While serving in the Navy, I was charged with finding opportunities to reduce costs in order to free up resources for operations. My team quickly discovered that energy and water were the most lucrative areas for savings, principally because of our wasteful behaviors. We took steps to reduce electricity consumption by 42% and, over 4 years, saved 3 billion gallons of water. These actions translated to millions of dollars in cost savings.
While our homes and business are considerably less energy and water intensive than the Navy, we can undertake efforts on an individual level to help conserve our finite resources and protect our national security. Moreover, there are many advancements in energy and water conservation technologies that can help homeowners more cost-effectively achieve these goals.
Climate change & water
Most of California is experiencing an extreme to exceptional drought, brought on by climate change and bad behaviors. However, we all can make small changes in our daily use of water that can have large impacts. One example, with the average shower in the U.S. being 13 minutes, if just two-thirds of us reduced showers by three minutes, we’d save about 7,000 acre-foot of water daily. That’s enough water for nearly 20,000 households for a year.
As homeowners we need to understand our water usage and stop wasteful practices. For example, if you have a leaky faucet, you could be wasting 18-30 gallons a day. Left unchecked that’s nearly four 55-gallon drums every week. Water-saving tips and technologies exist for everything from dual-flush toilets to zero-waste reverse osmosis units and shower monitors. Many innovations are coming onto the market to help ameliorate our water problems. Some companies even offer equipment to make your own water from the air.
All of us can conserve water and by using less water, we conserve energy. Twenty percent of California’s energy is produced to move, treat and use potable water of which 40 % goes down the drain never being used for its intended purpose.
. . . and energy
Our fossil fuels are a finite resource. At the current rate of consumption within the U.S., they are likely to come to an end in my grandchildren’s lifetime. The closer we get to that situation, the more likely it will lead to economic instability and certain conflict.
There is hope. Our economy can transition more quickly to one based on renewable energy, something California is striving to do. To accelerate this transition, we all can do many simple things to conserve energy and change our behaviors.
On a somewhat larger scale, building performance and energy assessments can help us understand what we need to do to make our homes and businesses more energy efficient and even move to zero net energy. This includes installing argon-filled windows, insulation, room-specific gas fireplace inserts and solar panels on the roof as well as plugging air leaks and lighting with LEDs. Programs such as PACE are available to help consumers and businesses finance energy upgrades, and other federal, state and local programs support installation of renewable energy technologies and the use of non-fossil fuel technologies in buildings and for personal cars and transportation fleets.
CSE: Our clean energy future
At CSE, we work to accelerate our nation’s transition to clean energy sources and off fossil fuels, largely because science has shown they are responsible for climate change, which threatens our national security and presents many grave challenges.
CSE’s programs are designed to help individuals, homeowners, institutions and businesses transition to a sustainable world powered by clean energy, increase our energy and water security and mitigate the impacts caused by climate change. CSE offers exciting programs to help homeowners become energy efficient and coaches individuals through the process of building performance and energy assessments. We work with businesses and local governments to adopt alternative fuel vehicles and other technologies.
I’m confident that as we move to a low-carbon economy, it will provide abundant jobs and business opportunities, a high quality of life and a clean, healthy environment leading to a peaceful future.