21 May 2007 - 09:30
  • News Code: 105128

Recent surveys of global company executives and consumers show a growing shift in awareness of energy consumption.

More than 1,000 consumers were asked, “If utilities buying renewable power on your behalf raised your rates 5 percent for the same amount of power and the entire cost was attributable to the higher price of renewables, would you be willing to pay an extra 5 percent?“ More than half of respondents, with a margin of error of about 3.5 percent, said they would be willing to pay the increase.

The survey was conducted by the Energy and Resources industry group of Deloitte Services LP.

“There’s something going on,“ said Branko Terzic, energy and resources expert for Deloitte.

In last year’s poll, most people did something, but their efforts were lifestyle changes like turning off lights or turning down the thermostat. Another group of people bought efficient appliances when they needed to replace older devices, but only if the appliance needed replacing anyway. As people replace things, they will buy new devices that are more efficient, Terzic said.

Still, only about 2 percent or 3 percent of the public said they had spent money specifically for conservation efforts. Those people spent money to weatherize their house, put in weather stripping, put in better insulation--but it was a very small number who spent actual money for conservation.

However, while there have been steady increases in efficiency or products, there’s a counter-trend of buying more devices. Computers, televisions, cell phones, DVD players and IPods all must be plugged in and use electricity, Terzic said. And there are data centers that support many of those devices that use a tremendous amount of electricity. So while efficiency may be improving, statistics can be misleading because people are using more electricity.

“You could easily have eight or nine power plugs in your briefcase and don’t think you’re extravagant. You jog to work and think you’re a very environmentally conscious person,“ Terzic said.

A number of companies have decided that energy is a controllable cost.

“You don’t just get stuck with a bill you can’t do anything about; there are a number of things you can do,“ Terzic said.

The minimum thing a company should do is make sure it knows what its bills are, where they are, who’s paying them and then making sure only the amount of energy needed is what’s being purchased by shopping around for a better supplier or making sure the company is on the cheapest tariff. Then companies should look at use, asking questions about what energy is used for is important, Terzic said.

The gas industry has also become more efficient. According to the American Gas Association, over the past 20 years there’s been an annual 2 percent improvement in efficiency in gas usage, Terzic said.

New homes are built with much more efficient furnaces than old homes, and when furnaces need replacing, new furnaces come with much better efficiency. So adding new houses increases the overall efficiency and replacing old gas furnaces also lowers the average.

Energy costs can be manageable both in the purchasing of energy and in the amount of energy you need to purchase.

“As energy costs increase, and they inevitably will increase, more and more companies will become aware that it’s an issue they need to address,“ Terzic said.

While only a small number of companies have a position dedicated to energy control, the trend is growing.

“Having a chief energy officer or a chief sustainability officer is an investment, not a cost, on which you’ll get a rate of return,“ said Joseph Stanislaw, independent senior adviser to the Energy & Resources Practice of Deloitte and Touche USA LLP.

 

PIN/ UPI.Com

News Code 105128

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