As with many areas of public interest, the common wisdom surrounding energy conservation consists of myths and legends, rules of thumb and superstitions. We're given guidelines as soundbites, catchy but insubstantial. We trust them blindly, not knowing whether our actions make any significant impact.

I found the list below, proposed alternatives to nuclear energy, in a brochure on the Beyond Nuclear website. I was curious whether their claims were true, and if true, whether they were significant. Mouse over each claim to read and play with an interactive analysis. Mouse over any statistic to see the source.

As you explore this document, imagine a world where we expect every claim to be accompanied by an explorable analysis, and every statistic to be linked to a primary source. Imagine collecting data and designing analyses in a collaborative wiki-like manner.

Digital documents aren't subject to the constraints of paper. We should hold modern propaganda to a higher standard. By all means, be catchy, eloquent, passionate, and inspiring. But we must be able to dive through the pretty words to see the data and sources beneath.

Mouse over a claim to see an analysis.

Premise

Suppose of US households always turned off lights in unoccupied rooms.

Result

This would save TWh per year.

Context

This is the output of nuclear reactors.

or of the US nuclear reactors.

This is the output of coal plants.

or of the US coal plants.

This is of US residential lighting energy.

This is of US residential electricity consumption.

This is of US total electricity consumption.

Calculation

Edit the source code of this analysis.

Premise

Suppose of US households unplugged these items when not in useat night:

Computer

Printer

Internet

Audio System

TV

DVR

DVD/VCR

Microwave

Result

This would save TWh per year.

Context

This is the output of nuclear reactors.

or of the US nuclear reactors.

This is the output of coal plants.

or of the US coal plants.

This is of US residential electricity consumption.

This is of US total electricity consumption.

Calculation

Edit the source code of this analysis.

Premise

Suppose of US households replaced bulbs at random(the most-used) with a compact fluorescents.

Result

This would save TWh per year.

Context

This is the output of nuclear reactors.

or of the US nuclear reactors.

This is the output of coal plants.

or of the US coal plants.

This is of US residential lighting energy.

This is of US residential electricity consumption.

This is of US total electricity consumption.

Calculation

Edit the source code of this analysis.

Ten Brighter Ideas
1
Conservation is key and simply achieved. Start by
  • turning off lights
  • unplugging electrical equipment when not in use
2
If every U.S. household installed just one compact fluorescent light bulb, it would displace the electricity provided by one nuclear reactor. 1=1!
Twenty compact fluorescents in every household would displace the need for at least 25% of all U.S. reactors.
3
Updating heating, lighting, cooling and other electrical appliances with energy-efficient models can
  • save more energy than all operating U.S. reactors produce annually
  • reduce home electricity use by at least 20%.
4
Energy efficiency is the cheapest and fastest way to reduce carbon emissions.
It is least seven times more cost-effective at displacing carbon than nuclear power.
5
Homeowners and renters alike can choose to buy green power instead of nuclear-generated electricity. Check with your electric utility to find out how.
6
Wind power in 12 U.S. states could generate 2.5 times the current U.S. electricity production.
Each of six states, individually, could produce more wind energy than the electricity produced by all operating U.S. reactors.
7
Solar resources on just 1% of the U.S. landmass are three times as large as all U.S. wind energy potential.
8
Conversion of just 15% of U.S. parking lot acreage to photovoltaic rooftops would produce more electricity than the U.S. generates today.
9
Support for green collar jobs provides more opportunity for more people by building sustainable communities and a robust economy.
10
The U.S. can become both nuclear-free and carbon-free. Go to www.ieer.org/carbonfree to learn more.
US Census Bureau. Population Estimates
307006550
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. US Nuclear Generation of Electricity : December 2009
104
796.488e12
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. Electric Power Annual : Table 1.2: Existing Capacity by Energy Source, 2008
1445
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. Electric Power Monthly : Table 1.1. Net Generation by Energy Source
1764e12
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Increasing Costs in Electric Markets (Staff Report), 19 June 2008, via Maryland PIRG, The High Cost of Nuclear Power
7.5e9
John Rust and Geoffrey Rothwell. On the Optimal Lifetime of Nuclear Power Plants
40
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. Nuclear Power
1.242e-5
0.558e-5
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. Detailed U.S. Spent Nuclear Fuel Data - Table 3
2237.825
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. 2005 Residential Energy Consumption Survey : Table US3. Total Consumption by Fuels Used
1275e12
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. 2003 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey : Table E5A. Electricity Consumption (kWh) by End Use for All Buildings
1043e12
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. 2002 Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey : Table 1.1. First Use of Energy for All Purposes
832e12
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. Electric Power Monthly : Table 1.1. Net Generation by Energy Source
3951e12
Lawrence Berkeley National Labs: Energy Analysis Department. Standby Power Summary Table
8.9
2.8
0.8
1.1
1.26
5.26
1.37
5.37
3.84
6.25
11
1.66
8.32
3.06
36.7
1.55
4.68
5.04
3.08
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. 2005 Residential Energy Consumption Survey : Table HC2.11 Home Electronics Characteristics
42.7e6
109.7e6
45.0e6
13.6e6
37.8e6
27.7e6
5.0e6
14.2e6
4.1e6
16.7e6
2.4e6
26.3e6
74.6e6
273.7e6
132.4e6
139.4e6
36.1e6
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. 2005 Residential Energy Consumption Survey : Table HC2.11 Home Appliances Characteristics
97.7e6
Nielsen (via Media Daily News)
28e6
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. 2005 Residential Energy Consumption Survey : Table HC2.12 Home Electronics Usage Indicators
6.2
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. End-Use Consumption of Electricity 2001
189.63e12
161.94e12
119.82e12
107.99e12
104.26e12
68.36e12
40.77e12
39.63e12
34.34e12
33.2e12
30.08e12
23.86e12
21.79e12
20.02e12
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. 2005 Residential Energy Consumption Survey : Table HC2.13 Lighting Usage Indicators
19.3e6, 28.6e6, 29.5e6, 14.7e6, 9.3e6, 9.7e6
37.9e6, 23.0e6, 24.9e6, 12.5e6, 6.4e6, 6.4e6
84.1e6, 14.8e6, 7.8e6, 2.0e6, 1.0e6, 1.4e6
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. 2005 Residential Energy Consumption Survey : Table HC6.5 Space Heating Usage Indicators
111.1e6
56.4e6
0.0e6, 30.0e6, 34.8e6, 18.4e6, 15.9e6, 12.0e6
0.0e6, 17.1e6, 16.1e6, 9.4e6, 7.9e6, 4.1e6
0.0e6, 12.9e6, 18.7e6, 9.0e6, 8.0e6, 7.9e6
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. Residential Lighting Use and Potential Savings, 1996 : Table 4.18. Number of Lights by Room by Hours Used, 1993
2.25
6.5
US Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. Residential Lighting Use and Potential Savings, 1996 : Appendix B. End-Use Estimation Methodology
100