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I have wanted to write this diary for a long time.  I have been interested and involved in the debate on DKOS concerning energy, climate change, and nuclear power.  There have been many great diaries about the difficulty we face transitioning to alternative energy sources.  Like it or not, nukes or no-nukes, coal or no coal, the reality is that the world’s current energy sources are dwindling and the worlds energy demands are increasing.  Without dramatic changes in these trends, energy costs will skyrocket and become scarce over the next few decades. Additionally, without some major changes, there will be dramatic changes to our planets climate resulting from our burning huge quantities of fossil fuels.  These two issues will be catastrophic to humans everywhere.

The great Think Big front page diaries by Mark Summer and Meteor Blades about energy and transportation motivated me to share my ideas on how each of us can take immediate steps to address these problems, put ourselves in a safer economic situation, and lead our lagging governments by example.

This diary is about how wasteful we all are and how our culture promotes this waste: “Plug it in plug it in” comes to mind. Other cultures use a fraction of the energy Americans use. I believe a combination of corporate marketing and plain laziness has resulted in our society being extremely wasteful of our precious energy sources.  While the extreme waste in the US makes it very easy to find simple conservation measures, even in countries that use far less energy can also find further conservation methods.  Because our governments are failing us in addressing both the coming energy shortages and climate change, we must all make personal and substantial contributions to solving America’s energy crisis. Through simple conservation you will improve your family’s long term financial security and truly achieve the one thing we all strive for “energy independence” creating a better world today and for tomorrow.

While this topic never gets the headlines like nuclear accidents or oil spills, reducing our energy usage has more potential to immediately address our energy and climate problems than anything else.  The reality is that especially in the US, we waste a huge amount of energy.   The US has about 5% of the world’s population but uses 20% of the world’s energy.  This waste is an untapped potential that can provide immediate benefits.

Let’s look at some data to get an idea on how much of this waste we can realistically reduce, without lowering our standard of living.  First, let’s look at US energy consumption verses other countries with similar standards of living.  

This graph shows annual per capita total energy consumption (Source) for a selection of countries with similar standards of living as the US and Canada.  To be fair, each country has different circumstances such as weather and other factors that will influence energy needs.  However, this data makes it pretty clear that many other advanced countries seem to be able to get by just fine on close to half the energy per capita than the US and Canada.

Another example to get a feel for how much wasted energy we might be able to conserve is the history of electrical usage in California.  Since 1974, California has held its per capita energy consumption essentially constant, while energy use per person for the United States overall has jumped 50 percent. (Source) Why has this happened in California and not the rest of the US, it is because California has provided incentives for conservation and has shunned the use of cheap dirty power (coal) and as a result electricity in California is a bit more expensive than the rest of the country.  The result is that California is more like thrifty Denmark than the rest of the energy-guzzling United States. While the average American burns 12,000 kilowatt-hours a year of electricity, the average Californian burns less than 7,000.

In addition to California’s historical conservation success, the fake energy crisis of 2000-2001 in California provides further proof that there is a huge amount of wasted energy that can be easily conserved.  

California conclusively demonstrated last year that energy conservation and efficiency can significantly and rapidly reduce electricity consumption. During one month, June 2001, when supplies of power were tightest and conservation efforts were strongest, statewide peak-hour electricity demand shrank by 14% from June 2000 (after adjusting for year-to-year differences in weather and employment, both of which affect power demand; actual reductions, before adjustments, were 9%). Although the “conservation rate” understandably slipped somewhat after June as power supplies grew more ample, adjusted peak power usage by Californians for the four summer months (June through September) in 2001 averaged 10% less than a year earlier.


I present these examples not as exact comparisons, but to demonstrate that when we are driven to conserve, we can do it quite easily without any significant negative impact to our lives.  The examples in California I believe are quite insightful on our energy use behavior.  While government programs to promote conservation in California surely contributed to the long term absence in growth in consumption, I believe the bigger motivator in California is that electricity is a bit more expensive here.  Where I live in California, it gets really hot in the summer.  If you want to run your air conditioner all day long for your whole house, it gets quite expensive.  I have friends with large houses who spend well over $1,000 per month on electricity in the summer.  Most of us in California simply can’t afford to do that and have to find alternatives that we can afford.  The impressive drop in peak consumption during the fake energy crisis of 2000-2001 in California also shows that not only financial interested are a motivator, but people actually conserved out of respect for others.  I remember that time very well.  The threats of rolling black-outs shutting down businesses and sending employee’s home without a paycheck had many people talking about what they could do to conserve electricity, and more importantly actually taking action to reduce consumption.  This example gives me the most hope that we can quickly implement conservation measures as soon as people feel that it is an emergency.

