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The 10% Challenge

I’m going to challenge my family that we reduce our energy usage by 10% every year. I think it’s easily achievable, and if every family in developed countries did the same we would be having some different conversations about energy usage and global warming.

As I’ve mentioned before, the assumption that bothers me the most is that our governments continue to think that we need to continue to increase our energy production. But in the developing world at least there is so much room to reduce energy usage it’s frankly insane. I haven’t seen any detailed calculations but it’s simple math that if we were all able to reduce usage by 10% we could at least hold usage constant, even with an increasing population.

I’ve been tracking our household electricity usage since we moved into our new house four years ago and we’ve actually managed to reduce consumption by 20% in the past year. All we’ve been doing is replacing 75W incandescent bulbs with 13W CFL equivalents as they burn out. Yes, the CFL’s take a few seconds to warm up but the savings add up quickly. And the way I see it we’ll start replacing CFL’s with LED as their price comes down. So from a lighting perspective 10% a year is easily achievable.

We also have appliances that are 10 years old or so and those will be replaced with more energy efficient versions over the next 10 years. If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend high efficiency front-loading washer and drier machines such as those produced by Miele. They not only use less energy, water, and detergent but they also get your clothes cleaner. A 10% reduction per year is easy here too.

And then there are miscellaneous appliances. We have our TV’s, DVD’s and computers on powerbars and we turn off the powerbars when they aren’t being used. And we put our computers in standby when we can. If we have to buy a new computer we’ll pay attention to energy usage, and eventually I’d like to replace our old monitor with a LCD display. So I’m confident we can reduce 10% per year here too.

As for vehicles, I ride my bike as much as I can and we own a Prius Hybrid. The more I drive the Prius the more I marvel at the insanity of the number of cars running while we’re sitting at lights or in slow traffic. Being an engineer I could easily see how a further 10% per year could be squeezed out of the current Prius design and with our governments finally getting serious about making cars more efficient the manufacturers finally have incentive.

All in all, I’m optimistic. A 10% reduction in energy is easily achievable through easy steps. We could do even more, perhaps 15% on average. Are you up to the challenge?

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