Energy efficiency linked to asthma


 A failure by residents to heat and ventilate retrofitted properties could lead to more people developing asthma, researchers said:

The drive for energy-efficient homes could increase asthma risks, according to a new study.

Research has found that a failure by residents to heat and ventilate retrofitted properties could lead to more people developing the respiratory condition.

Working with social housing provider Coastline Housing, the research team at the University of Exeter Medical School assessed data from the residents of 700 properties in Cornwall.

They found that people living in more energy-efficient homes had a greater risk of asthma and that the presence of mould doubled this risk.

The study builds on previous work showing that dampness and mould can increase the risk of allergic diseases.

Energy efficiency is a tough sell- Even when it is “free”!

Meredith Fowlie
Jan 12, 2015

Almost two weeks into the New Year, how are those resolutions going? Every year, my long list of resolutions includes several tasks I should be doing but have trouble finding time for, like going to the dentist and installing roof insulation (we have none).

It’s January 12 and I’ve already lost motivation to chase any of these to-dos off my list. I find it all too easy to ignore these low-dopamine tasks when something more pressing (or more fun) attracts my attention.

Energy Efficiency Gives Us Money to Burn

Tim Harford 
The Undercover Economist
Aug 2013

William Stanley Jevons was born in Liverpool in 1835. When his father’s business ran into trouble, he left his studies at University College London and went to work for five years in Sydney, assaying precious metals at a mint, before returning to London and academia. He made some important contributions to economics – the young John Maynard Keynes thought Jevons was one of the outstanding minds of the 19th century – but he died at 46, drowning in the sea off Bexhill.

Despite Keynes’s admiration, Jevons might now be forgotten, save for one famous prediction and one intriguing argument. The famous prediction – that the UK’s economic prosperity was at risk because the country would run out of viable reserves of coal – was contained in The Coal Question (1865), a book that made Jevons a celebrated pundit at the age of 29. The coal industry did fall into decline. Production peaked exactly a century ago, when there were 1.1 million coal miners – four times as many as when Margaret Thatcher was elected in 1979. Whether this had much to do with the fall of the Empire is a fascinating question.

Energy Efficiency - Fact or Fiction?

August 14, 2009
New York Times

NEW YORK (AP) -- You're a savvy consumer and you know how to cut corners when it comes to energy. You've given your dishwasher a rest and picked up a soapy sponge again. You even make sure never to fill your gas tank more than half way because you get more miles to the gallon
Or wait, is it the other way around? Is it better to leave the computer on all day or shut it off when not in use? Does my refrigerator use less energy when it's empty or full?

We spoke with people in the know at the Department of Energy, Edison Electric Institute, AAA and General Electric Co. to find out once and for all what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to powering down.


Screen savers save energy

FICTION -- Those hypnotizing screen savers give the illusion that your computer is on some energy-saving standby mode, but in reality, electricity is still pumping to keep your computer and monitor running. In fact, screen savers may even prevent the operation of your computer's power-down feature - which actually will cut down on energy use. Screen savers may even use more energy than a basic blank screen.

Your computer stops using energy when it's in sleep mode

Energy-efficiency claims off target

Nottingham Post
Feb 20, 2014

One in five household products do not match their energy-efficiency claims, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

European Commission-funded research found that up to 20 per cent of products – including ovens, fridges, washing machines and dishwashers – did not comply with energy efficiency standards.

As a result, 10 per cent of potential energy savings promised were missed by millions of products across Europe, the trust said.

The research analysed the efficiency of domestic fridges, testing the energy label declarations over a two-year period between 2009 and 2011.

Energy efficiency and human behaviour

Feb 18, 2013

Are buildings that consume less energy really more energy efficient as a result? As the University of Cambridge begins Switch Off Week, researcher Scott Kelly explains how predicting energy efficiency is easier said than done, especially once human behaviour becomes part of the calculation.