Implementing significant conservation measures is not constrained by technology, but is constrained by human behavior.  None of us like change.  All of us have become lazy and accustom to wasting energy.  Many of us are greedy and want it all for ourselves.  We have a culture where people who go out of their way to conserve are often viewed as weird, and the wasteful are viewed as successful.  We have a car culture where the bigger the better, again people driving big hunks of steel and emitting carcinogenic and climate changing fumes are seen as successful and the guy taking the bus or riding his bike is seen as a failure.  I actually had someone ask me if my Velcro strap to keep my pants out of the bike chain was a tracking ankle bracelet, thinking that if I was taking the bus and riding my bike it could only be because I got a DUI and could not legally drive.  

Our economic system has increasingly promoted waste especially in the throwaway society we have become.  These wasteful, self-serving attitudes would not surprise me from someone who thinks climate change is a liberal ploy to implement communism, but unfortunately I am continually disappointed by well-intentioned folks who understand the situation we are in and consider themselves environmentalists.   I guess a big part of it is that this is the culture we all participate in, and like it or not, we are all heavily influenced by these behavioral attitudes.   I can’t tell you how many “environmentalist” friends refuse to take small individual steps to conserve energy or transition to green energy.  So many have the attitude that it is up to the government to address these issues, and then all will be fine.  Many are angry at the government’s inaction on climate change, but resist the smallest changes in their lives.  

The purpose of this diary is to try and reach others who are not so brainwashed by these attitudes and demonstrate just how easy it is to make a significant reduction in energy consumption.  I am hoping some examples from my life will motivate others to seek similar changes in their own lives and even better, to share this with others to try and get a large scale movement to implement conservation.

I have seen first-hand that almost all households and businesses can reduce their energy consumption by 30% to 50% immediately.  Let me give you some real world examples:

1)    The air pollution control agency I use to work for implemented an energy conservation program for their office in 2000 when the fake energy crisis hit California.  They re-programmed the office thermostats to turn off at lunch and 30 minutes before quitting.  Required all employees to turn off lights and computers in their office if they were going to be away for more than 15 minutes.  Reduced the overhead lighting and allowed desk lighting to be used if needed.  They appointed an “energy tsar” to enforce these rules.  These changes resulted in a 30% reduction in electricity usage that has been maintained to today.

2)    I realized one day that the air monitoring stations we operated that are scattered across our county consumed more electricity than the entire office.  This is because they run 24/7 and the equipment must be temperature controlled for the data to be valid.  Traditionally the equipment is installed in a trailer or small building/room with a big air conditioner that runs continuously.  One winter morning I arrived at a station when it was below freezing outside and when I entered the station, the air conditioner was running. I realized then that we were wasting huge amounts of electricity that we could conserve at these sites.  I did some experimentation and through a re-design of some of the air flow equipment, moving heat sources like pumps outside, enclosing the equipment in a well-insulated chamber, using a simple vent fan to use outside air to cool when it was cool outside, and a super-efficient small air conditioner to cool when the outside air was not cool enough cut the electrical consumption of the sites in half.  This saves the agency about $7K per year in electricity costs.  And after sharing this with other agencies (whose mission is to control air pollution) I have yet to get anyone to implement this proven approach that would not only conserve energy but save the cash strapped agency a significant expenses.

3)    We implemented conservation at our house that includes:
a.    All CFL lighting
b.    All appliances like computers that don’t really turn off when you turn them off are plugged in through strips that we turn off when not in use.
c.    Added insulation to windows that are not in use and added weather-stripping to plug any leaks.
d.    Stopped using a clothes drier and replaced with a homebuilt solar powered linear clothes drier (clothes line).
e.    Installed a small energy star air conditioner on one room that we use in place of the central air system for the whole house. The central AC consumes over 6000 watts, the small room AC consumes 400 watts.  We only run the central unit one or two times a year when we have friends visiting and need the whole house cool.

