"Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." DICK CHENEY APRIL 2001
This statement is typical of the ignorance surrounding the energy crisis which is upon us. Despite remarks such as these, there is no doubt what the alternative energy source with the most potential is: It's not solar, wind, fuel cells, ethanol, nuclear, waves, geothermal or tides. It's conservation and increasing efficiency. Pure and simple. This is not to say that all these other sources are no good or will not help in the future. They will all eventually be part of the energy mix. But new forms of energy require research and development, and have lead times of up to decades to implement on a large scale. Do you realize that 84% of all commercial energy in the US is wasted? People in the UN unnecessarily waste as much energy as 2/3 of the world's population consumes.
The easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to get more energy with the least environmental impact is to eliminate the energy waste by making lifestyle changes that reduce energy consumption.
The second law of thermodynamics is the one single thing that is wasting our energy. Simply stated, when ever energy is used, some of it is degraded to a low quality form of energy. This law is most eloquently demonstrated by an incandescent light bulb. Not all the electricity that goes into a light bulb actually gets turned into light. In fact, the efficiency is only 5 percent, which means 95 percent of the electricity is turned into heat. A light bulb should be called a heat bulb! As a country we need to use appliances and products that are the most efficient. For example, the new compact fluorescent light bulbs have efficiciencies of around 40%. Clearly, incandescient light bulbs should be banned. All applicance such as refreiferator or washers have an energy star rating on them. Only products with the highest rating should be sold.
There are also life style changes which people could easily make.
Walk or use a bike for short trips
Use mass transit
Put on a sweater instead of turning up the heat
Turn off unneeded lights
Reinstate the 55 mph speed limit
If you think all these measures cannot make a difference, you are wrong. Just look back at 1973-1974 following the OPEC oil embargo. The US enacted conservation measures that resulted in a huge drop in energy use. As energy prices dropped, we became complacent. It's time to get serious again.