My name is Stephanie Hastings. I am the President of Naperville for Clean Energy and Conservation, also known as NCEC. NCEC is a Naperville-based not-for-profit that is focusing on community education about our energy consumption and its impact on the environment. What I am going to present today is a high level overview of the current energy situation our country and our world is facing. I will also share the latest data and information I have found that best illustrates why we, as a society, need to make energy a priority. I was very excited when I found out that the topic of this year’s summit is renewable energy. AND I was even more excited when I found out I was going to get a chance to explain why we need to increase our energy efficiency in addition to deploying more renewable energy systems.
I’m starting out with a graph from the Energy Information Administration. The line shows where the actual consumption data stops and the forecasting begins. The main ideas to pull from this graph: Renewables are on the rise, which is fantastic. Total energy consumption is expected to continue to grow. Some argue this forecast is too conservative and that our total energy consumption will grow faster than projected. Fossil fuels are also expected to grow, at a slower rate than they historically have, but still grow. In the next 25 to 30 years we will still be 78% dependent on fossil fuels. (We are currently around 85% dependent on fossil fuels).
On the whole, in the past two years, US energy consumption has increased by 3.4 percent. Fossil fuel energy (not all US produced) remains the dominant supplier, accounting for 85.3% of total consumption.
Looking at half-year totals in production of renewable energy in the US, data shows an increase of 23 percent from 2009 to 2011. Total energy production increased by 6.5 percent. By comparison, U.S. production of fossil fuels from 2009 to 2011 increased only 4.4 percent. Nuclear electric power production declined. So what does all of this energy consumption data mean for the environment?
Here is another way to think about it. Scientists tell us that the Earth’s atmosphere currently contains 385 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Scientists also tell us a healthy level would be to lower the concentration back down to 350 ppm or less. The concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is increasing. We are putting in 9.1 billion metric tons a year and through natural processes the earth can only drain out 5 billion metric tons a year. 80% of the 9.1 billion metric tons is coming from burning fossil fuels. So decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels from 85% to 78%, but still growing total fossil fuels over the next 25-30 years means we are still going to continue to increase the total amount of carbon dioxide concentrated in our atmosphere. Therefore, we as a society need to do better to increase our use of renewable energy systems and also to decrease our total energy consumption.
But what if we don’t change our current path? I’m sure this NASA satellite image is familiar to all of you. Over the last 600,000 years, the earth has not experienced CO2 concentrations as high as they are now. They have been relatively stable closer to the recommended level of less than 350 ppm.
Our average global surface temperature has risen over the last 130 years and is expected to continue to rise. As we all know this leads to higher sea levels and climate change. Here in Illinois, the climate change forecast is that we will continue to increase in precipitation in all seasons. We are going to gradually see increases in rainfall and snow fall. Our yards, farms, and other natural areas will be victims to more mold, fungus, and insect invasions.
As I mentioned earlier, our earth through natural processes can absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. But due to the increase in global surface temperatures and the increase in atmospheric concentrations, our oceans are working overtime to absorb the CO2 which is leading to higher CO2 concentrations in our oceans. If present trends continue, surface pH in our oceans will drop and will be 150 percent more acidic by year 2100 than it was in 1800. This acidification has myriad effects. By favoring some marine microbes over others, it is likely to alter the availability of key nutrients like iron and nitrogen. For similar reasons it may let more sunlight penetrate the sea surface. By changing the basic chemistry of seawater, acidification is also expected to reduce the water's ability to absorb and muffle low-frequency sound by up to 40 percent, making some parts of the ocean noisier. Finally, acidification interferes with reproduction in some species and interferes with the ability of others—the so-called calcifiers—to form shells and stony skeletons of calcium carbonate.
And lets not forget about air pollution. The electric sector is the largest source of industrial (stack) emissions of toxic air pollution in the United States. In 2009, coal-and oil-fired power plants accounted for nearly 50 percent of all reported toxic pollution from industrial sources. The mercury in the fish we can no longer eat is attributed to power plant emissions. Asthma cases in children have been growing at a growing rate.
