Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Steven Chu: “I’m an energy efficiency nut”

October 20, 2009

He unplugged the extra refrigerator in the basement. He got a tankless water heater and reduced the heat setting. He turned down the air conditioning last summer and used fans to keep cool.

Yes, Energy Secretary Steven Chu acknowledged, “I’m an energy efficiency nut.”

The Nobel physics laureate said he’s slowly weatherizing his home in the Washington DC area, but “weatherizing” isn’t a word he likes. “I’m decreasing its energy consumption and making money,” was how he put it at a Reuters Washington Summit. Chu figures his energy bills are about half what the home’s previous owners paid.

But he said that he, and most people, could still do more.

“In terms of energy efficiency, it’s what the economists would say is a market failure … Most people don’t have the knowledge or inclination, there’s inertia, they just can’t be bothered, they let some things slip,” Chu said. And he himself is not immune: “We’ve been living in the house for five months and it’s still a work in progress — and I’m an energy efficiency nut.”

“Going to the hardware store, getting the foam and putting it around your hot water pipe, that doesn’t take that long for a homeowner to do it themselves,” he said. “It’s a no-brainer, but people don’t do it.”

Time for some stepped-up public education about energy efficiency? “We’re trying, we’re trying!”

Chu bikes around Washington when he can, but said that is mostly to keep fit rather than save on fuel. Still, he’s working on whittling down the time it takes to ride his bicycle from his home to the city center.

Click here for more Reuters Washington Summit news.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (Chu at Reuters Washington Summit, October 20, 2009)

Comments

Note that tankless water heaters may be a good alternative for businesses as well as homes. Pubs, Restaurants, Hotels, Motels, and more, all use TWH’s for the very large cost savings, being able to expense or depreciate the up-front costs. So if you have an in-home business, or you just want to make points with your boss by cutting expenses, keep that in mind.

 

Secretary Chu — good for you, Sir!

Posted by MekhongKurt | Report as abusive
 

OK.Stephen! So you’re a nut! Why should you want ME to be a nut? Is it lonely at the top?
Well, you’ve now got a nutty Nobel Laureate at the top to keep you company!
You and your buddy bring to mind a former Chinese Foreign Minister whom you both undoubtedly remember, but whose name you both probably never dreamed would join you and your boss so closely together in your madness…
Give up? Yep! CHU and LIE!

Posted by elixelx | Report as abusive
 

Mr. Chu says he is “saving money”. Is he? How much is he spending to weatherize his home versus his utility savings? Does his investment create a positive rate of return?

Posted by Thomas | Report as abusive
 

thomas says-
“Mr. Chu says he is “saving money”. Is he? How much is he spending to weatherize his home versus his utility savings? Does his investment create a positive rate of return?”

didnt he just say that you can go out and put foam around a hot water pipe! does it need to vbe spelled out for you?

elixelx says-
“OK.Stephen! So you’re a nut! Why should you want ME to be a nut? Is it lonely at the top?”

typical name calling. doesnt address the content of what chu is saying. these are good examples why the US is behind in efficiency.

Posted by chuck | Report as abusive
 

Great work by Mr. Chu – he makes efficiency attainable by taking it one step at a time. There are little things everyone can do, you don’t need to install a solar array to be efficient.

Also, you can increase the return on your efficiency investments by enrolling in a program like http://www.MyEmissionsExchange.com, which will pay you for reducing your home’s energy use. Really! It’s free!

 

Nice Blog…..found it informative somewhat….

 

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