Attitudes Towards Energy Efficiency

April 10, 2008

The majority of the work I do relates to renewable energy’s less attractive, more financially sensitive brother, energy efficiency. Attitudes towards Energy Efficiency is an interesting topic (well I think). Energy Efficiency is about achieving goals, using less energy… Simple as that. So the ways that can be done is

  • Equipment that uses less energy (a technical solution)CFL bulbs, putting in insulation etc
  • Using Equipment for less time (a control solution)Sensors and timers
  • Reducing the quality of service required from equipment to a more appropriate level (an engineering solution) – Turning down the heating

Now the way people see these things is quite different, but truth is, the type of efficiency that dominates peoples views… is the last one. And people associate a reduction in the quality of service they get… with being poor. People associate having their houses really warm, really well lit, driving big cars, having double size fridges… all that… with affluence. And people like to project affluence.

So… that’s why I’m particularly interested in a proposal I heard the other day. At the moment Irish Cars registrations plates are of the format 07 CE 2344. The 07 refers to the year of the car. CE refers to the county of registration, and the other number… well that’s just a number. Now its been pointed out to me in the past that having the year on the registration encourages people to buy new cars… to show off like… everyone wants to show off their new car. So, this proposal is to change the year number with an energy rating. The idea is that people will want to show off how energy efficient their car is…


Energy Efficiency is at a disadvantage, people think that doing it… makes you look uncool/poor/less attractive to women/men… so using something like this, which makes gas guzzlers wear a dunce hat… is a good idea

Energy Efficiency is a great idea on the merits of the energy/money/CO2 saved, and shouldn’t need to use psychological crap like this.

This is a similar plan what Toyota did with the Prius… It looks different from other cars so green people can show off how green they are.

We could also discuss how Energy Efficiency, encouraging people to consume less… is not the Capitalist/American way…. And so cannot/should not succeed. This is also an interesting discussion (well… again… to me)

So… opinions???