Today I had the pleasure to watch Amory Lovins give an excellent lecture at the Virtual Energy Forum - which labels itself as the worlds largest online energy conference. If you've been following this blog since the beginning you know I'm a huge fan of the leader of Rocky Mountain Institute; a quick search of the blog yields 6 other posts that mention him! Amory's webcast is available in the Energy Forum archives if you do a simple sign-up on their website. It is a little over an hour but I highly recommend taking the time to watch it to learn how one of the brightest minds in energy policy and efficient design thinks.
After the session, which covered designing much more efficient cars, factories, homes and buildings, Amory took a few questions that viewers could send in by typing a message while he was talking. One of the questions was, "What is the the most effective method for saving energy for the average householder?" At this point I started scribbling furiously on my notepad.
The first thing Amory mentioned was "stop air leaks". He recommended having a professional home auditor come by and do a blower door test, which increases the pressure in your home to make it easy to find air leaks. He also recommended improving thermal insulation and improving the windows. I have a good start in covering these two topics in my Building Envelope category.
The second item he discussed was always purchase the most energy efficient appliances. While everyone knows more efficient appliances save more energy, most people probably don't focus on it when making buying decisions. Before you purchase your new TV or washing machine, really pay attention to energy consumption and how rising electricity prices will affect your new equipment. He mentioned the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and their reports on the most energy efficient appliances.
Finally, he recommended to "pick the place you live". He means that if you are looking to move, live in a place that is close to your work and recreation. It will require much less energy to move your around and will save you time and make you happier.
Amory's advice is great, and his ideas are simple yet powerful. He doesn't propose hair-brained schemes that are straight out of science fiction, he simply recommends practical steps we need to take to become more efficient as a society.