Conservation ads on TV?

Did anyone else see those ads on TV last night for conservation, brought to us by some national oil and energy board, or something like that? They were on during NBC Nightly News, but I was tied up on a phone call and couldn't write down the web address they put up. If you know what I'm talking about, please comment. Otherwise, you can use this as an open thread.
I saw one.  I think.  I wasn't watching NBC.  I'm pretty sure I saw it on CBS.  (Yes, I admit it: I watch Survivor.  Call it a guilty pleasure.)

They showed a family.  Closeups of the kids' feet, in warm slippers.  They wanted people to lower their thermostats five degrees.  The sponsor sounded like a trade organization to me, though I don't remember the name.  


We tape and watch Survivor (so no spoilers, please), and I found it amusing to see a Jeff Probst speaking at the ASPO conference.  I'm sure he gets a lot of jokes.  I used to get a lot of Steely Dan comments so I can sympathize with his plight.

Ianqui, why not leave this up as a weekend open thread?

As far as winter heating, our pellet stove vendor came by to fix a stuck rod, and advised my wife that replacing our natural gas with an electric water heater would save us money.  Again, I'm surprised because I thought NG was more efficient at heating than electricity.  

We are considering terminating our gas service because we don't run the furnace but are still billed $25 to $30 a month just for the service charge and to heat water.  I plan to put in roof-mounted solar water heating with a small electric heater for backup.

NG is more efficient than electricity.  OTOH, electricity generated from coal or nukes or hydro can be cheaper than NG.
I think that electric water heaters are more efficient than NG heaters in the sense that a larger fraction of the energy that you buy becomes heat energy in your water.  NG heaters have a chimney and/or vent where some heated air will escape and not heat water.

If the price per kWh of electricity and of NG are comparable, you will get more hot water for your money with an electric heater.

Assuming NG is $12 per 1000 cubic feet, that is about $0.04 per kWh.  That is less than half the cost of electricity, so an NG water heater would need to be fairly inefficient to cost the same as an electric heater.

Only if you live right next to the power station otherwise the loss thru the transmission lines are way higher than burning the NG in your home. Up to 50% loss thu an electrical distrubution system.
That's the power of local distributed energy generation. We should have a goal of making smaller geographic areas responsible for a more significant percentage of their electrical power generation.

How about if each county or congressional district needed to provide at least 50% of its own electrical power? I think that would transform debates about conservation and the NIMBYism around wind power generation.

Each community would have to figure out the best way of getting to that number - if you want coal powered electrical plants, fine, but you have to live next to it. If you don't like coal or wind, then you'll just have to figure out how to lower demand.

50% losses?  Here are the 2003 figures:
Net generation, 3,883 billion kilowatthours.
Total retail sales, 3,488 billion kilowatthours.

You can't sell your losses, and the losses (worst-case) are about 10%.

I saw it during the Nightly News.  There were two--one telling you how much you'd save for each degree you turn down your thermostat.  The other one told you how much your mpg would improve if you drove 55 instead of 60.

Initially it seemed that the sponsor was US Dept of Energy because that was prominently shown on the screen.  I guess they were just the authority for the statistics.  At the end the sponsor (some oil & gas trade association) was shown.

"We" the sheeple are paying attention and are getting the message.

All kidding aside, if "they" wanted you to know who was behind "the message", they would have had a memorable jingle, and then some, to make sure you remember who it was. Double you pleasure, double your fun with ...?

I have no clue what ad you saw. It sounds like a "feeling" ad. They want to instill in you (program into you) some vague feeling that somehwere back there, somebody or other warned you. Confusion and uncertainty. These are classic manipulation techniques. You are being manipulated.

Fine. If they're going to manipulate me into conserving heating oil or natural gas, then I'm not going to complain.
Hey, watching TV is a more efficient form of entertainment than most others I can think of aside from reading a book. For many Americans driving to the mall to go shopping is considered entertainment.
I read the internet!  I also watch DVD's and I read books.  I do not watch TV.  The ads are most likely a bit laughable,  most people have to do what most people can do to save money.  The prices are there and have been for a few months on their Utility bill.  Mine charged me $4.15 for 1 unit of Natural Gas used last month.  It will sink in very fast that you can't just turn up the Heat and then pay for it with your over maxed Credit Card.


Huh?  They don't have a "memorable jingle", so therefore "they" are hiding their identity?  And there's no chance that they simply wanted people to focus on the message that conervation is good?

