Semantically fossil fuels are a renewable source of energy, however given that it takes millions of years for the organic materials to be broken down and converted, it is wholly unrealistic to consider them as renewable. As the demand for fossil fuels increases and source diminish faster than they are replentished, the United States must work towards a renewable energy independent state using truly renable sources, both technically and in practice. With changes in the home, as consumers in buying goods and with alternative fuel sources backed by public trust and governmental involvement, the United States could drastically lessen its dependence on fossil fuels, foreign and domestic.
The greatest impact on reducing dependence on fossil fuels could begin at home. All around us are devices that consume energy even as we do nothing with them. Known colloquially as “vampire power”, these devices in standby power mode continue to consume energy as they are never actually “off”. Studies by Ross and Meier (2001) have shown that the average household can have up to 40 different devices consuming energy, from clocks to microwaves and DVD players to television, these devices add up to, between, 5% and 26% of the total electricity consumption in a household – energy likely produced at the cost of burning fossil fuels, both in production of the electricity and the transportation of the fuels themselves.
For new or retrofit construction, every choice can lead to energy savings; energy that is derived primarily from fossil fuels. The typical household LED replacement for a 60w light lasts about 50,000 hours. Pretending that an incandescent could also last that long, it would consume about 3,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy whereas the LED would consume about one-tenth of that, 300 kWh. It takes just over 1 pound of coal to produce one kWh hour, so changing out one light bulb could save about 1.35 tons of coal over a five year period. Using oil as the electrical source, the numbers are 240 gallons versus 24 gallons.
Additionally to the point of construction, such items as increased effective insulation, high performance windows, tight construction and ductwork to seal the envelope of the house with better heating and cooling systems can also reduce a home’s energy consumption, which in turn reduces demand for electricity, leading to a reduction in dependence on fossil fuels. Over and above that the addition of geo-thermal heating, solar panels or capturing wind can enable a house to work entirely off the grid or at a net positive for energy consumption.
While certain initiates have lowered the draw of devices in standby power mode, such as the international standard for energy efficient consumer products, Energy Star, and better home construction, this helps us only with the ‘last mile’ of the issue. Further upstream, we continue to consume fossil fuels at a rate that outpaces the natural replenishing of these fuels and alternatives need to be...