Sunday, March 28, 2010

Some Successful Energy Efficiency Programs

The dilemma of any energy conservation programs is that increasing the efficiency of energy use generally leads to increased energy use. Jevons’ Paradox is named for William Jevons who wrote in 1865 that efficiency increases rather than decreases the amount of energy used. Homeowners with compact florescent light bulbs, efficient appliances, and well insulated homes will be tempted to use the money savings to leave the lights on longer or to turn the heat up higher in the winter. Energy conservation and efficiency programs must factor in this “rebound effect” in their long term planning.

Throughout the industrial era, economic growth has always been accompanied by increased energy use. As per capita GDP rises so does per capita energy use. So when people campaign for reductions in global warming gas emissions, critics complain that this will damage the economy, assuming that cuts in carbon based energy systems will inevitably result in economic decline. It is important that we find examples of countries that have been able to reduce energy consumption while still maintaining healthy economies.

Three countries, Japan, Denmark, and Switzerland, have implemented programs that have reduced per capita energy consumption while maintaining economic growth, breaking the traditional connection between the two.

In the 1980s, Japan’s per capita energy consumption declined as the oil crises forced them to pursue energy savings, just as in most industrial countries. In the early 90s, per capita energy consumption began to grow again along with the economy. But, since the mid 90s, Japan has broken the link between energy growth and economic growth. It has done so by implementing a set of comprehensive policies to promote energy efficiency and hard targets that must be reached.

Japan has tied responsibility for efficiency to all segments of the economy. As one example, vending machine owners typically aren’t concerned with the energy usage of their machines since the building owner pays the bills. The Japanese have mandated that the machine owner must now pay a portion of the electric bill along with the lease. As a result, efficiency of vending machines has increased by one third since the program was implemented.

The centerpiece of the Japanese program is a policy called the “Top Runner Program” which takes the most efficient make of machines as the standard for all others in the industry (including vehicles). When a new model increases efficiency, it becomes the base that all others must reach. Since the program was instituted energy efficiency improvement has been impressive, ranging from 20 percent among diesel freight vehicles to nearly 100 percent for computers.

Denmark also began an energy saving program after the 70s oil shocks, but unlike other countries that relapsed when prices dropped in the 80s, Demark persisted. Denmark has succeeded where others failed due to a combination of tough economic measures, taxes aimed at reducing energy use, and a push for creative energy savings innovations.

Danes pay the highest price for electricity of any industrialized country. As a result the average Dane uses less than half the electricity that the average American uses. Denmark also targets taxes on specific items to reduce energy use. For example, the registration fee for a new car is over 100 percent of the car’s value. In 1980 the Danish government began a policy of supporting combined heat and power, along with a strict new building code which is periodically tightened. This has led to a 20 percent reduction in the average Dane’s heating bill between 1975 and 2001.

As a result of these policies, the per capita energy use in Denmark has not increased since the 1970s while the per capita GDP has doubled.

Switzerland’s conservation program has been primarily voluntary although closely monitored. The government established a SwissEnergy Programme that aims to reduce fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

In the area of transportation, the SwissEnergy program consists of legally binding measures to promote efficiency, including a sliding scale of registration fees to favor fuel efficient vehicles. SwissEnergy promotes the refurbishment of buildings to meet standards that are twice as efficient as previous ones. The program is funded through carbon tax revenues. SwissEnergy has established feed-in tariffs to promote renewable energy and promotes the use of waste heat and biomass for heating in place of fossil fuels.

Switzerland had achieved the best performance over the last 20 years, showing close to a 20 percent per capita reduction of energy use while still maintaining a growing economy.

There are a variety of approached that can be used to forge a national energy efficiency policy, but it is an issue that must be addressed soon. The necessity of doing something about climate change combined with the looming peak of oil production leave us little choice other than formulating a national policy and reeling from crisis to crisis.


At 6:58 AM, Blogger batticdoor said...

How To Reduce Your Energy Bills / Energy Conservation Begins at Home

Imagine leaving a window open all winter long -- the heat loss, cold drafts and wasted energy! If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan or AC Return, a fireplace or a clothes dryer, that may be just what is occurring in your home every day.

These often overlooked sources of heat loss and air leakage can cause heat to pour out and the cold outside air to rush in -- costing you higher heating bills.

Air leaks are the largest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Air leaks occur through the small cracks around doors, windows, pipes, etc. Most homeowners are well aware of the benefits caulk and weatherstripping provide to minimize heat loss and cold drafts.

But what can you do about the four largest “holes” in your home -- the folding attic stair, the whole house fan or AC return, the fireplace, and the clothes dryer? Here are some tips and techniques that can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.

Attic Stairs

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add an attic stair cover. An attic stair cover provides an air seal, reducing the air leaks. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling.

Whole House Fans and AC Returns

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a whole house fan cover. Installed from the attic side, the whole house fan cover is invisible. Cover the fan to reduce heating and air-conditioning loss, remove it when use of the fan is desired.


A recent study showed that for many consumers, their heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter due to the air leakage and wasted energy caused by fireplaces.

