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Energy efficiency not being used to full potential

Go Green Galloway

Though often called the “low-hanging fruit” of energy policy, efficiency is still not being harvested for its full potential.

Countries and economies have spent trillions extracting, fighting over and cleaning up after oil, gas, coal and uranium. The Earth’s primary dynamic forces, wind, sun, water force, earth and living biological processes, rise to the top of viability and sheer common sense, like conservation of resources.

But wait: Imagine lopping off 30 percent to 40 percent of the demand for all of that power, even as the world economy grows. With current technologies, that’s approximately how much we could improve energy efficiency and gain in the fight against climate change. What some have termed “the first fuel,” energy efficiency in all sectors encourages the exchange of best practices at all levels of economics, without the impetus for violence or desecration of land, water and air.

The key to enabling these improvements, on both the demand and supply sides, is an all-in approach to renewable sources of clean energy and a re-electrification of economies. The entire economic model, here and abroad, could be energized by decentralizing power generation using smart grid distribution of power and more DC (direct current) power from onsite or grouped local production. For example, DC power can dramatically increase efficiency in flow and use of integrated battery storage within buildings and interaction with electric vehicles. Low to zero energy consumption buildings, or ZEBs, are appearing more widely with the use of state-of-the-art HVAC equipment, insulation, wall structures, windows, doors and integrated management of all systems. Typically, solar photovoltaic and hydronic panels provide some, if not all, of the energy. Geothermal energy is often used for its hyperlocal availability, literally under our feet.

To learn more and to stay up on developments in these fields, check out the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), at aceee.org. This organization “acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments and behaviors,” according to its website. Here you can find out about programs, publications and conferences relevant to the topic.

Also, check out passive house construction at phius.org. This is based on ancient wisdom passed down through many cultures, about using Earth physics and dynamics for human shelter and comfort. Are we humble and wise enough to learn and build upon these messages of efficiency?

What else can we do, right now? Use Energy Star benchmarks when building or remodeling. Use the NJ Clean Energy program for efficiency overhauls and appliance and equipment upgrades. Urge your lawmakers to support renewable energy sources and the technologies that support greater efficiency. Contact the Galloway Office of Sustainability for detailed information on programs available: gtnj.org, click on "Departments" and scroll to "Sustainability."

New Jersey can produce its own energy from its resources of wind, sun, tide, geothermal, anaerobic methane and more. All of the above is doable if we get off the fossil fuel and mega-regional power production treadmill. If we let the combination of clean energy production, smart and interactive local grid technology and super efficiency re-energize our lives and our economy, we will set the pace for a more sustainable future!

Go Green Galloway is a volunteer organization dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint of Galloway through the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation, environmental education and the implementation of sustainable practices. We always welcome new volunteer members. Contact us at gogreengalloway12@gmail.com or call Mary at 609-742-7076. Also be sure to like our Facebook page.

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