Dwellings are heterogeneous. A decarbonisation strategy that works well for one may not work for another.
Scott Kelly

Improving the energy efficiency of the UK’s existing building stock is vital to meeting the UK’s climate change mitigation targets. Currently at least 30% of all end use Green House Gas (GHG) emissions are from the UK residential sector. If the UK is going to meet its legally binding target of 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels, emissions from the UK residential sector will have to be eliminated almost entirely.

Electricity’s Growing Value

Electric Perspectives
Sept | Oct 2015
Pages 37 to 45

By STEVE MITNICK Steven Mitnick is president of Build Energy America and author of “Lines Down: How We Pay, Use, Value Grid Electricity Amid the Storm.”

The value provided by electricity grew rapidly throughout the twentieth century. Machines, appliances, and devices powered by electricity moved from curiosities to necessities and bred even more ways for electricity to make our lives safer, healthier, more comfortable, productive and fulfilling.

In the twenty-first century, the Internet is thoroughly transforming our way of life and supercharging the surge in electricity’s value. Our interdependence on the Internet and its myriad devices and apps—and on electricity—is multiplying. What our world will look like in 2040—just 25 years from now—is almost unimaginable. Suppose we try to envision what electricity’s role and value will be then?

The value provided by electricity grew rapidly throughout the twentieth century, then accelerated with the Internet’s emergence, and now promises to grow even faster over the next 25 years.

Efficient appliances have increased use

RAND Journal of Economics
Vol. 39, No. 2, Summer 2008
pp. 530–546

Durable goods and residential demand for energy and water: evidence from a field trial

Lucas W. Davis

This article describes a household production model in which energy-efficient durable goods cost less to operate so households may use them more. The model is estimated using household level data from a field trial in which participants received high-efficiency clothes washers free of charge. The estimation strategy exploits this quasi-random replacement of washers to derive precise estimates of the household production technology and a demand function for clothes washing. During the field trial, households increased clothes washing on average by 5.6% after receiving a high-efficiency washer, implying a price elasticity of ?.06. The complete model is used to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of recent changes in minimum efficiency standards for clothes washers.

1. Introduction

The energy efficiency of household durable goods has improved dramatically since the 1970s. Between 1972 and 2001, average gasoline consumption per mile for new automobiles decreased 49% and average electricity consumption of central air conditioners and refrigerators decreased 44% and 56%, respectively.

The Efficiency Trap.

Steve Hallett

Prometheus Books

Amherst NY: 2013
ISBN 9781616147259
Steve Hallett is an associate professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Purdue University.

Page 45

The seductive problem of efficiency really begins with the indirect effects of efficiency, and its importance becomes clear only when we consider populations of people rather than individuals. A little extra driving by one person is not a big deal, but when everybody drives a little more, a lot can change.

If cars are more affordable, thanks to an efficiency increase, then more of them are put on the roads, and if everybody drives a little more, more roads will be needed. Road construction is an energy-intensive activity and so increase road construction can become an indirect rebound effect of increased fuel efficiency in cars. More cars need more roads, but they also need more tires, more gas stations, and more steel. More steel requires more iron ore. More iron ore mining requires more fuel, and the picture becomes much worse when we consider these broader systems. The problem is not that we give back a paltry 20 percent of the energy we thought efficiency would save. The problem is that, since efficiency makes things cheaper and better, it drives us down the pathway of progress. This is not a bad thing per se, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves that efficiency saves energy, because it does the opposite.

Don’t Think of Yourself as a ‘Consumer’

Oct 17, 2012

Annie Leonard

Author of "The Story of Stuff" and the director of the Story of Stuff Project.

Instead of asking what we as consumers can do, let’s ask what we as citizens must do. Our real power to reduce the environmental and health impacts of the energy we use lies not in convincing consumers to make different choices from a limited menu but in engaging as citizens to influence what’s on the menu.

We must let our elected officials know we want clean, safe energy. We want efficiency. We want innovation. We want action – to turn away from the dirty energy choices of the past and turn toward the clean energy economy of the future.

Individual choice, even when multiplied by millions, seldom has the power to create the kind of deep and lasting change needed to stabilize the climate.