After making these simple changes we purchased a grid tied solar PV system that was designed to provide 100% of the power our house historically used.  We also installed a homebuilt solar hot water heater made from mostly recycled materials (total cost about $100) that provides all of our hot water in the summer and reduces the energy needed for our hot water in the winter.  After a year or so, our conservation efforts were working so well that we had so much excess electricity generated by our PV system that we purchased an old 1982 electric car that we charge from this excess electricity and drive every day.  Truly a zero emission car.

These examples are just examples.  Not everyone can do exactly these things.  But I share them to demonstrate a point.  There are huge opportunities for ALL of us to dramatically reduce our energy usage.  There are also many alternate transportation options that I didn’t have room to discuss here.  If someone requests in the comments, I will compile a list of transportation and home/business conservation ideas and post as another diary.  This list is long as there are almost endless possibilities if one is willing to reject the culture of waste and embrace the idea of making small adjustments in your life to conserve.

I hope that I have inspired others.  Like I said, the restraints on conservation are behavioral not technical.  We all must look inside ourselves and ask if we are willing to make these small accommodations for the greater good.  Our government seems to be failing us on addressing these pressing problems, so what better way to lead than by individual example.  The added benefit is how good you will feel when you are contributing to the solution, not to the problem.

By the way, there is a self-serving interest in making these changes.  It should be clear to all that energy will become more scarce and expensive over the next couple of decades.  By reducing your consumption now and using the savings to implementing solar or other alternative sources for yourself, you are insulating yourself and your family from skyrocketing energy prices, better yet you are taking the most important step towards reducing the impact of climate change.

Originally posted to ashowboat on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 04:41 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Question, how does having to Drive (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      much more considerable distances effect these calculations?

      -9.63 -6.92
      Fox News - We Distort, You Deride

      by rick on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 06:15:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  good question... (0+ / 0-)

        choosing to live in a location where you need to do a lot of driving definitely will increase your overall energy usage.  For most people this is a choice not a given.

        But even for folks that have to live in a rural area, there is still huge potential for conservation that is not being done.

      •  "having to drive" is debatable in many locations (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        in the US. I know that there are places where driving is necessary but we choose to drive when we could walk, ride a bike, take the bus, or commute with other people.

        Americans forget that things they have done all their life can still be choices and we can make changes to how we live.

        •  true but... (3+ / 0-)

          I agree (being someone who lived in Los Angeles for many years but had no car...biked and bused everywhere) but it is prohibitively difficult for all but the most dedicated in most places. NYC residents actually have something like a quarter or third of the carbon footprint of the average American because few of us have cars and our apartments are small. Isn't really a choice, it is just how the city is structured...and mostly not even because of any plan.

          Any way that these choices can be made easier makes it more likely people will make them. Most of us are creatures of habit and find it hard to get beyond that.

          FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. Read the PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT Newsletter

          by mole333 on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 09:07:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good Example of NYC (4+ / 0-)

            Yes, NYC folks have much smaller footprint due to cars actually being a hindrance in most cases.

            Your wording about "difficult for all but the most dedicated" it interesting.  You are actually correct, but I would add being dedicated is not so hard.  I live in a rural area of California and have little trouble using public transport and bike for a lot of my transportation.  But I would be seen as most as "the most dedicated". I guess the point of my diary is that being that dedicated is really a very small sacrifice.  I might point out that while using alternative transportation has its inconveniences, there are many positives that make up for the inconveniences, for one increased exercise that most of us need.

            Thanks for the good comment...

            •  I agree... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean, ashowboat, ybruti

              But I find it hard to convince people of that! I think there is a HUGE activation energy to such actions, but once made, it becomes the new habit and suddenly is easy. A somewhat related example is my wife and I spent years trying to find an affordable way to have good produce while living in NYC. Tried all kinds of inadequate (for us) options. finally we did the most obvious for our neighborhood which is to join our neighborhood food co-op, which is the largest food co-op in the country. Getting us to do it, despite having countless friends who were members, took 7 years. Finally we joined and though we find it a kind of annoying place, there is no doubt that it is the best option for us. Why didn't we just switch ages ago! And it makes our habits greener and healthier.

