Monday, August 8, 2011

The "Kill" Switch

For a few years after college, our daughter Maggie, a trained architect and green designer, had a small business helping clients make their homes and apartments healthy and energy-efficient places to live. Many of her clients had small children, and one of the things Maggie always recommended was a "kill switch" in the child's bedroom that would shut off all the power in the room to eliminate electro-magnetic fields, as well as save energy.

The political uproar over fracking in New York reminds me once again how companies with money and political connections can force us to have the wrong conversations about energy - conversations which are divisive, unnecessary, and which successfully divert our attention from the obvious truths right under our collective noses.

Hands down, the cleanest, cheapest and most abundant energy resource in America today - and one we can utilize tomorrow without building infrastructure or power plants - is conservation. The potential of conservation dwarfs the alleged potential of fracking, or even nuclear energy. According to a study from the German Aersoapce Centre, a 47% reduction in worldwide energy demand is possible in the future if we get serious about it.

Which brings me back to Maggie and the Kill Switch. Shouldn't every home, apartment and business be required to have an "Energy Kill Switch" just inside the front door that would automatically adjust the thermostats and shut off power to every non-essential outlet? Keep power to the refrigerator, the freezer and the alarm system, but kill the lights, the computer, the cable box and all our other appliances that are plugged in and draining small - but measurable - amounts of energy every minute?

We could generate tens of thousands of jobs, reduce greenhouse gases and save billions of dollars while we reduce our energy requirements and finally achieve true energy independence. As a side benefit, we could tell the fracking companies to go home.

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