Apparently, some green tech and environmental advocates are now asking whether energy efficiency will lead to us to use even more electricity. I guess this is the “now that we’ve saved we can consume more” way of thinking—like rationalizing the post-exercise ice cream.
Articles on both Greentech Media and GE websites put forth this incredibly silly theory. I now have to wonder about so-called environmental advocates questioning and trashing the energy efficiency movement, which has been proven to be essential to both fighting global warming and saving people money. (Also see why Treehugger would rather we embrace a completely unrealistic plan instead of making our homes more energy efficient, which happens to be entirely realistic.) Could there be some hidden motives to their so-called journalism?
While saving electricity overall does make more of it available to use, especially in developing nations where there are areas hungry for more power, this whole irresponsible theory implodes when presented with facts.
Duh! Usage Will Increase Anyway
By nearly all predictions, our overall electricity usage will go up, up, and up anyway—even as we make our appliances and devices more and more energy efficient. Rising electricity demand will be partly the result of devices with higher processor speeds and power, and more software and applications that require more bandwidth and memory—especially video. Unless we suddenly decide to give up our appliances and big-screen TVs and computers and precious electronics, our demand for electricity will rise regardless. So are we not supposed to make these things as energy-efficient as possible?
And don’t forget that precious icon of the energy-conscious environmentalist: the electric vehicle. Won’t it be great when we all have them and can save all that gas by using much more electricity? Electric charging is greener and cheaper than gas, but it will result in a lot more electricity consumption. And that will require more energy efficiency technologies.
Let us also consider that by all predictions, electricity rates are expected to increase in coming years as well, by as much as 12 percent or more. There are several factors for this: demand, limited supply, more costly solar and wind power and their distribution, utility investments in smart grid technologies, and more.
In our perfect, smart grid world of the future, we’ll all be charged time of use rates by our utilities, in which electricity usage during peak times like 3 to 8 pm, will be priced much higher. Think we’ll want energy efficiency technologies like energy management and home automation systems that can help us save money then? You bet we will.
The biggest driver for energy management in the home, says Thomas Pickral, director of business development for HAI (Home Automation Inc.), which sells home control and energy management systems for smart grid rollouts, is the pricing by electric utilities. Time of use rates will create a ton of demand for in-home energy management and other energy efficient technologies.
Face the Energy Efficiency Reality
For God’s sake, people, we have to stop running away from the reality that energy efficiency has to be at the center of our efforts to reduce global warming and to save on our escalating energy costs. Solar, wind and all the other big green ideas can’t do it without energy efficiency. This is why energy efficiency should be the centerpiece of all countries’ energy policies.
At least the Greentech Media and GE articles acknowledge the potential of energy efficient technologies:
Home networking and automation may finally become a reality. The driving force? Putting your heater and/or air conditioner on autopilot can reduce power bills.
Let me just add this: BY A LOT.
And that’s only the beginning. We can use home control and automation to program appliances to cycle at less expensive times, to cut power to electronics and other devices when they’re not being used, to move energy from solar panels or EV batteries around the house, and to generally use our energy much wiser.
I remain puzzled by the motives behind these identical articles. Greentech Media and GE may just be trying to stir up a controversy. I know first hand from talks with GE executives that they believe home control and automation is key. After all, they’re trying to market a “connected home” energy management system, to automatically control everything from appliances to GE’s own EV chargers.