              I figure each diary like yours hopefully gets a handful of people changing. Eventually it might be a significant number.

              FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. Read the PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT Newsletter

              by mole333 on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 10:14:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Because we already are energy hogs, (3+ / 0-)

    it will be next to impossible to get Americans and Canadians to completely change our habits. But we will be using that energy more efficiently every year. Last year we doubled the installed solar base in the US. The only thing I disagree with in the diary is that a clothes line is solar-powered. I believe that the drying comes from the wind. You can dry clothes, to some extent, at night. Which leads me to believe that solar is not the whole story there.

    I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

    by doc2 on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 05:17:31 PM PDT

    •  Thanks doc (0+ / 0-)

      To be nit picky, wind energy is actually solar energy.  The sun provides the energy for all wind.  But good point about drying at night.  I am not sure where I got the name "linear solar powered clothes drier" but my geeky sense of humor makes me use it whenever I can.

      You may be correct that because we are such hogs that it will be next to impossible to get people off their fat asses to actually do something.  The huge increases in solar are quite encouraging, but we have a long way to go.  I am interested in seeing if solar thermal takes off in the next few years.  I have been trying to see if anyone has tried solar thermal (to generate electicity) on a small scale, or if it can only be done on a large scale.  

      •  A couple of years ago I thought (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ashowboat, maybeeso in michigan

        solar thermal looked more promising long-term than PV. But PV efficiences have gone through the roof, and cost per installed Watt has plummeted. Our installed base is now ~2 GW, compared to worldwide energy usage of 15,000 GW, so that gives some perspective to just how early this is. But the amount of energy imparted by the sun to the Earth's surface is orders of magnitude more than we use. Our eventual solution has just got to be solar (or a combination of solar and fusion).

        I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

        by doc2 on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 05:34:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  asdf (3+ / 0-)

      There is a certain portion of the time when the weather is inappropriate for drying clothing outdoors; when it's snowing or raining. You'd have to be pretty hardcore to try to line dry clothing outdoors in winter, although I've heard it's doable.

      And there's a certain percentage of the population who have hayfever severely enough that line drying is actually a health hazard during pollen seasons.

      But there's nothing like the scent and texture of clean clothes, fresh off the line!

      Fire Rick Snyder Weathering Michigan's recessions since the '70s.

      by jennifree2bme on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 03:37:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We have indoor clothes lines as well... (4+ / 0-)

      more like folding drying racks. We have lived in locations where drying outside can get your clothes dirty all over again (Nevada and the dust, for example) but our folding racks can be used inside or out, small apartment or big house. They are very, very practical and I wouldn't be without them.

      •  I used to put my clothes racks outside (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but this year the yard is inhabited by too many birds, and after rewashing a number of items I just put up the racks indoors.  I think drying on racks saves at least $20 a month, California electricity prices.

        The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

        by ybruti on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 06:37:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes we use indoor clothes racks in our garage (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        area for some things.

        I wish we could hang out our towels and sheets in the spring, summer, early fall at least but we live in a condo townhouse where the lawn is not is shared and no clotheslines allowed.

  •  It is certainly do-able. (4+ / 0-)

    we have a 3000 square ft house and were off grid for 13 years. We are now hybrid, having hooked up to the grid 4 years ago. We now use about 10kw/ day. We added a freezer and a real fridge as opposed to the awful Sunfrost we used to have, as well as AC and a dishwater.

    But even when we were solar, we had TV, computer, and most of the modern amenities. We just did not use them all at once. And we turn off lights as well as the TV and computer when not actively using them. Once you get used to turning off light, you will find that it's all you can do not to turn them off at other people's house. And of course, all our lights are compact florescent.

    We live in a very rural area-12 miles from the nearest grocery and 30 miles from the nearest town of 10,000. We have a 1996 Saturn which gets 40miles per gallon, and we make sure we have our list so we get everything done when we go to town.

    You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

    by sewaneepat on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 05:32:20 AM PDT

  •  Issue #1 -- we lack any control over (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    our political system, which has been sold to the highest bidder.

