Pump up your tyres and cut fuel cost

Consumption efficiency may be the only option: In the three years since Mandil became head of the International Energy Agency, oil price has tripled and, he concedes, could continue rising. "That means, in my view, that the only way consuming countries and consuming communities have to loosen the tightness of the market is to be very serious indeed in energy efficiency improvement."

A lot can be done now: He argued that a lot could be done immediately to slow the increase in consumption of oil and gas – and at acceptable costs. This was particularly so in the area of transportation.

Sounds crazy, but … "This is something which seems a little bit silly or funny but which is very important: our estimation is that if all cars in the OECD countries had a tyre pressure which was optimum, you could save as much as 5 per cent of oil consumption." This is simply because cars use more fuel when tyres are insufficiently inflated.

A huge difference: A 5 per cent saving means 4 million barrels a day. That is double the existing spare global capacity. Said Mandil: "It’s a huge difference. The question is how to obtain that. We are convinced that governments can play a major role by making public opinion aware of that and perhaps organising public education and perhaps organising free tyre-pressure checking."

Stand-by power another challenge: Mandil lists other possibilities for increasing energy efficiency through simple changes to consumer habits, such as reducing the amount of electricity consumed by electrical equipment with stand-by functions. The IEA calculates electricity consumption by all OECD member countries could be cut by 20 gigawatts of peak consumption by introducing one-watt stand-by systems.

But no one cares: "This is possible with existing technologies," he says. "But nobody cares about that. When we buy a computer, we don’t care about its stand-by consumption. It is not a criterion for buyer appreciation."

Not sexy enough for governments: Mandil sees it as vital that governments act to make consumers aware of the role they can play to reduce energy use but concedes it is easy to be pessimistic about the willingness of governments to take such action.

The Australian Financial Review, 8/5/2006, p. 60

Source: Erisk Net  

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