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A Word from John Hofmeister
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More Technology for Efficiency
Wednesday, April 21, 2010@ 2:30 PM
Author: admin

The most affordable energy is the energy we never use. When efficiency in the use of energy means that we use less, we save the costs of what we don’t use. We also defer the availability of that energy to the future. The most effective conservation that we could ever consider is that of adopting efficient technology in all of our devices, homes, vehicles and behavior patterns of energy use. There is essentially no limit to the potential for energy conservation and energy savings through technology and innovation. This can be a never-ending journey that can stimulate the minds and creativity of technologists, scientists, physicists, entrepreneurs, and consumers across the nation and around the world.

Citizens for Affordable Energy promotes increasing the efforts to not only research but also to apply the benefits of research in the applications of energy use throughout society. The range of impact is enormous. How we use our land, plan our cities, organize our communities, schools, transport systems, home and building construction, populate our homes and other buildings with appliances, electronics, lighting, and how we use them for our own purposes are all subjects within the realm of technology for efficiency.

We’re coming off an era of both waste and inefficiency. As we discovered uses for electricity and improvement in life styles from the 19th century and as we discovered the joys and pleasures of mobility through cars, trucks, planes and trains, we also had an abundance of energy to explore everything we wanted to discover. In more recent years the rest of the world has been emulating the U.S. in this process of discovery. As a result there has been a faster growth in demand for energy than in supply of energy. The consequence has been rising prices and growing worries about availability.

Let’s consider some of the more wasteful practices of older energy technology. We can start with the internal combustion engine that propels our cars. It’s been around for a hundred plus years. It is about 20% efficient by design. It means for every $100 of gas we purchase, $20 dollars gives us mobility; $80 is wasted as heat. Now we have seen improvements over the years and automakers keep working on improved miles per gallon. And we will have the ICE with us for decades to come. But technology could change the source of mobility power. Batteries or hydrogen fuel cells hold promise, for example. Another example is the homely incandescent light bulb. It’s been around a long time. It’s served us well. It uses 3% of the energy consumed to give us light. 97% of the energy is wasted as heat. Congress decided in 2007 to phase out certain incandescent light bulbs to be replaced by light emitting diodes (LED’s) or the new low energy fluorescent lamps which can be substituted for incandescent. Double pane vs single pane windows are a basic example in the construction of homes and other buildings that provide significant energy savings. New designs of appliances are more energy efficient. The practical day to day list goes on. The potential is extraordinary, if we choose well.

But what we have lacked is an effort to look at technology and innovation over the short, medium and long term future and to incorporate the possibilities of far-reaching technology efforts as part of a national plan for energy. Citizens for Affordable Energy is prepared to put forth a comprehensive and coherent plan in consultation with American citizens for political leadership to consider. Working closely with universities, research centers, entrepreneurs and manufacturers of products, architects and construction companies, urban and city planners, and the public at large, we believe citizens can benefit from sound, factual information upon which to make rational choices. When it comes to improving the efficient use of energy through technology and innovation, we hope to play a role in informing future choices.

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