This list of action items for individual energy savings is the most focused and quantitative I’ve seen. It comes from an October 2008 article in Environment Magazine by Gerald Gardner, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Paul Stern from the National Research Council.
The actions in the list are grouped by whether they’re for transportation or inside the home, immediate or longer-term, and no-cost/low-cost or higher-cost. Each item also includes an estimated percentage savings of total energy use. Here’s an example of an immediate, no-cost action for everyone:
Heat: Turn down thermostat from 72°F to 68°F during the day and to 65°F at night
A/C: Turn up thermostat from 73°F to 78°F
Energy saved: 3.4 percent
Compare that to the language from the Department of Energy’s “Tips to Save Energy Today: Easy low-cost and no-cost ways to save energy,” from their Energy Saver’s Booklet (full PDF):
Install a programmable thermostat [...]
Here’s a picture from What You Need to Know about Energy by the National Academy of Sciences. It shows 100 energy units of coal being used by an incandescent bulb to produce light that has only 2 energy units:
Reprinted with permission from "What you need to know about energy," 2008, by the National Academy of Sciences, Courtesy of the National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
Incandescent bulbs get hot because only 2/36 (about 5%) of the energy coming into the house to power the bulb comes out as light — the rest of the energy produces heat. If you trace the energy back to the power plant, it turns out a mere 2% of the energy from the coal is doing the desired lighting job! The power plant itself loses 62% of the coal’s energy! Compact fluorescents use about 5% of the coal’s energy — better, but not much.
It’s important [...]
This request came from my friend Graham Hill at Treehugger:
I am wondering if we are not quite looking at the right metrics when it comes to buildings being green. And i’d be interested in your thoughts. and ideas about who would really know a lot about the lifecycle/energy considerations of buildings.
Here’s what I think we should be looking at from a carbon perspective: I think we want a measurement of CO2 Emitted per person hour. Here’s how you might figure it out:
(Total Building CO2) = (CO2 of Embodied energy of materials used) + (CO2 of Energy used in construction) + (CO2 of Energy used throughout building’s life) + (CO2 of Energy used to disassemble bldg at end of life) – (CO2 of Embodied Energy of materials reclaimed at end of building’s life)
(Total Building Person Hours) = (Number Building “Users” (density)) x (Hours Used Per Person)
Figure these out and then [...]