Yes. You, the consumer, are more affective than the government at controlling carbon. Here are some simple, low cost things you can do… In many markets, local utility distribution companies are installing smart meters on homes, apartments and offices to help consumers monitor energy usage and voluntarily control at home and or via the Internet. I urge Big Coal, Big Oil and Big Natural Gas to support these low cost energy efficiency programs at a cost to you of $250 per household. The return on investment, assuaging need for regulation and legislation and the positive image it will give you will help in a bitter policy tussle.
You do have to buy a reader for your living room so you can get the data. It tracks energy usage by hour, day of week, month and time of year, year to year. Many distribution power companies have voluntary targets to help consumers reduce energy consumption in their home by 10% per year. There is also a voluntary option to allow the company to turn off things like washer and dryers during hot summer days to avoid rolling brown and black outs.
I previously was not a big fan of energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs. Incandescent light bulbs are being phased out of the market in the next few years. Both bulbs contain toxics or a poison, especially to pets and children but also adults. The fluorescents cost $10 per bulb, far more cost effective than cheap environmentally dangerous incandescent light bulbs. Generation 3 compact fluorescent light bulbs are much better at approaching the normal range of day sun light so you avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder year round. They save 75% of your light bulb electricity and last 5 years. Incandescent light bulbs are fragile, toxic, short lived and hard to remove from carpeting.
I am in favor of compact light fluorescent bulbs when managed and recycled instead of tossed into a landfill. As far as living in the dark or switching to a lower watt bulb, the affect is minor for the severe life style change, like sadness and vision problems, it brings.
Buying new home appliances and electronic devices will more than offset and actually reduce your energy bill, even if you keep several lights on all day because you work or stay at home. You may have your energy efficient refrigerator on “1” but try cutting it in half to one quarter between “Off” and “1”, you could $40 per month on your electric bill, your food tastes better and lasts longer.
Behavior modification does not achieve as much for carbon reduction as buying new more efficient technology and getting an energy audit. Audits are free from most local power suppliers but in some places you must pay a qualified professional. They can quantify how much money it will cost, the return on investment and break even and savings point in terms of dollars, years and energy saved, well worth the time and any cost.
There are also Smart Power Strips offered by National Grid and EFI of Westborough, Massachusetts that save 75% of your electric bill (Nstar.com). Very cost effective and carbon lowering affective. There is a hot plug for you CPU or TV, then 2 to 4 warm plugs for Modems, Printers, DVRs, and the like,. This is where National Grid estimates an immediate 75% energy saving, untapped around the United States, could easily meet our 2020 target of a 20% carbon output cut with saved money now, no new plants, and increased research in Clean Coal, expanded penetration of natural gas and propane cars and trucks and wind, solar and tidal, as in Europe, New Zealand and China.
Many utility markets are deregulated now and allow you to choose what type of source you want to generate your energy, an aging coal plant or a new clean natural gas fired plant or growing Renewable sources like solar, wind, tidal and hydro. The more of us who purchase Renewable generating sources, the more private investment it will bring to sustain them.
So, you can do a great deal more than the Government can to slowly change carbon patterns. Real, myth, deadly, delayed, unknown or otherwise. It just is plain, common sense and saves money now.
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