Dr. Steven Chu Answers Questions from Citizens About Energy Conservation (Video)

steven chu energy secretary photo

Photo: Youtube screen grab from DOE video.
Casual Q&A; With the Secretary of Energy
Who better to answer questions about energy conservation than a Nobel-winning physicist Secretary of Energy? The Department of Energy (DOE) has asked people to submit questions about energy, and a 15 minutes video of Steven Chu giving his answers has now been posted (see below). Most questions have to do with very concrete things that you can do, not so much about high-level DOE policy.

There are also answers to questions that couldn't be asked during the video Q&A; here. For example:

Robert Wu (via e-mail)
QUESTION: In China, on-demand water heaters are widely used, and no one uses water tanks to keep hot water around all the time.

When we remodeled our home in California three years ago, I wanted to install on-demand water heater to save gas, but the architect said that it is not widely used in the US and not available in our market. Wouldn't it save energy to not keep hot water ON all the time? It will certainly save on having to install a big water heater tank. Or is it an issue of changing consumer behavior? I hope the market has changed since my renovation and that on-demand water heaters are available now.

ANSWER: Water heating accounts for 12-15% of energy use in U.S. households, so better efficiency for water heaters will have a significant benefit for American families. The good news is that water heating technology is getting more efficient. ENERGY STAR(r) water heaters are now available in a variety of forms, including high-efficiency gas storage water heaters (these are the most traditional format), gas condensing water heaters, solar hot water heaters, heat pump water heaters, and on-demand water heaters. Each of these types of water heaters has its own advantages, but all of them save you money over the non-Energy Star models. Consumers that replace a water heater today have many more choices in technologies (and savings) than they did just a few years ago. Add in Federal tax credits available until December 31, 2010 (www.energysavers.gov/taxcredits) and there's even more savings. There may also be rebates available in your state (www.energysavers.gov/rebates).

More on Energy Efficiency
Should Energy Conservation be Framed in Terms of What Would be Lost?
2009 Snapshot of U.S. Energy Use by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Renewable Energy Production Increased 8.3% Last Year in Europe, Coal Consumption Dropped 16.3%

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