I didn't see the ads, but I hope they get a lot of air play.  People need to understand that they can save a lot of energy and money with very little change in their behavior and almost no impact to their lifestyle.  Those kinds of changes won't make the looming problem of peak oil go away, but they'll sure help reduce consumption and pollution in the short run, and establish a mindset that's receptive to more stringent measures in the future.

We can deal with peak oil in two ways: Reactively, in response to price increases, or proactively, because we're smart enough to act now in our own best interest and reduce our own future pain.  I believe in the second approach, which is why I participate in TOD and run my own energy education web site.  We know what's going on; we have both a moral obligation and a vested interest in helping to educate the mainstream.

The "world" won't know what hit them.

 When it gets ugly, they will blaim someone, but it won't be us, It will be the Politicians and the Companies that sell them Oil and the stuff made from Oil.

 I hate to be a Doom and Gloomer, but they just won't know what hit them.  

 The rest of the world all they care about is who wins the next season of ( fill in the blank ) reality show.



Did you post this as an excuse to get a DVR (TeVo, etc) and take the tax deduction?

I've had mine for 2 weeks, and I'm not sure how I lived without it.  I use the "pause and rewind live TV" functions more than the "record your favorite shows" although the later is why we got it.

Tax deduction because expenses on TOD count as business expenses? Yeah, right. That would mean divulging my anonymity to the authorities.

I don't even have cable. I doubt I'll ever get TiVo.

Hmm - I'm not sure if this comment was meant seriously but any authority that you might be worried about would almost certainly be able to find out who you are if they wished to.

The tax department probably wouldn't care less and certainly the local one here wouldn't care what the web site was that you were claiming tax deductions against, so long as you were making income from it.

People frequently make the mistake of assuming that they are anonymous on the internet when nothing could be further from the truth (unless you are taking extreme measures to cloak who you are).

The only reason to use a pseudonym is if you'd rather not have employers / friends / co-workers / stalkers etc be able to find out too much about you online...

Not serious, Big Gav. Believe me, I've been around the web enough to see how many people get dooced for their anonymous blogs.

I didn't know there was a word for it.

I do occasionally wonder where the dividing line is so I've always avoided referring to any client I've worked for...

whois, its the devil... unless you try to make money by buying domains when they come up for renewal lol.
Just saw it again on CNN.

The URL is:

And the message is from "America's oil and gas industry," or something along those lines.  If you go to the Web site, you end up re-directed to the American Petroleum Institute.

From the "About Us" Page

API Represents America's Oil and Natural Gas Industry

The oil and natural gas industry provides the fuel for American life, warming our homes, powering our businesses and giving us the mobility to enjoy this great land.  As the primary trade association of that industry, API represents more than 400 members involved in all aspects of the oil and natural gas industry.  Our association draws on the experience and expertise of our members and staff to support a strong and viable oil and natural gas industry.

Our work is member-driven.  We offer companies large and small the opportunity to participate in shaping API programs and policy priorities.

We are a major research institute.  API is committed to using the best available scientific, economic and legal analysis to guide and support our policy positions.

We give our industry a unified voice.  API's expert staff participate actively in key policy-making forums, facilitating production dialogue and effective solutions on issues important to all Americans.

Our organization is tailored to serve our members.  API membership is divided by industry segments that companies have direct input on the issues most important to them.

This looks and feels very similar to those anti-cigarette ads that the tobacco companies put out. I think they are basically trying to elevate the issue to a personal responsibility - "Don't blame us for high prices before you do all these things first to conserve energy" type of campaign.

Yeah, don't blame us you greedy, selfish, little bastards.

If only you had lowered your thermostat and worn that sweater like Jimmy-our-hero Carter told yah to.
If only you had been less selfish about quickly getting your butt to your next event fast by going 55 instead of 65, we wouldn't be in this fix. See?

You are the selfish ones. Not us.
Heck we even dontated all our excess profits to research for alternative energy so that you would be less dependant on us in the future.

We are the good guys.
You are the greedy selfish bastards.
It's all your fault.

Just remember this little tune:

It's my fault.
It's not their fault.
I coulda, I shoulda
Turned my thremo down
I coulda, I shoulda
Driven slower bout the town
It's not their fault.
It's my fault.
Next time I'll do it their way

Inaqui, feeling manipulated yet?
How about this one off todays Energy Bulletin:

(10 November 2005)
Economist James Hamilton has been engaging in online conversations with the Peak Oil community over the last few months.

