"...to provide a complementary model which, when using an energy unit of account as the basis of value judgements ..."
The energy unit of account resonates with me. I use it to calculate break even to decide whether and when it is worth to buy new devices. Surprise, surprise, when technology improvements and foreseeable years of use combine, it makes a lot of eco-nomic sense to pay for specific eco-logic upgrades. Here is how it works for me.
Decide on one energy unit
As my energy unit to judge the value of upgrading home and office equipment I settled on the kWh (kilowatt-hour). It has a clear price when bought as electricity, and we can readily convert other forms of energy into to it (e.g. a liter of gasoline, diesel or kerosene contain roughly 10kWh).
Let me sum up my takeaway first. Further down you can find how I got here, and how you can profit from asking the right questions about energy and timing to get a better return on money spent.
As consumers and professional buyers we can vote with our money every day, and some of our decisions have a payback time and may generate profits. Negawatts for example. Payback on a power strip to cut standby losses may be as close as 2-3 months. As LED lighting comes down in price, businesses and home users upgrade because the savings outpace many other investments, and the risks are very low.
When a technology breakthrough and affordable pricing combine, it may make economic sense to throw out an old refrigerator, because the new one may pay for itself within 7 years, and after 14 years you earned a second one for free. The time shortens the more expensive the energy is.
Presenting on Everyday Sustainability
Last weekend, I presented such case examples to international students gathering in Tokyo for the ESD 2012 forum.
Three factors are key to find out what will work for you:
- the purchase price. Is it within reach right now? If you owe it may be better to pay that off first.
- how long it will take until the energy savings of the new compared to the old offset the purchase price (minus the resale value of the old),
- personal factors like life plans, comfort, time saving and feelings about new vs old.
With that in mind, enjoy my quick presentation about six easy ways to upgrade at home, showing examples from Japan, and a global technology cost curve by McKinsey. To watch the videos, click the image on a slide or the hyperlinks.
Meet Gunter Pauli
He is a remarkable achiever and advocate of the blue economy. Having seen him on video (blogged about a year ago), I enjoyed the rare opportunity to finally meet Gunter in person at the ESD Forum 2012. Like the students, I was fascinated by his personable and warmhearted presentation on so many new methods and techniques to generate multiple revenue streams while respecting Mother Earth. He basically shows how we can build with what we have and turn unavoidable waste into income-generating opportunities. Felt so honored to share the floor during the discussion phase. Thanks to Henning, the tireless organizer. Still in Tokyo with the students, he just announced ESD Forum 2013.
[Update 2012-10-22: Thanks Henning for this photo ].
That’s it for now. Thank you for reading. I have plans for more. What examples of technology upgrades would you like to see calculated?