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Can’t we all just get along…with less?

Can’t we all just get along…with less?

 

There’s a new study out by the highly respected brainiac firm Mckinsey, which concludes that, in the US alone, we have the potential to reduce energy consumption by 23% by 2020, eliminating more than $1.2 trillion in waste, and resulting in the abatement of 1.1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually – the equivalent of taking the entire U.S. fleet of passenger vehicles and light trucks off the roads.

This is not based on new clean energy sources, or some future high tech solution like hydrogen powered flying cars. (Question: Does a flying car count as taking a car off the road?) It is based on energy efficiency – simply consuming less.

The cost? Well it isn’t all free…but what is most interesting about the report is that they identify the expenditures that actually save more than they cost, and rank them based on their return on investment.  High on the list are lighting, appliances/electronics, and water heating, things groups like Energy Star, your utilities, and even ClimatePath have been touting for some time.

In a country where using fossil fuels is almost a sign of patriotism (a bizarre notion, given our reliance on foreign oil), some pretty sizable changes are needed to capture these savings. To sum up the Mckinsey study’s conclusions, an energy policy based on supply needs to be replaced by one based on demand.  Treating energy efficiency as an energy resource, more investment in energy efficiency, and cooperation between utilities, regulators, government agencies, manufacturers (and consumers) are all part of the solution.

A lot of this savings is in commercial buildings and facilities, where better codes and incentives to spend up front are needed.  But that doesn’t let us off the hook at home. Discover the operating costs of tankless water heaters, front load washers and other appliances before dismissing them in favor of cheaper models.  And if you work in a commercial building, ask what your company and your landlord are doing to reduce energy costs. Especially in this economic climate, landlords will bend over backwards to please tenants…and they’ll be saving money in the long run as well.  Energy Star has a great guide for building upgrades…pass it on!

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Photo copyright janetmck at flickr.com.

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40 comments

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7:20PM PST on Feb 11, 2013

Thank you for article, interesting comments.

7:20PM PST on Feb 11, 2013

Thank you for article, interesting comments.

7:19PM PST on Feb 11, 2013

Thank you for article, interesting comments.

4:42PM PDT on Aug 13, 2009

Although our expense was great, we consider ourselves lucky that we had to replace our almost 20 year old HVAC and hot water systems. We opted for a system the uses both a heat pump and a back up and got the most efficiency we could afford. The systems are extremely efficient but not the most efficient because we learned on the Energy Star website that some systems that are highly efficient are still not the best for saving energy because of many factors including their cost of manufacturing. We opted for heat pump water heater because of what we learned on that website as well. It is very efficient and considerably less costly than a tankless water heater.

Using CFL's is a very easy fix and they have become very inexpensive. If everyone replaced every bulb they could, the savings in energy would be mind-boggling.

No matter how we feel about global warming, and anyone who knows anything about science knows that the science is in on the validity of this phenomenon, we can all do things that save energy and save us money as individuals. Most of us would like to save money so, if you don't believe in climate change, do it for the money.

5:07AM PDT on Aug 10, 2009

Sure, when America will get its act together, things might change. But then again, pigs might fly too... Seeing the number of negative reactions and global warming deniers on this site, I am not too hopeful.
But I still try my best to live with the minimum, drive the minimum, use the minimum energy. And I don't live in America and am not American anyway.

2:38PM PDT on Aug 5, 2009

Hi Aod,

"Not sure where you live, but this has been the coldest summer we have ever had! Upper Michigan was even colder....I don't believe the hype. "

That would be anecdotal, not science. Sorry buddy. You're real wrong on this one.

Also, sun spots mess with communications, volcanos are the greatest natural threat with exception of large impacts, and earthquakes are dangerous to all who reside in man-made structures. But nothing we can do about those but brace for them with some caution, improve communications and monitoring, and establish better building codes.

Global warming is something we can reduce in severity.

Best,

Jim

2:02PM PDT on Aug 5, 2009

Not sure where you live, but this has been the coldest summer we have ever had! Upper Michigan was even colder....I don't believe the hype. Sure we had a warming phase for a while, but it isn't continuing the way the govt hopes it will. I am wondering if climate is flipping. What I mean is that where it used to be warm in the summer it is getting colder and where it was cold in the summer it is getting warmer. If you go to the sites and do your own research you will see what I mean. Check out the sunspots, volcanic activity, earthquake activity and things like that. I think you will be surprised by what you find if you are willing to do the research for yourself and NOT rely on the media, political pundits and groups of climate researchers that don't take all things into consideration. There is research out there that there was more carbon before humans. So you can't believe everything your read, see or hear. You have to figure it out for yourself.

1:47PM PDT on Aug 5, 2009

Sorry, Aod, we agree sometimes, but not on global warming. It's real dude; it's human-made; and CO2 in the upper atmosphere is the culprit. There's not a credible climatologist that hasn't concluded that. There's a comparatively small group of scientist (non-climate science spoecialist) that are advance dessenting opinions that are nothing more than pseudoscience. The warming cycling we're now seeing is off the scale of any natural phenominom.

Get with it my friend, the earth ain't flat; and CO2 in the upper atmopshere is super-heating the planet. Ironically, smog is countering half the effect. Solar dimming due to polution is saving our butt, but won't save it long term.

1:26PM PDT on Aug 5, 2009

I do not believe that is completely true Jacqueline...I think most humans will and do share, it is how society portrays those things that changes the person. We share what we have when we have it. We try to live in a way that we "do no harm" and "live and let live". Parents, public schools and society need to change those values if you want to make a difference. I don't see that happening any time soon. Moderation is the key. Knowing what you really need is a good beginning. As for our population--there is a cycle to that just as there is global warming and global cooling. It is funny that most people I know look at major cities and say "we are over populated" but then go to Montana or the outskirts of big cities in China and realize it just isn't so. Everyday people die and people are born. Some places have more people than others.
The glaciers are melting....have you gone and looked on a geological map where those glaciers are? Have you seen the volcanoes underneath? We need to stop looking to the government for change. They work on fear and insecurity. We need to stop asking them to make laws that cost money we don't have. Our government is so much more wasteful than the average American! Example: They buy an American car company that has been on it's way out since the late 80's and then expect us to be excited about it? Come on. It is just another way to get the people looking the opposite direction while they do something else stupid.

1:06PM PDT on Aug 5, 2009

To Dave R. and all the right-living folks herein:

Being part of the solution and not part of the problem is terrific. We can spend long hours in front of the mirror and hyperextend an elbow patting ourselves on the back. But does it solve the problem????

Truly, I am not trying to minimize the wonderful ideas and assertions made here. Indeed, you are to be admired and I wish to heaven everyone was like you. But they're not, and won't be, anytime soon. We have to be practical. And here's a couple of things I believe would make a significant impact:

1. The Left, and especially Evironmentalists, need to get off this stupid anti-nuke bandwagon. We need nuke power if we're going to slow global warming in a significant way.

2. We also need to call our newly-elected "Left" leaning Administration and Legislature to task. This stupid Cash for Clunkers deal is as conservative and lobbist-approved as anything Bush might have dreamed up. We need to demand emission and mileage standards and not be diverted with industry-approved nonsense like C4C. The power has shifted to the left side of the aisle in DC, but much is still business as usual. So we the people are going to need to raise some hell. I will not be an apologist for Dems just because their our guys. They work for us; let's let them know what we want them to do.

So as the late great Molly Ivins would have advised: raise some hell; and have some fun doing it. :^)

Best to and for all of us,

Jim
Jim

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