Consumers will change their "wasteful" behaviours when companies provide the quality products , conveniently and at a reasonable cost. This also includes companies educating the consumer on what is available.
"Cool factor" isn't enough. It's enough to get early adopters in on it, but far from enough to get it to mainstream.
For mainstream, broad acceptance, energy efficiency needs to save money without adding in to much of a behavior change or make something easier. The shower example doesn't work because the added behavior change out weighs the savings. Putting flow restrictors has wide-spread adoption because it's a one-time task, doesn't require any behavior change and most devices come that way now anyway. It doesn't require much action or any continual thought.
In many cases, the perceived value will never be enough so legislation is required. That's how we got low flush volume toilets, extra insulated water heaters and gas mileage improvements.
If not legislated, it has to smack people hard in the wallet to cause this type of change.
IS easy to retrofit any appliance which has a standby mode
It is possible to automatically reduce vampire power to 0.1W per appliance, or group of appliances. And also let the user know how much power they are saving! The key design feature for a good auto-standby socket is to use a set-reset latching relay for switching from super standby to ON mode........That way you don't waste power in ON mode.
Google for the EcoSaverSocket to find a google gadget for calculating annual savings!
Unfortunately the UK market for these devices is controlled by the Energy Providers [free issue] and they are content to give away poorly designed infra-red controlled switches with no user feedback.
John Leech Lowestoft
I'm glad we don't have to read by candlelight.
I don't use fluorescent lights to read with as their too dim.
I'm glad I don't travel by wagon.
I love my V8 engine even at 4 $/gal. My V8 Vette is more efficient than my SUV and I can't afford to replace that yet. I will not spend $40,000 on a chevy even if it were a Vette. I assume that some day I'll be forced to buy an overpriced hybrid vehicle or an underpowered one that sips gas.
I don't cool my house with AC.
Photovoltaics probably won't work well under snow and I'm not about to shovel my roof.
I hate ceiling fans as I don't like moving shadows especially in my peripheral vision. (I do own a cieling fan but its under protest with my better half). I can envision that a windmill might be annoying if its in the wrong place.
I have no problems turning off the lights, the tv, and the computer when I'm not home. Unplugging stuff is a PITA though and products should turn off when you turn them off.
Kudos to those who are becoming self sufficient and doing more with less. I remember back in the late 70's / early 80's when solar power had started to become more appealing to home owners due to the prior energy crisis in early - mid 70's. But, quickly lost it's popularity due to the lack of efficiency that we have in the solar panels of today.
So, why not take advantage of those advancements? And, let's not forget other alternative energy sources such as natural gas and hydrogen and common sense such as; using those nice little devices called switches when leaving the room or picking up the remote and extinguishing the TV at 9PM in favor of reading a book or family time.
What if we were to have an evening called "Lights Out America". Just imagine the energy saved. Even if only 33% participated the savings would be huge.
I remember the last time we lost power during a lightning storm. We lit an oil lamp and a couple of candles. It was quiet, peaceful evening with the only other light being the lightning.
I would like to make a point that hasn't yet been made. While I agree that devices and processes should be efficient intrinsically, there is also the standard economic "quality of life" factor. Minimizing resource expenditure is important, and not just money but also time. A quick example: I know people who, in the interest of "saving the planet," will go to great lengths to use public transportation to get to work to avoid driving. Even if it means their commute will be two hours as opposed to 30 mins. This is of course not resource efficient in any way, and I would argue has a greater impact on the environment.
The point is that when "green" technologies surpass that barrier, where it is more economical to use than the previous non -efficient methods, that is when people will adopt efficient strategies. This will come naturally with engineering and innovation.
We shouldn't need a panel of experts to tell us how to be more energy and resource efficient. The answer is that it takes a concerted effort. That is, it requires a combination of education, behavior modification -- with recognition and rewards (including monetary) -- and investment in tools and infrastructure components that help us be that much better.
I'm surprised no one has suggested taxing energy. That's what we do in the UK and (although there are howls of protest from the hard-of-understanding) it works. My car seats 7 yet does more than 50mpg; I've just ordered one that seats 7 and will do more than 65mpg. Ford and VW's motivation to design/invent these engines is surely financial. At UK petrol (gas) prices (currently about £1.40 per litre), my new VW will cost less than 10p (16cents?) per mile in fuel.
I agree about the A/C. Smart meters and Google Power and all that stuff that lets us know how much electricity we're using and where it's going are wonderful things, but right now is the hottest time of the year in Arizona, and no matter how painful the electric bill is, I want to walk into a 78 degree house. Having an app or whatever tell me that I could save X percent by raising the household temp a few degrees is not going to motivate me to be uncomfortable.