Energy Efficiency Crucial for a Sustainable Future

Release time:2015-09-04 Click:349

How much attention do you really pay to your energy use?
“Lots of attention, I’ve installed a smart meter in my home,” you might cry. “It’s great, I’ve been able to see just how little it costs to run the tumble dryer!” See the problem here? We can develop all the technology in the world but we’ve still got a long way to go when it comes to overcoming the biggest barrier to a sustainable future – us!
Look through the archives of any government’s public education initiatives over the last 50 years and you’ll find an abundance of campaigns that have been key to sustaining our future: We’re now anti-drink driving, anti-tobacco, even anti-sugar.  Now we need to become anti-energy suckers. Energy waste and consumption awareness should be one of our top concerns. There is some awareness. Some are trying harder than others. But the cause hasn’t travelled fast enough. The truth is, we’re still too busy using it to care about it.

Energy efficient technologies around the globe to cut energy consumption. (Photo courtesy of GE)
But our energy consumption is directly linked to our survival as a species. And more than that, it tells the story of our cultural and technological development: in the last two centuries, we have almost exhausted our oil supply, changed the global climate, and still we are burning up 20,802 barrels of petrol every day.
It began with the Industrial Revolution. With mechanization and electricity, we created a ‘culture of labor-saving and efficiency’ using more and more technology. From steam-powered plants, to spinning wheels, milling machines, cars, airplanes and eventually computers and the Internet, our energy demands have become greater and greater over the years. It wasn’t long before fossil fuels alone could not satisfy our hunger for energy. In the 1890s, hydroelectric power became a significant new source of energy; followed by nuclear power in the late 1950s.
More recently, more sustainable energy sources – such as solar, wind, biomass or geothermal – have been studied, tested and applied. Research into fuel cell technology is growing; using chemical reactions to bypass the traditional furnace-turbine-generator method of electricity production. And alongside new energy sources, we are being smarter about how we use that electricity – ‘smart grid’ infrastructures are reducing waste, taking us a step closer to a truly sustainable planet.
In fact, we’ve made huge technological strides but alongside this, we now need more emphasis on also using less energy. We’ve had the nounce to develop the energy-creating and energy-using technology – but we haven’t yet got our heads around turning off the lights when we leave the office, or indeed reducing our reliance on a tumble dryer…
The sad reality is – that if you ask anyone who doesn’t have a specific interest in energy whether they have heard of World Energy Day, the answer is likely to be no.  There’s still huge gains to be made from basic education aimed at changing behaviours. So here’s hoping that the next government campaigns we see are aimed at truly opening our eyes to the importance of energy saving.