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Sunday, April 24, 2011
Summer energy crunch
The summer energy crunch will be here soon, so the government, companies and individuals need to start planning right now for what will surely be a long, hot and energy-crunched summer. Many ideas to save energy have been proposed and a few make good sense, but enacting them requires action now.
Sony has proposed a mandatory two-week summer vacation for its employees. The company says that will save up to 25 percent of energy costs by reducing the operation of air-conditioning, elevators and other facilities for its 16,000 workers. Starting earlier and finishing earlier, and reducing overtime, may soon become necessities. That will create a healthier workplace by giving employees more time to relax, allowing companies greater flexibility and reducing energy consumption.
Companies will need to reconsider their energy consumption and no longer be allowed to excessively use electricity, even if they pay. The Coca-Cola Co. has promised to find ways to reduce the electricity consumed by its 250,000 vending machines. Other beverage industry groups have said they will reduce the power consumed by their 870,000 vending machines by 25 percent.
Some companies have proposed running them on solar cells, which is an admirable long-term goal, but in the short run, beverage companies need to find more immediate ways to save electricity while they continue to operate their businesses.
7-Eleven announced it would install energy-efficient LED lights in its convenience stores, as well as solar panels at some of its stores. LED lights bring down the amount of energy consumed and though the initial expense is high, the long-term benefits are clear. Pachinko parlors, train stations, malls, and large stores that use lots of lights all need to start investing now.
Individuals have responsibilities, too, to make their homes and workplaces more energy efficient. Lists of suggestions and tips are not hard to find.
For many people and organizations, the savings they can make in energy use may seem insignificant. However one of the lessons of the Tohoku disaster is that the country is closely interconnected. Each energy-saving step, small as it may be, adds up as quickly as donations to the Tohoku survivors have.
The unquestioned belief that energy will always be there has already been shaken by the rolling electricity outages after the Fukushima nuclear accidents. The long-term recovery of Japan depends on the changes in energy consumption made now.