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a fireplace draftstopper. Available from Battic Door, a company known for their energy conservation products, a fireplace draftstopper is an inflatable pillow that seals the damper, eliminating any air leaks. The pillow is removed whenever the fireplace is used, then reinserted after.

Clothes Dryer Exhaust Ducts

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a dryer vent seal. This will reduce unwanted air infiltration, and keep out pests, bees and rodents as well. The vent will remain closed unless the dryer is in use. When the dryer is in use, a floating shuttle rises to allow warm air, lint and moisture to escape.

If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan, an AC return, a fireplace, and/or a clothes dryer, you can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.

Mark D. Tyrol is a Professional Engineer specializing in cause and origin of construction defects. He developed several residential energy conservation products including an attic stair cover, an attic access door, and is the U.S. distributor of the fireplace draftstopper. To learn more visit

At 8:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a little over 1-year now I have been reviewing all of the various comments, blogs and reports regarding the renewable and clean energy discussion. Anyone that is truly interested in advancing the use of alternative energies needs to understand that it can actually happen if and only if, they start appealing to individual’s “common sense”.
When spoken about from a Political tone or even from a Social and Environmental voice, people tend not to want to listen. The fact is most people are disgusted with the political overtures thrown around the country. Once they get a sense that a politician is speaking of the subject, whether it be for the good or not, they tune out and the movement goes nowhere. The same rings true if spoken by an environmental activist type. The fact here is, most people do not want to be thought of as some “environmental greenie” type. Although, if the discussion were framed as an appeal to one’s “common sense” such as: 1) do you think we should STOP buying/importing oil from overseas…? Everyone spoken to would without a doubt answer emphatically YES! 2) Mention, are you aware that the U.S. uses 25% of the world’s oil but, can only produce 2% - so unless we do something else, we cannot stop importing the oil needed to survive. 3) Ask, are you aware that the U.S. Government, especially the military are currently using all sorts of renewable and clean energy to conduct their various businesses. 4) Express to the U.S. public that in China, only 1% of the population owns a car, yet the Chinese Government is aggressively pushing with big incentives its’ citizens to purchase automobiles, and that China’s population of course, is 3-times the size of ours – then ask, where do you think gasoline prices are going once their driving citizens get onboard? 5) Explain how by going renewable your electric bills will decrease. Of course however, if there is not a great demand for the renewable energy source, the prices are initially higher to the consumer but, if the demand were to arrive, prices would ultimately decrease, alas the way of “flat-screen televisions”.
The tone of the conversation must change if there is to be any headway made in the advancements of renewable energy. EVERYBODY would welcome the change if and only if, the texture of the discussion was different. Take a peek at a new site I discovered online,
It is my understanding that they are trying to change the texture of the discussion. Good for them, but better for the American people because, the current dialog hasn’t and isn’t getting us anywhere.

At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there any intelligent life out there?
Today down sunny Florida I noticed gasoline prices were closing in from below to $3.00 a gallon. It’s $2.83 for a gallon of Regular.
So here we are climbing out from the most recent financial collapse, and things are apparently getting better, as I for one do believe that things are getting better. This is not to say however, that the opposing forces to “change” will not be trying there hardest to stop the attempt towards “change’s” success. But, does anyone even realize that overall we are only $1.50 or so away from the most recent highs of gasoline.
To read the full balance of comment please go to; and follow us on facebook or follow all our blogs at:

At 5:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the health toll of these energy efficient programs?

How can human cells cope with increasing transients and harmonic overwaves?

I tried to figure it out:

At 12:58 AM, Blogger Michael said...

I like this post because it is informative and helpful to all readers. I would like to revisit this post.
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At 10:19 PM, Blogger mikesac said...

Sealing off air leaks, energy star rated hvac systems or wall ac units, efficient appliances, etc are all things we know we can do. It's just going to take time for everyone to fork over the money to purchase these things.

At 9:54 PM, Blogger vitalcom said...

What I want to know is when is the United States going to follow such examples as Demark, Japan, and Switzerland, where energy efficiency programs are concerned, also I read where Taiwan is committed to increasing there solar energy applications to encompass the entire island by 2025

At 2:54 PM, Blogger JoshCohenGSC said...

I absolutely agree with you, energy efficiency programs need to be stronger with better incentives for using energy efficient technologies. Lighting is an important factor when considering energy consumption, it is highly expensive for businesses with long hours of operation. To ensure expenses are not high and energy consumption is low there is a product that influences these things.The T5 Retrofit Kit is a great product to use for energy efficient lighting, can save up to 70% on lighting expenses when implemented. Check it out by going to this link:

At 2:54 PM, Blogger JoshCohenGSC said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6:50 AM, Blogger Carolyn said...

LED lights can be a very useful tool in your home, especially if you are environmentally conscious or want to save money in the long run. These savings can really add up.

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At 11:08 AM, Blogger Angelo said...

This is nice blog. I recommend using LED lights because it will help us to conserve energy and It last longer than ordinary bulb.
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At 6:57 AM, Blogger James E Lutz said...

Try Energy efficient windows in Arizona visit Efficient Home Pro. Those not only keep heat and cold out – they keep noise out. Your home is going to be quieter – much quieter.

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