U.S. energy consumption has more than doubled since 1960. Energy consumption for the industrial sector showed the least increase in the last five decades, expanding by 38% since 1960. By comparison, residential consumption has increased by more than 130 percent in the last five decades. So we as residents can’t quite pass the buck!
And one last point is due to our country’s desire for cheaper fuel sources and energy independence, more and more will migrate to electric vehicles. This too will cause a significant increase in electrical demand, especially in the residential sector. By 2015, there should be more than 100 EV models available and will represent a little over 6% in total vehicle sales.
You may have come here today to learn more about renewable systems because you are interested in installing a system on your home or business. Or maybe I have been successful in convincing you to personally invest in renewable energy! But wait! Not so fast! According to the Department of Energy, “Before selecting system components and sizing a renewable energy system for an existing home, you should evaluate your energy consumption patterns and try to reduce your home’s electricity use. By understanding your energy habits and becoming more energy efficient, you can reduce the size of the PV system you’ll need, lowering both your capital and operating costs.”
For example, if you invest in a renewable energy system without first taking a look at efficiency upgrades, you will end up spending money on a system that is larger than you really need and you will be increasing the amount of time it takes to achieve your return on investment.
So lets take a look at how our homes use energy. 43% of the energy we use in our home is to control the temperature of the air inside the home.
The temperature in our home is controlled and/or maintained in three main ways: 1. Air leakage (envelope) 2. Heat resistance (insulation) 3. Major Appliance (efficiency) And the good news is it is more effective to change the way your home behaves than to change the way you behave. So you don’t have to be a warden at the light switch or thermostat in order to be effectively energy efficient. And finally, once you have reduced your total operational load, you can focus on making your own energy with a renewable system.
As always, the best way to approach energy efficiency upgrades for your home would be to hire a professional such as a home energy auditor. The blower door test is conducted by a home energy professional during a home assessment or energy audit. The blower door test pulls air from inside the home and out the front door in order to simulate a 20 mph wind hitting the home from all directions. In this negative pressure state, the energy professional can identify air leakage in all of the home’s envelope penetrations. If temperatures allow, an infrared camera can be used to further identify any issues.
Even without an energy audit or a door blower test, it is important for you to define your home’s thermal envelope. For example, most home’s attic is outside the thermal envelope and the basement is inside the thermal envelope. Air moving in or out of a home’s envelope should be controlled as much as possible. It should be as solid as possible to prevent air leakage and it should be well insulated. Air leakage is the most common culprit in energy loss. So lets take a look at the most common air leaks in a home.
One of the most common issues and commonly overlooked issues is our attic access point. The attic access panel should be insulated and weather stripping should be added. The image on the left is an infrared photo of a ceiling attic panel. The dark areas show where cold air is penetrating the home. Shown here on the right is what is called an attic tent. It is perfect for an attic access door with a pull-down ladder preventing insulation on its reverse side. Any major insulation company can install these for you or you can do it yourself by purchasing one at a major hardware store.
This image shows a properly insulated and sealed rim joist. The rim joist is the wood frame that sits on top of a home’s foundation. There is a lot of opportunity for air to leak into a home’s envelope between the foundation and this frame. Air can pass through fiberglass insulation, so it is important to stop the air flow with an expanding foam such as “great stuff” and a rigid foam board.
The biggest misconception in energy efficiency at home is most people tell me, “I know, I need new windows!” Most of the time they are wrong. Drafty windows are typically the result of air flow within our walls that can be pulled from either the top plate in the attic or the rim joist at the foundation. Even if your windows are functioning well and sealing properly (check the seal where the sashes overlap) It is important to know what may be hiding behind the decorative trim around the windows. If your home was built quickly, or windows were installed improperly, you may be surprised at what you can find. In these images it is clear how air can sneak from inside the walls and into this room to create a draft. These gaps in the drywall around the window frame can be easily sealed with caulk or spray foam designed for windows. The trim can then be replaced to hide the caulk or foam.
