Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Whatever Happened to Simply Saving Energy?

Every page of the newspapers these days carries an ad exhorting people to be green, save the planet, reduce their carbon footprints, etc. etc.

I have no doubt that a similar spate of "green" ads also pervades the broadcast media (tho' I wouldn't know as I rarely watch TV).

It seems to me that ever since Jimmy Carter's failed exercise in exhorting the American public to save energy, saving energy has become synonymous with his reputation. Which is absurd. Why on Earth wouldn't an individual want to save energy if it also saves money (which it does!)? The simple economics of Carter's idea appears to have been lost on advertisers, who, after all, are not really interested in us saving anything when we can spend it on their products!

So the politicians have come up with a nice scam. Don't save yourself your hard earned money - save the planet instead. And in the process pay more taxes to the politicians.

Two examples of how to save energy and how not to:

First, ground source heat pumps. Good idea. Although there is an initial cost of installing the system this is not so high for new builds and is a genuine way to save energy costs for raising the temperature of water. What is more, it is effectively a solar energy heat source which has no adverse effect on the environment.

Second, wind farms and personal wind mills. Bad idea. The initial cost of wind mills has been shown to be uneconomic without high energy prices and subsidies. The proof of this is the fact that many "greens" are happy to pay more for "green" electricity! Second, when the wind isn't blowing the wind mills don't make electricity. But consumers (even the "greens") still expect to have an uninterrupted supply, so back up generators are needed. These cannot be switched on the moment the wind drops and so must use energy even when they are not needed. Wind mills, whether large or small, are visible, noisy and a danger to bird life. Though the latter two criticisms only apply when the rotors are moving!


Blogger Energy Boomer said...

Isn't is strange how "Just saving energy" get the job done. We keep more money in our pockets, reduce pressure on the climate and all with out the "help" of governments or politicians.

Birney Summers

4:02 PM  
Blogger Focalplane said...

Thanks, Birney, for your contribution! The simple answer is usually the right one. Otherwise known as Occam's Razor.

10:09 PM  

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