal minimum for new electrical services of 200 Amps (US, 120/240 Volt single phase) is rather large compared to the expected current usage,

    You wouldn’t want to see what that 60 Hz ‘waveform’ looks like our here in the hinterland nowadays either; the top portion has been lopped due to those peak-rectifying non-unity power factor devices like wall-warts and TV power supply units (PSU) and PC PSUs as well … my next subject of some study, I think.
    Well, here’s a youtube video showing the lopped-off sinusoidal waveform (the top waveform; it is used here for ‘phase reference’ against the received noise pulses on the bottom waveform in the video):
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozzp4RW5G54&fs=1&hl=en_US]
    .

  103. For a different take on recycling, check out plascoenergygroup.com . Plasma torch reduces waste to syngas, and a small lump of slag for use as aggregate per ton. Plus electricity to sell to the utilities.

  104. Brian H says:
    August 18, 2010 at 9:31 pm
    For a different take on recycling, check out plascoenergygroup.com . Plasma torch reduces waste to syngas, and a small lump of slag for use as aggregate per ton. Plus electricity to sell to the utilities.

    That’s the way to go. Videos here:
    http://www.plascoenergygroup.com/?Media_Centre
    Very impressive.
    Unfortunately the company is private, or I’d be tempted to buy a few shares.
    /Mr Lynn

  105. My own contrubution from the Department of Anecdotal Anecdotes Department (as Bill Tuttle above put it) is, I suppose, an illustration of Jevon’s paradox. Consumer warning: my failing memory has likely mangled some details.
    Several years back, a small U.S. town (IIRC, it was Hood River, Oregon) had a program sponsored by the government and/or the local electric utility to add insulation to older, poorly insulated homes at little or no cost to the homeowners. Many houses evidently had electric heat, and the objective was to reduce power consumption.
    Naturally, plenty of folks jumped at the opportunity, so lots of homes got insulated, and then next winter… (the more cynical among you will already have predicted what’s coming)… electric consumption increased!
    Turns out that many houses in town didn’t just have electric heat, they also had wood burning stoves. With no insulation, trying to keep warm with the electric heater was like throwing wads of money out the windows. The homeowners didn’t have a lot of cash, but they had chainsaws and they knew how to use them. So they burned wood. But once their homes were snugly insulated, it became affordable to use the heaters. Being human, the residents succumbed to the convenience of warmth at the flick of a switch and abandoned their chainsaws. Well, maybe they still used them to carve lawn bears from Douglas fir stumps.

  106. I would say the real savings with glass come from its ability to be cleaned with superheated steam and ri used, in face I believe that using somthing again without re processing is the only real re cycling that adds up, have a lauge at the mountains of recycling stored on WW2 airfields in the UK, it cannot be landfilled as the EU would fine each council what madness.

  107. How about if I don’t feel like saving energy but willing to pay for the energy I use? Can I not do that without being labeled an earth-wrecker?

  108. Brian H August 18, 2010 at 9:31 pm
    Mr Lynn August 19, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Looks like an energy intensive “PRO’-CESS” (process for those south of the Canadian border) in the first few steps; doubt the ‘energy gain’ is over unity, meaning, the overall process consumes more energy than it produces … now, this in and of itself is not a bad thing, because a lot of garbage has been disposed of by a means other than simple burial (and I would say ‘later reclamation’ 1/2 an eon or so from now as the earth overturns her surface and once again the materials are precipitated out given time and temperature and gravity) …
    So, for the ‘betterment of mankind’ do you A) choose the energy intensive short-time ‘pro-cess’ or B) the long time earth-based re-cycle process?
    .

  109. ‘Joe E says:
    August 20, 2010 at 12:10 pm
    How about if I don’t feel like saving energy but willing to pay for the energy I use? Can I not do that without being labeled an earth-wrecker?’
    If everyone was happy to pay a price for your energy that reflected the true environmental cost then that would be just fine!

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