According to Paul Comet, Houston scientist, newly-appointed Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz got his tenure off to a good start with his first public speech last month at the 2013 Energy Efficiency Global Forum. In his speech, Moniz said that climate change was “not debatable,” and stressed an emphasis on energy efficiency going forward.
“Let me make it very clear that there is no ambiguity in terms of the scientific basis calling for a prudent response on climate change,” said Moniz, who was sworn in as the thirteenth Secretary of Energy on May 13. “I am not interested in debating what is not debatable.”
Moniz’s statements reflected a recently released study which found that the majority of the scientific community agrees on climate change. The study, published May 15 in the journal “Environmental Research Letters,” found that of the 12,000 peer-reviewed climate studies surveyed, 97% of scientists agreed on the causes behind climate change, including the contention that humans are a key contributing factor.
Moniz stressed the need for greater energy productivity, calling for energy efficiency to be moved “way, way up” in the Department of Energy’s priorities.
“Efficiency is going to be a big focus going forward,” he said. “I just don’t see the solutions to our biggest energy and environmental challenges without a very big demand-side response.”
Moniz’s sentiments echoed President Obama’s February State of the Union address, in which he called on the country to cut the “energy wasted by our homes and businesses” in half by 2030. According to Moniz, as the Department of Energy moves forward, it will work with both states and regions to meet that goal, concentrating on several key factors including focusing on vehicle efficiency, alternative fuels and vehicle electrification in order to reduce U.S. dependence on oil, focusing on both building efficiency and improvements in the manufacturing sector, and facilitating the development of new appliance standards.
Paul Comet, Houston Scientist: Save Energy At Home
While energy efficiency needs to be solved on a large scale, there are a number of different things individuals can do to save energy at home and help the environment, says Paul Comet, Houston scientist. Despite the common public perception, going “green” at home doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive; in the long run, it can actually help you save money.
You may not know it, but if your appliances are plugged in they’re constantly drawing power, even when they’re not in use, says Paul Comet, Houston scientist. Such power is known as “phantom loads,” and can make up a significant part of your energy bill. According to the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, the average home contains 40 products that are constantly drawing power. These appliances may account for as much as 10% of the home’s energy use. To ward against phantom loads, unplug small appliances, like lamps, phone chargers, computers, and so forth, when they’re not in use. To make this process easier, invest in a power strip and turn them all off at once.
Switch Light Bulbs
Replacing your light bulbs with energy-saving ones can make a big difference on the environment and on your wallet. According to the Department of Energy, replacing 15 traditional light bulbs with energy-saving ones will save you $50 a year, and more than $600 in energy costs over the life of the bulbs. Additionally, it’s a good idea to use natural light whenever possible, which will eliminate the need for lamps.
Use Cold Water
Heating plays a big part in your energy bill, says Paul Comet, Houston scientist. According to the Department of Energy, the average household in America uses 64 gallons of water each day, and spends $400 to $600 in water heating each year, which amounts to the second largest expense in the average home and accounts for 14 to 18% of the average home’s utility bill. Taking little steps like lowering the water heater’s temperature can make a big difference in the amount of energy your home uses. One of the most basic steps individuals can take to decrease energy use and their heating bills is washing laundry only in full loads and washing in cold water whenever possible. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 85 to 90% of energy used by washing machines goes towards heating the water.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat can help you save money on your heating and cooling bills by adjusting the temperature in your home on a pre-set schedule. In the winter, you can keep your home warm when you’re in it, and the thermostat will keep it cooler when you don’t need the heat, such as when you’re away from home. The same is true for the summer months: you can keep your AC on while you’re in the house, and the thermostat will keep your home warmer when you’re on vacation. According to the Department of Energy, turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours can save you 5 to 15% a year on your heating bill.
Improve Your Insulation
According to the Department of Energy, 54% of the average home’s energy consumption goes towards heating and cooling rooms. When a home is not properly insulated, leaks around doors, windows, and in the attic and basement cause cold air to slip out in the summer and warm air to slip out in the winter, driving up these heating and cooling bills. The Department of Energy estimates that such drafts can waste up to 30% of energy use. To ensure that your house isn’t wasting money, Paul Comet, Houston scientist recommends improving your insulation in the basement and attic, and finding and plugging leaks around windows and doors.
Paul Comet, Houston scientist, is dedicated to the study of climate control. Comet has a Bachelor of Science in geology, a Master of Science from the University of London, and a PhD in organic geochemistry from the University of Bristol. He focuses mainly on finding a solution to climate change through alternative energy, regulating greenhouse gases and waste management.
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