On April 22, 2009, in his most recent energy address, President Obama said, “The nation that leads the world in creating new energy sources will be the nation that leads the 21st-century global economy.” Of course, more than just the American ingenuity that will create these new energy sources, Americans must understand the best way to purchase and use our biggest sources of personal wealth—automobiles and homes—to ensure they’re compatible with this 21st century energy supply. It may mean sacrifices, but more than anything, it may mean nothing other than staying informed and modernizing our way of life and our choices as consumers…
Market Forces and Governmental Policy
From Obama’s speech: “In 2000, energy technology represented just one half of one percent of all venture capital investments. Today, it’s more than 10 percent.” Thus, while there may not be a silver bullet, investment capital is going to generate innovations, and innovations are going to generate new products—in the form of better appliances, heating and cooling systems, and insulation. Energy sources will become diversified; energy loss will continue to be reduced.
So, what does this energy plan mean for homeowners? Nothing more than old-fashioned American, economic values: The free market runs smoothly when consumers are informed. National investment works best with local implementation. When things break, don’t assume the best replacement is a similar material. Asphalt may no longer be the most cost-effective roof, vinyl no longer the most cost-effective siding. If you live in a sunny climate, get an estimate on photovoltaic installation. If you live in a windy climate, get an estimate for a wind-turbine home generator. Know whether your property and soil are friendly to geothermal power. And repeat these estimates every couple years because sustained capital investment also means energy technology will follow computer technology in that every few years your product may become outdated.
To read some of the talking points of the Obama Energy Plan (and a forum of web-based reactions), click here.
Painless Ways to Help the Green Energy Initiative
While you’re researching and waiting for “the next big thing,” there are also simple and painless ways to reduce your energy consumption and carbon footprint. So, if you’ve been putting off these common energy-saving solutions, consider that few, if any, sacrifices are necessary by implementing the following actions.
1. Lighting Design: How many times have you been told to install compact fluorescent bulbs? Many homeowners have resisted because they cherish the warm feel of incandescent bulbs. Yet, by hiring a lighting designer to add recessed lighting and increase your lighting options, you can conserve energy while reinvigorating your home’s interior lighting.
2. Use Color: Wear light colors in summer and darker colors in winter? Well, the same applies to your home. If you live in a warm climate, next time around paint your home in a lighter color. If you live in colder climes, paint it a darker color. Alternately, plant some trees to create shade for your home.
3. Energy Audits: The federal government isn’t just looking at venture capitalism to generate new energy technologies. It’s also helping ordinary families make their homes more energy-efficient through cost-effective weatherization. For every dollar the government spends through its Weatherization Assistance Program, households receive $1.83 in energy savings. The first step? Either on your own or through this federal program, complete an energy audit that will determine where your home needs work.
Energy Solutions: Big and Small
While the administration acknowledges that energy-efficiency is “the cheapest, cleanest, fastest energy source,” it also knows we can’t meet energy sustainability without the large-scale solutions of alternative energy sources. Likewise, homeowners who wish to contribute to the goal of creating sustainable energy practices must mesh action-oriented energy savers and staying informed of larger renovations as they continue to become more and more cost-effective.