Can lights in a home’s envelope can be a big problem. They now sell can lights with a sealed casing in order to minimize air flow to or from the attic. Another obvious hole in our envelope is the chimney flue. Even if your chimney has a damper it probably is not air tight. A simple fix is to insert what is called a chimney balloon when the chimney is not in use. Also, please keep in mind making a fire on a cold day may sound like a great idea, but draft created by the fire in the fire place actually drains your home’s warm air. In order to minimize this, crack open a window near the fire place and turn down the furnace. [Show Outlet Inserts]
Now lets talk a little about insulation. 80% of homes in the US are either under insulated or not insulated at all. If your home was built before 1980, it may fall into this category. Check your attic insulation level. This is the easiest and least expensive place to add insulation to your home. The amount of insulation your home needs depends on what climate zone the home is in. The recommended levels for our area is between R 38 – R 49. R38 is the minimum building code for new homes and R49 is the level required for tax incentive programs. [Show Insulation Ruler]
If it is time to replace a major appliance such as a furnace or air conditioning unit, make sure your HVAC contractor doesn’t just replace the unit with the same size unit. Your heating/cooling load can and will change as you increase the efficiency of your home. The contractor should evaluate your duct system too in order to determine if any supply or return ducts should be added to make sure your system is well balanced. And of course, you should purchase the most energy efficient system you can afford!
In the not too distant future all of our home’s energy systems will be programmed and synchronized to minimize your home’s base load and minimize your consumption peaks in order to save energy and save money. We will be able to read more real-time information from all of our appliances about their energy use and will be able to control everything from our smart phones. Home energy management systems will be more and more common in the coming years.
Thank you very much for your time today. We have taken a look at the US energy consumption data and trends and their environmental consequences. I showed you the top priorities for how to increase your own personal efficiency. And I explained why it is important to make your home as efficient as possible before investing in a renewable system. Please join me tonight after the Summit at Sullivans. The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Green Leadership Council, NCEC and Green Drinks is hosting a social event and the first drink will be free! You can call the Chamber of Commerce to register for this free event. Does anyone have any questions?
2012 DuPage Environmental Summit
It Starts With Energy Efficiency Stephanie Hastings, President Naperville for Clean Energy and Conservation
Non-fossil energy use grows rapidly, but fossil fuels still provide 78 percent of total energy use in 2035
US Energy Consumption Increases 3.4% in 2009-2011 (quadrillion BTUs)
US Renewable Energy Production Up 23% in Two Years
Carbon Bath -“The Carbon Bathtub,” National Geographic, December 2009
The average global surface temperature of Earth has risen by .8 degrees Celsius since 1880, and is now increasing at a rate of about .1 degree Celsius per decade. This image shows how 2010 temperatures compare to average temperatures from a baseline period of 1951-1980 Credit: NASA GISS
Oceans absorb roughly a million tons of CO2 every hour. -“The Acid Sea,” National Geographic, April 2011
US Toxic Air Pollution by Sector, Totals Emitted in 2009 (lbs.)
US Energy Consumption by Sector 2009 (trillion BTUs)
Electric Vehicle Sales Forecast by Company for 2015 (thousands of units)
Heating and Cooling <ul><li>Regular “clean & check” service </li></ul><ul><li>Change your filter </li></ul><ul><li>Programmable Thermostat </li></ul><ul><li>Check your utility provider for energy efficiency programs and rebates </li></ul>
It Starts With Energy Efficiency Stephanie Hastings, President Naperville for Clean Energy and Conservation www.ncec.us [email_address] mobile phone 312-523-4347 Green Social Tonight at Sullivan’s Steak House! 5:30-7:00 pm Call 630-355-4141 to register for a free drink!