As I approach the 5 month mark of this CarFree experiment/burgeoning lifestyle and return to the United States from Northern Europe I’m slowly coming to believe that energy independence starts at home.
Without a true at home/personal level movement towards individuals understanding their energy demands, the top down government incentive programs will only serve as temporary solutions for mainstream renewables and commercial energy independence. Currently, renewable energy can’t compete with the traditional energy system in head to head competition because most of us (myself included) don’t fully value the energy we use for many reasons. We don’t have to pay a lot for our energy(yet) therefore we don’t currently monitor our usage closely in search of savings and that makes complete sense. But if we demand continued low energy costs, at some point we will have to grasp the true value of that energy to recognize where shifts need to be made.
Larger commercial entities have already begun to grasp this and are pushing into renewables to protect themselves from the rise in energy prices and increase their independence. This market will allow for substantial success but individual consumption will continue to drive energy demand and the overall industry.
I’m not advocating for everyone to live CarFree, although I encourage it, and I refuse to preach as I’m in no position to do so. But what I can offer are personal observations based on my CarFree experience.
I started this adventure for a lot of reasons, most financial but a few out of a growing environmental concern and it has served to open my eyes to my ingrained habits/perception of needs. I’m not sure what hard lessons I have learned thus far but even this short period of CarFreeBrad has given me heightened awareness of my energy usage, demands and perceptions.
In life as in business, you can’t evaluate, monitor or fix a problem until you are aware of it. So in the life cycle of personal energy usage I have a long way to go but for me and everyone like me that first step to awareness will most likely be the hardest.