Monday, October 29, 2007

is saving a penny worth it?

As a blogger blogging about ways to save a few cents here and there, one has to consider whether it's "worth it" to focus energy on saving small amounts when the resource consumptions issues are so large. I try to at least only focus on areas where the savings are "easy" so that the cost of learning about and implementing the savings are not out weighed by the opportunity cost (I could be outside planting a tree or for really low payback savings things I could instead be riding a bike to generate electricity )

One definitely has to acknowledge that saving a few dollars on electricity is not going to solve global warming, but it's easy to look at the big problems and feel discourage about your ability to impact on a big scale, and we certainly don't want people to learn helplessness (c.f. Martin Seligman who does research that shows if you learn that your actions have no affect it can lead to unhappiness or depression like symptoms and you no longer take action to change the situation even if it's easy Learned Helplessness: A Theory for the Age of Personal Control)

So, while we are still looking for big ways to help, is it worth it to tackle the little things?

Turning off the lights when you aren't in the room saves a few cents a day (or week if you are using fluorescent or LEDs)
Turning off the water while brushing your teeth

To the average well-to-do american (and by that I mean almost all of us are well-to-do by international standards) the financial reward and or vague hard to quantify environmental reward may not be enough to make it worth our while or hit us in the pocketbooks (which is americanese for "make it worth our while")

However, for all those of you who have ever said "If I had a nickel for every..." think about all those electrons saved in aggregate!

I'm reminded of a book I read once about the history of American Airlines and how their chairman pushed for cost savings, and they saved multi tens of thousands of dollars a year in GAS by going from two olives in their salads to one.

When you are the size of walmart, taking the light out of employee coke machines saves $1 million / year in electricity according to this article:
How Wal-Mart is saving millions with clean tech | Tech news blog - CNET

So if everybody could reduce the amount of lighting electricty they used by a little bit, and turn off the water while brushing their teeth, maybe it'd add up to a number that may not solve anything relative to our GDP but would sound like a big number for most of our wallets, and that'd help motivate us to do the easy and small things to help save resources.

Coming soon power measurement comparisons of the 65nm "falcon" revision of the xbox360 that is silently appearing on shelves now, with the old version.

1 comment:

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