Daily it seems, we learn about further shifts to long-standing patterns on our planet. With these changes occurring at global scale, we may at times feel daunted as individuals. And indeed, the challenges loom large around doing our part for sustainability and the environment. However, these feelings ought not lead us to inaction! Instead, each of us should commit to doing our part, understanding that combined efforts will make a difference.
Energy and Waste
Energy impacts the environment through carbon dioxide and other pollutants we put in the air. These emissions occur when we burn fuel, whether in our homes or to generate electricity for them. True, wind and solar have made strong recent inroads. But many US regions still rely on coal for as much as 80% of their power.
Although pollutants are unfortunate, they at least feel justified when benefits accrue from the power generated. Known as “energy services,” these benefits drive modern economies. However, we consider less tolerable the emissions that ultimately fail to deliver value. Such energy represents waste and exerts influence at a scale far larger than many realize. And in so doing, it greatly impacts sustainability and the environment.
The Scale of Waste
Experts in the field have developed diagrams to illustrate the sources and uses of energy. These so-called Sankey diagrams show the scale of energy flows in proportion to the size of lines connecting inputs and outputs. The diagram below depicts US energy for 2017. It can prove difficult to wrap our heads around the units of measurement, quads. However, this article may provide a good first step.
For the purpose of quantifying waste, we focus on the far right side of the diagram. Of the 97.7 total quads used in 2017, only 31.1. quads went to energy services. The other 66.7 quads went to waste, labeled “Rejected Energy.” That’s a whopping 68% waste — the energy equivalent of 680 NFL football stadiums filled to the brim with gasoline!
Looking at our homes, the numbers appear somewhat better. With efficiency on the order of 65%, “only” about 35% represents wasted energy. However, actual net residential efficiency is more complex. Specifically, delivering electricity to our homes still relies upon inefficient processes. We’re talking on the order of 66% wasted energy! Consequently, the full inefficiency in our homes probably looks more like 75%. Returning to our football stadium concept, full residential waste in the US looks something like 80 football stadiums worth of gasoline per year.
Doing Our Part for Sustainability and the Environment
OK. So we have established an opportunity to make a real difference for sustainability and the environment by managing energy consumption in our homes. And, in even better news, we appreciate that all efforts we make will be leveraged. On the one hand, avoiding unnecessary energy consumption in our homes reduces demand for energy services. And on the other, it keeps our homes from requiring the waste energy that stems from delivering electricity. Therefore, by managing consumption, we ensure greater value from our energy and actually multiply the environmental effect!
However, managing energy consumption requires that we have a means both of measuring it and receiving feedback in real time. In this manner, we gain the greatest insight for how and when we use energy. Emporia Energy has developed its own platform, the Vue, for obtaining this feedback. Better yet, the Vue is now available on a monthly basis for the price of a cup of coffee.
In a case of good following good, we also can expect to save money through our improved understanding around home energy use. Ultimately, Emporia seeks to help drive savings as high as 50%. In this manner, the platform more than pays for itself while you do your part for sustainability and the environment. Imagine that: you could even get paid you for showing you care!