The Silver Bullet

January 2, 2009 | 4 Comments

Happy New Year! For getting you started I’m going to give you the heads up on the silver bullet for new energy and fuel that works for you, right now and always.

Regular readers will know its efficiency. Use less. Now for the rest of the story as I’ve heard on the radio from Paul Harvey for what seems like decades now.

It’s a safe bet that the economy will recover which means that demand for petroleum products will recover. Last time crude got to $147 and change so its a likely guess that the next price peak will go way past that – and wreak the economy worldwide again.

But you can be ready more s0 than last time. The silver bullet is in the big energy users, the transport, home heating and cooling, hot water and lighting. Plus a little habit adjustment will help.

Personal transport upgrades can also have a huge positive effect on the economy. The President-Elect owes the unions in a big way for winning and they mean to collect by getting the automakers bailed out. It will be another item we force on the kids, so wouldn’t it be better for lots of people who can to buy a car? Now I fully realize that most folks regard Toyota, Honda, Volvo, Mercedes and others to be superior, and they are in people’s minds, but the hard facts to support the view are getting very hard to find. U.S. manufacturers have closed the gap. Actually some of the latest models incorporate much of the world engineering skills of American manufacturers. By any real test, Ford for example, is a world powerhouse manufacturer with a much better reputation outside of the U.S. than within.

About half or a little more, of the salaries and wages paid in the U.S. are paid by governments to people. For them to get food and other products most everyone else will have to be at work so there isn’t much reality that the economy will collapse as in the 1930s. It very well could be bad, but the extent of the bad, barring more screwups by the government, doesn’t look particularly likely. So at least a large percentage of the population could support the economy if the motives are there.

Personal transportation choices do include high efficiency models. They should be sold out, but no longer are. While 60-MPG vehicles anyone would want to buy don’t exist, 30 plus MPG cars do.

Then the heating and cooling of the home and providing hot water need checked. First is to get tested for air leakage and do the tightening up. Once that’s done which also creates sales of products and supports jobs, a look into the hardware could be in order. I just did a quick look and the major furnace, air conditioning and HVAC products will surprise you. Some even exceed the “Green Star” requirements. If you can justify the upgrade, this too is an economy booster.

Hot water production at home is getting attention. Most everyone has a tank heater that runs to keep the tank hot to answer demand. New units that heat only at demand are much more efficient and have pretty good paybacks. More jobs, more economic boosting.

The list is almost endless.

You can even remember to unplug those chargers when not in use. Did you know virtually all of them use just as much current when plugged in whether or not they are doing anything?

There are lighting choices to try, other appliances to upgrade, lots of things that can save those joules for a later day. Learning and doing then paying it forward to others is the silver bullet. Keep in mind, that after payback the savings are available for disposable income, investment or more savings. Freezing up now might seem safer and admittedly could be, but I’m spending on saving so helping the economy along.

Here are a couple of articles that are about as opposite in perspective as I can tolerate.

I am a fan and appreciator of the caliber of information at Back on December 2, Holly Kaufman and Jon W. Slangerup wrote “Why the Recovery Must Be Green.” These two do a professional job of making the case for getting in gear making efficiency a market with energy and fuels themselves.

At the other extreme is Michael Grunwald writing in Time Magazine – a bastion of slant and bias beyond my boundary – which has nevertheless managed to produce a piece well worth a review. “Wasting our Watts” points out that we’ve already made considerable progress with much much more available. Grunwald quotes Ian Bowles, Massachusetts energy and environmental affairs secretary who says, “We’ve hit rock bottom in our addiction to fossil fuels. We need an intervention, and energy efficiency is it.”

OK, the Time piece is riddled with bias, but the realities are true, from raw material production to manufacturing, on to retailing and consumption the potential for more efficiency is stunning. Things as important as just getting the computers set to power down (Start-Control Panel-Power Options is the place in Windows) makes significant differences to your base power draw and utility bill. Grunwald covers a lot of turf – and it bodes well that these matters get major media space.

So the New Years Resolution here is more efficiency. I have already gotten a Kill-A-Watt meter and have shaved nearly 10% off the monthly electric bill, a little more than the price increase. Now I’m saving and angling for an on demand water heater.

What about you?


4 Comments so far

  1. Scott Townsend on January 2, 2009 2:00 PM

    There is an idea I would like to share with other readers of this article. There is a more efficient alternative to the on demand water heater mentioned in the article and that is the heat pump water heaters.

    Heat pump water heaters require 60% less energy then an on demand water heater using gas or electricity. With the heat pump water heater the idea is to move heat energy instead of generating heat energy from scratch. The heat energy can come from geothermal, solar thermal, waste heat exchanger, composting piles,….

    There are a few problems.
    –The heat pump water heater requires a holding tank.
    –The heat energy source needs to be warm enough for the heat pump to be efficient.

    Heat pump water heaters are another option for reducing home energy use.

  2. ADVILL on January 3, 2009 10:54 PM

    If USA is not getting 30 MPG is not because there are lack of technologies for it, smaller and lighter cars, use of diesel, fuel tax are available today.
    a carbon footprint police related to AC, heating,insulation, sustainable practices, grid loss of energy, nuclear 3r.generation plants, transportation etc can be implemented today, is just a matter of political will.

    America can eliminate the equivalent of Venezuela and Mexico oil shipments in 5 years and 35% of the total daily use in 10

  3. Brian Westenhaus on January 4, 2009 5:43 PM

    Thanks Scott! But here Lowes, Home Depot, Menard’s and local plumbers are drawing blanks for heat pump water heaters. I suspect that’s similar to most of the U.S.

    So call and ask so they wise up to having information and pricing.

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