Becoming Energy Efficient?

Recently, the domestic electricity tariff in Delhi was hiked by a steep 26 percent. It attracted strong resentment from consumers who protested the hike with demonstrations all over the city. Such a reaction is understandable, considering the increased financial burden on the average citizen, who is already braving high inflation in food prices, living expenses and more, not to mention the several hikes in petrol prices this past year. Having said that, I wonder if we can look at this tariff hike as an opportunity rather than an insurmountable challenge, and develop new ways to become more energy efficient as a nation.

To me, one of the ways in which we can reduce the brunt of the increased power costs is by resorting to energy efficient appliances and lighting. Electrical appliances are a major source of household energy consumption, especially in higher-income urban households, and its share in household energy consumption is likely to increase significantly in the future because of growth in per capita incomes. Various initiatives on energy efficiency of appliances have been taken in the recent past. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) introduced the energy efficiency norms and made it mandatory for companies to implement. Currently, ACs, refrigerators and distribution transformers are covered under energy efficiency star ratings and soon it will be applicable to other appliances like television sets and geysers.

This provides a platform to various private corporation to contribute in resolving the power problem by designing innovative energy efficient appliances. According to Daizo Ito, President, Panasonic India, “Big consumer durable brands have realized the importance of eco friendly products and research is key to new innovations. Energy saving features are now integral to products that not only reduce power bills but also preserve our habits.” The Siemens Group, for example, introduced the iDos washing machine as one of their most advanced eco-friendly innovations in the field of domestic laundry. The iDos is called to be a champion when it comes to saving energy. Many such innovations have come up lately, like Panasonic EcoNavi products, LG’s five-door refrigirator with multi digital sensors, making consumers more conscious of energy efficiency in their daily lives.

As for lighting, using energy efficient lighting can increase generating capacity while also reducing the growth of carbon dioxide emissions. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can prove to be an efficient alternative to traditional incandescent lamps for provision of high-quality lighting services. But despite the availability, its use is limited. I came across a recent discussion paper, on Options for Energy Efficiency in India and Barriers to Their Adoption by Soma Bhattacharya and Maureen L. Cropper. It raises some critical questions like why are these technologies being- or not being- adopted? What policies should be implemented to encourage their adoption? As per the report, “even though CFLs are usually more expensive than incandescent lamps, it is estimated that the payback period is 1.2 years, which is cost-effective, given the longer life of these lamps. It has also been estimated that the switch from a kerosene lamp to a 13-watt CFL would pay for itself in less than 1 year. Currently, many CFLs are commercially available, however, their sales are low. Lack of awareness, uncertainty, and high initial costs are major factors leading to lower rates of adoption of more efficient lighting systems.’’

Initiatives like star categorization and introduction of CFLs can go a long way if properly implemented. Energy efficiency is the need of the hour and it is time to be innovative and design appliances that meet a minimum level of efficiency at affordable prices. Consumers must be made aware of environmentally friendly products in the market. Let’s make use of the rising power prices as an opportunity to adopt energy- efficient technologies.

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