The next time you open a window because the heat is too high in your office, or you drive a mile to the health club to use an electrically powered stair stepper, ask yourself a question: Does the solution to the energy crisis depend on the Persian Gulf?
The real solution to the energy crisis is here. We in the United States use one fifth of all the oil burned in the entire world everyday. We now import one half of that oil, 25 percent off if from the OPEC nations.
Unfortunately, quite apart from the tragic costs of war, war is only a short-term approach. In the very slightly longer run, the problem of who controls the oil will be overwhelmed by the disappearance of oil altogether. According to World Resources Institute, the earth’s known oil reserves will last only a little more than four decades.
Since our supply won’t change, our consumption must. Why should we remain so vulnerable to the oil-producing governments when we can protect our jobs, our freedom and our way of life simply by taking responsibility for changing our own behavior? And it won’t even be very difficult.
Furthermore, they say, we already know how to do it, because we did it once already.
In the early seventies, an OPEC-inspired oil crisis prompted a serious national conservation effort. We turned out the lights, insulated our houses, and received tax support for the development of alternative energy sources such as solar power and windmills. And we got results.
Though not sufficient, that saving was a start. But it’s a gain we’re now squandering. The real challenge lies on how to find ways that we can use less energy without sacrificing our standard of living. The answer: to make little changes, but a lot of them.
Here are the surefire fourteen ways to cut down the energy consumption:
- Drive small cars – preferably no larger than 2,500 pounds. Use energy-efficient, steel-belted radial tires. Give up the air-conditioning – besides leaking pollutants into the air while you’re using it, it adds gas-draining weight all year round. Regular tune-ups can reduce fuel needs up to 9 percent. Make sure your garage uses recycled motor oil.
- Don’t speed. Aside from safety considerations, driving at 65 mph uses nearly 20 percent more fuel than going at 55 mph. At 75 mph your gas mileage is lower than if you were going just 15.
- Carpool and use mass transit. If we could avoid only 10 percent of the miles we travel each day. 600,000 barrels of oil per day would be saved.
- Turn off some lights. This is very economical and so easy to do. At home, just switch off the lights if you are no longer using them. You will be amazed how much you can save just by doing this.
- Plan your lighting. It pays to plan ahead on the structure of your lightings. Try to focus on the efficiency and the number of lights needed.
- Buy compact fluorescent bulbs. They last more than ten times as long as traditional bulbs and use one-quarter of the energy. One such bulb in every household would save the equivalent of one nuclear power plant’s yearly output.
- Recycle gas. What’s that got to do with energy? The energy saved by the rebirth of one glass bottle will light a 100-watt bulb for four hours.
- Wrap up your water heater. Once it’s inside an insulated wrap, turn it down from the usual 140 degrees to 130. The water is still shower-hot, but you’ve saved up to 6 percent in heating energy.
- Save for a new refrigerator. New models are one and a half times more efficient than those produced just fifteen years go.
- Organize your refrigerator. If the mineral water is always ion the same place, you save on open-door search time.
- Keep the freezer full, even if you have to fill it with jugs of water. A full freezer recovers its temperature more quickly after the door is opened and shut.
- For your new gas stove, choose automatic electronic ignition rather than a pilot light. It consumes 40percent less energy.
- This summer, set your air conditioner six degrees higher than last year. If we all do, we’ll save 190,000 barrels of oil per day.
- Ride a bicycle to the health club. Done daily, it’s a real contribution to the future.
These changes, in mind and habit and technology, depend not on research breakthroughs, but on our own willingness. To encourage us, the government should offer a much more sweeping program of tax incentives for those who purchase energy efficient cars, home insulations, appliances, etc. But go ahead and do the right thing anyway. It’s your money saved and your children’s world.