Reduce Energy Use and Beware of the Rebound Effect

Feb 10, 2014

Matthew Kotchen 
Professor of environmental economics and policy at Yale University.


To ask whether it is useful for consumers to focus on energy efficiency is like asking whether it is useful for consumers to focus on price. In practice, a cost-effective improvement in energy efficiency operates like a decrease in price. When you can drive more miles for every gallon of gas and run your household with lower utility bills, the price of these energy services is lower. In many cases, energy efficiency saves you money — even if you don’t care about the environment.

If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, efficient products can help. Just be vigilant after making the switch.

Efficiency’s Promise Is Too Good to Be True

April 4, 2012

David Owen 
Staff writer for The New Yorker
Author of "Green Metropolis" and "The Conundrum."

Amory Lovins once famously characterized energy efficiency as “the lunch you’re paid to eat”; Steven Chu, the secretary of energy, has called efficiency a tool for reducing energy consumption and carbon output with minimal personal sacrifice.

Lovins, Chu and other efficiency enthusiasts are undoubtedly correct when they argue that we Americans could live regally on little more than we currently waste. But turning efficiency improvements into environmental gains isn’t as easy as they make it sound. When I replaced the incandescent bulb in my desk lamp with a compact fluorescent, I expected the amount of electricity used by my desk lamp to decrease — and it did. But the broader, long-term impacts of that switch — both for my own life and for the world — are certain to be more complex.

Efficiency isn’t enough

Jan 9, 2014

It is interesting and informative to look at the stories in The Times Argus through a lens that focuses on energy, particularly the relation between renewable energy (solar, wind, biomass) and fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal). We know climate change is upon us. We know fairly well its causes. We know that we’ve got to reduce fossil fuel consumption to reduce carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. It’s a big deal.

When I read the stories in The Times Argus through this lens, I find a few critical things missing. Take, for example, the headline story of Dec. 27, “Range of bills to be considered”; no mention is made of any efforts by our legislators about renewable energy and reducing fossil fuel use.

On another front-page story of the same date, “Legislators look to session’s issues,” central Vermont legislators were asked to set forth their priorities for the coming legislative session. Of the 15 responding, only two mentioned climate change and energy efficiency. Only one mentioned energy conservation, and it seemed that there was confusion between energy efficiency and conservation. Conservation is energy not used (smaller homes, trips not taken, materials not moved), and efficiency is still consumption and often makes consumption rise because it may make energy less expensive.

Curbing greenhouse gas

Dec 28, 2013

Readers of The Times Argus recently learned that “Vermont has fallen well short of its first major goal in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” The news came in a report from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and states that greenhouse gas emissions are now about where they were in 1990, despite legislation passed in 2006 and efforts to curb carbon pollution.

Deb Markowitz, head of the ANR, stated, “We will need to redouble our efforts if we are to achieve the (GHG) emission reduction goals we have set …” She adds that nearly half of Vermont GHG emissions come from the transportation sector. To address the shortfall, Ms. Markowitz offers that vehicle emissions will be reduced “as vehicles powered by electricity grow in popularity and as more electricity comes from renewable sources.”

Other important factors that will contribute to curbing GHG include using less heating fuel and warmer winters. We will defer on the question of how exactly the ANR will address the latter. However, the other factors, namely vehicle traffic and heating fuel and their role in the GHG equation, invite comment.

Do patriots drive slower to conserve gas?

Dan Church
Morning Call (Allentown, PA)
June 4, 2012

Outraged by high gasoline prices?

Concerned by the U.S. dependence on foreign oil?

Consider yourself a red-white-and-blue patriot?

Why not then turn back the clock, not to 1973 and the 55 mph speed limit, but to the United States — and Congress — during World War II. Then, to bolster energy independence, the administration and Congress agreed upon a 35 mph speed limit and, for most Americans, a limit of 150 miles per month and three gallons of gasoline per week. (An essential worker could get eight gallons; for congressmen, unlimited gasoline.)