    •  I agree BUT (4+ / 0-)

      Yes you are correct about the fact that our political system has been sold to the highest bidder.

      BUT that is the biggest cop out to not take responsibility for your own over-consumption.  If we wait for our failing governments to act it will be too late.  We must lead by example!

      •  Yes we can all do our part and start locally (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ashowboat, maybeeso in michigan

        to promote energy conservation.  We are big on recycling everything possible. Many of our neighbors are not. But we recycle newspapers, plastic, glass and basically have bins in the garage for anything that can be recycled and we do that religiously as well as turning off lights, turning off the TV when not actively watching it and more.  

        Granted, people would say we need a new fridge and new washer/dryer as they are old and I am sure sucking electricity. We will do that but right now there is no money to buy new appliances. So we do what we can.
        We never do a small load of wash.

        But one thing I cannot give up is the AC but we have all new Air conditioners as we do not own this place and there is no central air. But temperature bothers me with my health issue and the doctor says I must have AC.

        •  Good for your recycling efforts (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maybeeso in michigan

          Like I said in the diary, while everyone can't do everything we all can do something.  I understand the AC needs for health very well.  Depending on your situation you might consider only cooling a portion of the house where you spend most of your time when it is hot.  This is the approach I use and it saves major energy.

          Keep up the recycling!!!

    •  True but... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ashowboat, maybeeso in michigan

      True, but we can still do a lot both by local political action (where you can have far more impact than on national politics) and by our own choices. You can find green energy solutions for your own house in most parts of the country (see here and here). I am a strong believer in individual action whatever the government does.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. Read the PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT Newsletter

      by mole333 on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 09:02:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like and tip and rec your diary, but this is DK (6+ / 0-)

    I never read anything here about reducing consumption only buying new gadgets to brag about or flying around to talk to other people flying around about carbon tax credits.

    I'm waiting for a diary on the carbon footprint of the people who traveled to Net Roots Nation. Aint going to happen.

    Affluent upper middle class Americans are the most energy guzzling creatures on the planet. All the screaming about BP, fracking, Salazar and Obama does nothing to change that, and I always assume those screaming the loudest are consuming the most.

    Sorry to be so negative. Thank you for living the way you do (good call on that Toyota ;-))

    "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 06:07:45 AM PDT

  •  There's a DK group called Living Simply (3+ / 0-)

    where I'm sure many readers would like to read this diary. I'd repost but I'm a follower not a member.

    "Don't fall or we both go." Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 06:11:24 AM PDT

    •  I will check out that group as a friend of mine (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ashowboat, maybeeso in michigan

      and myself were just talking about that. Of course, she lives more simply than me as she refuses to get internet solution, shuns computers, she will not even buy a DVD or other gadgets.  

      She lives very simply and she said she wishes she did not need a car but has to have one to get to work as she lives in a rural area with no public transportation.

      But other than her car, she lives very simply. I do not even think she has a microwave and she said she will never have internet service. She has been turned for jobs because she does not email is the only thing she said has been tough.

  •  Excellent diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ashowboat, maybeeso in michigan

    Living in California's hot Central Valley, I remember Cheney's fake energy crisis when the lack of electricity became a life-and-death issue for some, and those guys in Texas were laughing about it.  In response, the newspapers did a great job advising us how to conserve, and supermarkets printed electricity-saving advice on their paper bags.  In our two-story house we stopped using the dryer, used fans instead of air conditioning, replaced light bulbs, and built a solar oven out of cardboard.  Here the nights are usually cool or cold, so we can open the windows and find the house at 71 in the morning.  Even now when I see recipes to bake in the oven, I think "too much electricity" and wait for a sunny day so I can use my much-improved commercially made solar oven.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 06:57:10 AM PDT

  •  We do better than most, but... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ashowboat, maybeeso in michigan

    My family live in NYC and don't have a car, so we consumer far less energy than the average American. We also switched to all CFLs and to all wind power through ConEd Solutions (though I hear we can now do the same through Green Mountain Energy for somewhat less).

    But we need to replace our refrigerator and probably other appliances, something that we currently can't afford to do but still really should do.

    FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. Read the PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT Newsletter

    by mole333 on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 08:54:57 AM PDT

    •  Replacing old appliances (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mole333, maybeeso in michigan

      is a difficult decision.  First there is the individual economic costs decision.  But also it takes energy to make and transport the new appliance.  So while the new appliance will use less energy, you have to spend energy to make the new appliance.  This energy investment needs to be taken into account when replacing working older appliances.  I have never seen an in depth analysis of this, but my guess is if the new appliance is significantly more efficient than the older appliance that in the end there is a net savings.

      Anyone out there ever see a good analysis of this?

  •  Thanks for this. I wish you luck (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    with asking folks to negotiate their non-negotiable American way of life on a politically pragmatic website.

    The socially acceptable approach here is to tout some shining example of cutting edge techology, like algae batteries or geothermal nanobots that will allow us to happily motor from the shopping malls to our flame-broiled cheeseburgers free of that annoying global warming guilt.   As if the future promised a Prius-class of NASCAR.

    I'm sure someone will come along to remind you that when you speak of dwindling resources and a simpler way of living you are leading the Democratic party down the radical elitist road to unelectability.

    Nice diary, hope it gets the attention it deserves.


    An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin

    by martinjedlicka on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 12:12:05 PM PDT

    •  Thanks Martin (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I am still chuckling from your comment.  You are completely correct about DKOS, but unfortunately DKOS is just a sample of the overall population.  Actually, DKOS folks are a bit more receptive to this than the average American, but that is not saying much.

      I have gotten beaten down in other diary comment threads for having the gal to say that Americans are fat and lazy.  Seems most want to have the government magically fix things or someone else make the sacrifice.

      I knew I would get the reception I got with this diary, but I guess I am willing to at least try and change a few folks ideas about what it means to be an environmentalist.

      Thanks for the praise and the snarky comment!

  •  Ecomonic factors. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've often wondered what role the whole consumption of energy in the US affects the economy as a whole.  So much of 'modern' American only exists with an abundance of energy.  I expect that is why the government does little to make a difference.  No politician wants to be the guy telling people they shouldn't drive or turn the TV off and actually talk with your family.

    So your approach is the one that has the most likelihood of working.  Getting personal smart energy use (I think that works better than conservation on conservatives—oh, the irony!) to become commonplace will allow the bigger picture to evolve and not seem so scary and unknown. Imagine if every house had solar panels.  It should be required by the building codes.  Demand will drive the costs down and the innovation up, just as we've recently seen.  Tie them all into the grid and wow!

    Would we be so happy to have a military that dwarfs all others combined if it was a line item deduction on our paychecks next to FICA."

    by Back In Blue on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 12:17:36 PM PDT

    •  Agree Completely Back In Blue (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Back In Blue

      The economic aspect is indeed part of the picture.  It is quite complicated and I will admit that I don't exactly understand the ramifications if everyone dramatically cut energy usage.

      I have thought about the whole influence of the car culture on our economy and on one hand it has been a very important driving force for our expanding economy.  But I also look at how so many folks are slaves to their car payment, maintenance, and fuel.  Particularly lower income folks would not have to work so hard if they would set themselves up in a situation where they could get by without a car.  I just started a semi-retirement phase of my life and in a few years hope to fully retire.  When I do part of my plan is to set myself up in a location where I do not need a car at all.  This will make retirement much more feasible.

      Anyway thanks for the comment, completely agree that solar should be required for new construction in areas where it works well.

  •  I just read that Tivos and other set-top boxes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on top of the TV use enormous amounts of energy nationwide, because they're on 24/7/365 and don't have an effective sleep mode. They should be added to the list of items plugged into a power strip that's shut off when not in use.

    •  Great point nils (0+ / 0-)

      I read that many DVR's consume as much as a refrigerator!  That is crazy.

      One problem with putting some of these devices on a power strip is the boot up time can be quite long.  We use to have satellite TV (now get all I need over the internet) and I found that when I put it on a strip that on power up it would take almost 20 minutes to fully boot up.  It had to re-download the TV guide part is why I think it took so long.  This could be easily fixed by the manufacture, and is a case where the consumer should demand a fix.

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