Archive for Saturday, December 29, 2007

Small steps

Everyday energy conservation measures can have a big impact.

December 29, 2007

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We won't all end up on NBC's Today Show, but that doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile to emulate a local couple's energy conservation example.

A story in Thursday's Journal-World reported that Elizabeth and Johnny Kim of Lawrence would be featured in a TV piece about simple steps families can take to reduce energy consumption and costs. The Kims had installed weather stripping, wrapped an insulated blanket around their water heater and purchased a programmable thermostat that would automatically turn down the temperature during hours they weren't at home. For relatively little expense, the couple probably will realize a significant cost savings.

Individual savings, of course, aren't the only reason to practice conservation measures. Concern about dwindling energy supplies and the effects of global warming has raised the public's consciousness about energy use. And with good reason.

Much attention has been focused on finding new and perhaps cleaner sources of energy, but conservation is an important part of the puzzle. Earlier this year, the Kansas governor's energy adviser cited studies that showed nearly 30 percent of all energy could be saved through conservation. Vigorous implementation of conservation measures clearly can have an impact on the need to seek new energy sources.

Small steps matter. A speaker at the Kansas Economy Policy Conference held in Lawrence in October used compact fluorescent light bulbs as an example. Even when the higher purchase price of such bulbs is included, each compact fluorescent will save a consumer $55 over the life of the bulb, compared to traditional incandescent bulbs.

Those savings add up. It's easy to see that if large numbers of people take even a few simple, low-cost conservation steps, it could have a significant impact on energy demands in Kansas and across the nation.

Decisions about whether to promote wind power or allow construction of additional coal-fired electrical power plants may stir controversy in Kansas, but there should be little debate over the benefits of energy conservation. Even small choices can make a big difference.

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