Not that patriotic?

On a recent trip down the Northeast Extension, in my gas-guzzling V8 Mountaineer, I maintained the 65 mph speed limit from the Quakertown exit — except for the 55 mph section south of Lansdale, this for safety sake.

Do more roads really mean less congestion for commuters?

A new road may provide motorists with some level of respite from congestion in the short term. But almost all of the benefit from the road will be lost in the longer term

April 12, 2015

1. Matthew Beck
Senior Lecturer in Infrastructure Management at University of Sydney

2. Michiel Bliemer
Professor in Transport and Logistics Network Modelling at University of Sydney

Congestion is a major source of frustration for road users and has worsened over time in most cities. Different solutions have been proposed, such as introducing congestion charging (a favourite of transport economists) or investing in public transport. One solution that is most often put forward is to build more roads, but does this approach work?

A recent study in the United States identified Los Angeles, Honolulu and San Francisco as the top three most gridlocked cities in the United States. All of these cities use almost exclusively road-based solutions to transport citizens.

While China has increased its expressway network from 16,300 km in the year 2000 to around 70,000 km in 2010, the average commute time in Beijing for 2013 was 1 hour and 55 minutes, up 25 minutes from just the year before.

DOE Thermostat report - IG-0817

July 20, 2009

U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Inspector General
Office of Audit Services

Audit Report:
The Department of Energy's
Opportunity for Energy Savings Through the Use of Setbacks in its Facilities


FROM: Gregory H. Friedman Inspector General
SUBJECT: INFORMATION: Audit Report on "The Department of Energy's Opportunity for Energy Savings Through the Use of Setbacks in its Facilities"


During 2008, the Department of Energy expended about $300 million to provide energy to over 9,000 Federal buildings at its facilities. A significant portion of those costs, up to 40 percent, were expended for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

Because of its size and scope, operating the Department's existing HVAC systems as efficiently as possible offers the promise of immediate and substantial energy and cost savings. In addition to the "common sense" reasons for efficient and economic energy use, Federal agencies are specifically required to conserve energy by reducing heat or eliminating air conditioning during non-working hours. One of the primary means of achieving these savings is through the use of "setback" controls, both mechanical and software, that decrease the temperature difference between the inside of the building and
the outside of the building during non-working hours.

Does Improving Efficiency Do Any Good?

Karen Street
January 4, 2011

The New Yorker has done much to introduce non-scientists to scientific thinking (eg, Kolbert’s articles on climate change), but now aims to confuse us, or so it appears, by presenting real concerns in a too simplistic manner. David Owen’s recent article discusses Jevons Paradox in The Efficiency Dilemma (subscription required) has been attacked by critics who object to his omissions. Truth sometimes lies in the middle, but in this case, Truth appears to be more towards the extremes, with a caveat, it depends on where and for what.

Jevons pointed out a century and a half ago that increased efficiency can lead to lower prices and thus to consumption greater than if there had been no improvement. Rebound effect is the term used when increased efficiency leads to lower consumption, but the decrease is made smaller by behavior change.

From the article:
• Consumption increases as costs go down. Because refrigerators are so much cheaper to operate, Owen says, they have spread to hotel rooms and gas stations. Additional energy loss (and increases in greenhouse gas emissions) occur as we increase the amount of food we buy and waste (and consume) as refrigerator size increases.

Does energy efficiency lead to energy savings?

Press Release: Lincoln University
May 11, 2015

Do you leave the lights on longer than you used to now you are using energy efficient bulbs?

Improvements in energy efficiency are meant to curtail energy use rather than increase it —however this is not always the case.

Lincoln University senior lecturer Dr Baiding Hu is looking into this seemingly contradictory occurrence in the world’s biggest economy, and will be applying what he learns to the New Zealand economy.

He is on sabbatical at the Department of Economics at the National University of Singapore.
While there his research is concerned with “energy rebound effect” in China’s industrial sector.

The rebound effect refers to additional energy consumption due to energy efficiency improvement.