Understanding the Potential for Conservation and Efficiency

Understanding the potential of some specific energy conservation technologies is helpful in understanding the potential for conservation overall.

Technologies for residential consumers include:

Compact fluorescent light bulbs – save 75% vs incandescant.   LED’s, which are improving constantly, but aren’t ready for prime time yet, offer even bigger savings.
Front load washers – save 40-50% vs. top load, and reduce water and detergent use by a similar amount.

New refrigerators – save 60% compared to a 15 year old refridgerator, as better compressors and insulation has improved performance.  Be sure to recycle your old refridgerator properly due to ozone depleting CFC’s.

Motion sensors for outdoor trouble lights – saves 95% – why leave lights on when you aren’t using them?  Lights that come on in response to motion also offer better security, as neighbours are more likely to notice them.

Ground source heat pumps – uses the energy in the ground to dramatically improve the efficiency of heating.  Reduces electricity used for heat by 66-75%, and for cooling by 50%, and offers free hot water during the summer.
Solar thermal hot water – uses the sun to gather heat for pre-heating of hot water.  Reduces energy use for hot water by 50-60%.

Insulation/building codes – the recently passed Ontario building code will reduce energy consumption in new homes by 25%.

Low flow shower heads/faucet aerators – 50% decrease in hot water use.

Set back thermostats – 5-10% reduction in heating costs, as the temperature difference at night between outside and inside is reduced, thus reducing heat losses.

LCD computer screens reduce energy consumption by 75% compared to CRT’s.

In the commercial sphere, lighting costs can be reduced by 35% by changing from T12 fluorescent tubes to T8’s.  Deep lake cooling reduces electricity required for air conditioning in downtown Toronto by 90%.  Day lighting can decrease lighting expense by 70% in retail stores.  Industrial savings can be achieved by the use of new variable speed pumps and motors, and all of the technologies used in commercial facilities.  Co-generation can often achieve tremendous savings.
So the technologies to achieve a drastic reduction in consumption exist.  Anyone who says Canada cannot achieve Kyoto, or reduce electricity consumption dramatically, is not aware of the power of the technologies available to achieve savings.  Being aware of the technologies, is the first step in figuring out how to deploy them.  And it is deployment, not technology, that is the challenge.

But deployment is for another Blog entry.

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