The cost of not investing in energy efficiency

Energy efficiency and sustainability is much more than just recycling, it is a matter of how a company does business and their seriousness as well as commitment to preserve the future.

According to Gerard Deeb, Product Services Manager at Vaal Sanitaryware, energy efficiency is effectively saving power.

“The prominence of saving energy came to the fore in South Africa after the 2008 Eskom scare. Energy saving opens up a scope of opportunities for entrepreneurs to come up with sustainable solutions and alternative energy sources. It should not be seen as a negative, as it can be turned into a huge positive,” said Deeb.

According to him water harvesting will become critically important. Methods of cost effective water desalination need to be devloped. Desalination is a process that removes minerals and salts from saline water. This means that sea water can be utilised.

A prime example of water resource importance can be found in a near disaster not too long ago. In 1983 the Comrades Marathon was almost cancelled because of the then water crisis. Desalination was used to provide enough water for the event and thus averted the cancellation of this landmark event.

Water could be a very good alternative energy source, if innovation and science can come up with affordable ways of transforming sea water and grey water.

Few people consider where electricity comes from when they flip on a light switch or push the start button on a computer. Almost everyone in developed areas has grown up in homes that were powered by electricity. This makes it very easy to take energy for granted, without realising the cost to both the environment and to your bank account.

The truth is that all energy produced and used has an impact on the environment. Even energy from completely natural sources impacts the earth. For example, even the energy from a lightning strike on a tree often results in the tree being burned. How detrimental that impact is will be determined by the type of energy and the amount used.

A few interesting energy facts:

  • Energy consumption could be cut by 11% by 2020 through simple building efficiency measuressuch as more efficient lighting, water heating and appliances. In this category will also fall water saving devices in the bathroom.
  • Americans consume 26% of the world’s energy.
  • Around 18% of total emissions come from operating our homes.
  • Heating and cooling account for about 56% of the energy use in a typical home.
  • At any one time in most households an average of 8 appliances are left on stand-by.

Stand-by is an appliance’s “off” setting, but the appliance continues to use about 85% of the energy it uses while on, often so that it can listen for signals from remote controls.

  • Almost 90% of the energy used by traditional bulbs is wasted in producing heat.
  • About 25% of all the energy we use to heat our homes escapes through single-glazed windows.
  • On average 10% of our electric bill is spent on powering lights.

Source: Chelsea Green Publishing

Has energy efficiency only become important of late?

Unfortunately, energy saving and alternative power sources are costly. Public debate on the energy transition is dominated by questions surrounding costs. We have long known about dwindling resources and the need for increased energy efficiency, but the point is that energy transition must be implemented much more cost effectively.

Energy policy remains the subject of intense debate, but not the question of whether to pursue the energy transition, rather only the question of how.

Adherents to green politics tend to consider energy saving and environmental responsibility to be part of a ‘higher’ world view and not simply a political ideology. Green policies stress the personal responsibility of every individual to make moral choices.

Of course, unease about adverse consequences of human actions on nature predates the modern concept of “environmentalism”. Social commentators in ancient Rome and China complained of air, water and noise pollution.

Leaving less of a carbon footprint, conserving and saving is then in the end as old as humanity itself, but our challenge in a modern day world is to supply enough for an ever increasing demand and to do this cost effectively and energy wisely.

It’s a very old problem, but is becoming ever more dramatic as resources dwindle daily and demand escalates frighteningly.

Click here to read about the sustainability measures that Vaal Sanitaryware, Libra Bathrooms and Plexicor are undertaking in their product manufacture and factory operations.

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