Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oil and Water

Some people say that we need to continue to depend on gas, oil and coal because solar, wind and other sources do not produce more than a small percentage of our energy use. Yes, that is true so far, but we have to have the will to change that equation. The technology is already here.

Example. If every new home and most older homes were outfitted with solar panels, how much of a percentage of our energy would that produce? If the panels were manufactured in America, and obviously installed by workers in this country, how many jobs would that create?

Here's another little example that could produce big results. Hot water heaters. Systems have been on the market for a while now that can provide hot water without a hot water tank. It simply heats the cold water as it runs through the pipes where the heating element is.

Benefits? You not only never run out of hot water, you also never have to deal with replacing a hot water heater. Most of us have had that experience a few times in our lives, haven't we? You go to take a shower one day and there is no hot water. Then you notice that the carpet is all soggy. You never seem to get a warning when this happens.

A friend of mine was looking at a new house and the agent was telling him how great it was that there was a hot water heater in the upstairs next to the master bathroom as well one downstairs. My friend said "Great. So when the hot water tank breaks, which they all do eventually, I can have a ceiling problem as well as a floor problem."

So he bought the house, but removed the hot water heaters and put in a tankless system. They cost more to install, but you will never have to worry about replacing a broken tank.

Energy wise, think of this. How much natural gas do we burn every year to keep a flame under every hot water heater in every home? So let's just say that a great portion of the hot water heaters were replaced with tankless systems, how much less natural gas would we need?

Once again, if more buildings were fitted with this technology, how many people would this employ? How many people would be employed manufacturing these systems?

Just a thought. We could save materials by using tankless systems. And we could save energy using tankless systems. And for the homeowner or property owner, over time, not replacing tanks and not keeping a flame lit under it 365 days a year will balance out the cost of installing the new system. So why not do this?

We have made transitions like this before. There was a time when everyone bought black and white TVs, but over time, everyone bought color TVs. Why? It was better, so people bought the better product. Now everybody wants big flat screens, and they are getting rid of their old sets.

Perhaps more people are not aware that such things exist. If the technology is already developed, then it is simply a matter of will to go ahead with it.

This is just one example. How many other examples are there? We could decrease the need to drill more wells while still enjoying the same standard of creature comforts. Actually, a higher standard if you consider that you never run out of hot water when you have guests, and never again have to deal with a broken hot water heater and you don't have to have a gas bill just to keep it warm.

While the invention I am mainly referring to here uses gas, not oil, there are other inventions that would also decrease the need for oil. Part of our vision has to take us from getting our energy from below the ground to getting more energy from above the ground.

Just back in the 90s when cell phones were as big as a suitcase, only some people wanted to lug them around. When they got to be pocket sized, almost every one got one, to the point where a lot of us no longer bother having a land line. How many of us now use laptop computers with wireless connections rather than big desktop setups?

If we were to take a look at how to use technology to achieve energy savings, there are many inventions that could improve the quality of our life while using clean, renewable energy.

Since more efficient technologies already exist, why not use them to live a greener life? If we can see a better future, why not use our will to act on that vision?

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