Sustainable Energy is Also Less Energy

cool-nrg-international-flickrEnergy efficiency is one of the key concepts for a sustainable world. While we look for sustainable sources of energy, it’s also crucial to spend less energy. Software and product designers, architects, engineers, utilities, government and society as a whole can do their bit to reduce humanity’s use of energy and create a power smarter world. It’s a short-term way to reduce carbon emissions.

And it’s happening.

Last Friday, the Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec), a FirstEnergy’s subsidiary serving 590,000 customers across 31 Pennsylvania counties, launched a program designed to incentivize its business customers to reduce their power consumption. The Pennsylvania Act 129 Demand Response Program will pay those customers to spend less energy this summer. The initiative is a response to a state requirement (Act 129) to reduce peak demand by 4.5 per cent between June 1 and September 31 during the top 100 hours of energy demand.

Several providers will support the program, including ClearChoice Energy, Customized Energy Solutions, Energy Connect, Energy Curtailment Specialists, EnerNOC, Hess Energy Solutions, Key Tex Energy and Net Peak.

Businesses that reduce their energy consumption are in for a nice financial reward. Douglas Elliott, FirstEnergy’s president of Pennsylvania operations, said that a participant who reduces their average peak power demand by 350 kilowatts for 12 to 15 days could rake in $10,000.

It’s not just utilities that are promoting energy efficiency, though. One start-up has made energy efficiency its core mission. Energy Results, based in Chicago, helps its customers to save energy by providing them with energy efficient solutions.

In this interview, Energy Results CEO Anthony Domel highlighted that switching from incandescent light bulbs to CFLs can save up to $140 per year, with an equivalent payback period. CFLs use less energy to produce the same brightness as higher voltage incandescent lights, and they last ten times longer.

Another opportunity to introduce energy saving measures at home is using a programmable thermostat. A great deal of energy is wasted through bad cooling and heating practices. Homeowners can save up to $94 per year when they use a programmable unit. Improving insulation and weatherizing the home also help.

Energy Results helps its customers to lead more sustainable lives by creating a customized plan, beginning with a thorough energy audit, which is free of charge. If every household became energy efficient, the environmental gains would be enormous.

Domel said that with an improvement of 25-30%, we could reduce 6,811 pounds of CO2 per year. If we multiply that by 130 million American households, we would save 443 million tons of CO2 per year. That equals to planting 64 billion trees, or 6% of the US total of carbon emissions.

Image credit: Flickr/Cool NRG