And a third prediction I'm comfortable offering for you is that while all of this is going on who is the public going to blame? Well the public is going to blame the greedy oil companies, doesn't have anything to do is apply, doesn't have anything to do with demand, doesn't have anything to do with geography or geopolitics or weather. That's something I think we can count on.

I live in an apartment building which includes utilities in the monthly rent. We dont have thermostats, and the heat turned on in early october. It gets so hot in here that sometimes I have to open all the windows and the door to the balcony to let the heat out. I have to wonder, how many other buildings are like that, and how much energy is literally going right out the windows as a result.
My grandmother does that too. It means energy is still way to cheap. Energy probably needs to be 3 times more expensive for people to really start to conserve.
You do realize that if people slowed down, coasted up to stops, drove more-efficient vehicles etc. enough to bring refinery utilization below 100%, the profit margins in refining would go back to nearly zero again?

Instead, people spent the 4 years after 9/11 buying monster trucks.  A lot of them are still speeding.  They did earn this.

I did not.

I always slow down, maybe I was taught good money saving driving habits by someone who lived through the 70's.  But its good on the car to slow down using the natural lay of the road, less thinking on the drivers part.

 Like I said I have not used Natural Gas to heat this year much beyond what I needed, But I have a Space Heater I just move room to room.  I live alone and the cats and dog have fur to protect them.

I replaced conventional electric water heater with 'tankless' water heater (electric). Since it only heats the water you need as you need it. Even though twice as expensive,it takes about 1/3 as much electricity as a conventional water heater therefore the payoff on it is a little less than 2 years. Living in TVA land (my former employer) I am naturally all-electric.
TN Granny,
I wonder where  this figure of only using one third the electricity comes from. The conversion of electricity to heat in water in an immersion heater is almost 100% in both cases. The only difference is the heat that leaks out of the insulation on the tank and pipework from the stored hot water.

1 kWhr of electrical heating gives you 26 litres of water heated from 20°C to 50°C. If you use about 200 litres of hot water per day that is 8 kWhr per day of useful energy. My system with a 300 litre tank with 100mm of polyurethane insulation, well insulated piping and steps to avoid thermosyphoning, has losses I calculate, of not more than 1.2 kWhr per day maintained at 50°C. That is about 87% efficiency at 200 litres per day usage.

Hot water tanks can take advantage of cheaper off peak electricity. Unless you have a nocturnal life style, instant water heaters use most of their electricity at peak rate. In my example you only need to have the average electricity cost for the tank to be 87% of that for the instant heater  for the system to be cheaper. I do not know what the differential cost is in TVA land but here in the UK, my off peak rate is 43% of the peak rate. Half the electricity used off peak will bring the average cost to 71% of peak rate.

Actually in my case I can switch my ground sourced heat pump to heat the water up to 40°C overnight at a coefficient of  performance of about 3.2 giving heating at 13.5% of the cost of peak electricity in an instant heater. Topped up during the day with a solar thermal system when the sun is shining (which is not very often in England in November) you get  hot water at a very low running cost. It is however most assuredly not a cheap system to install.

Even the losses through the insulation are often not complete losses. It is usual practice here to install the hot water tank in the laundry cupboard to air the clothes using the heat losses. In a climate like ours where domestic  air conditioning is not needed and heating is for 4 to 6 months of the year any losses from the hot water system that occur in the house will lower the central heating power requirement during winter.

Perhaps your circumstances are different but I suspect you will find you are paying more for water heating not less.

I'm sorry about the metric units for a largely American audience but perhaps you will learn about them if the Iranian oil bourse sells oil not only in euros but also cubic metres :)

Different rates for peak and off-peak electricity are not that common around here.  I think most Americans pay the same, no matter when they use the power.  

A friend of mine in northeast Ohio does get a cheaper rate at night; she loads the dishwasher after dinner, but doesn't turn it on until just before she goes to bed.  But she's the only one I know who does that, or has incentive to do that.  

Moving residential energy usage to off-peak hours would be a relatively painless way to cut back on natural gas usage.  I don't know why more utilities don't charge differential rates.  

Time of use metering requires installation of a special meter. Replacing meters on a large scale would be a bit of a pain, but certainly is not out of the question.

We have solar panels on our house hooked to a battery bank. Our system is set up to disconnect from the grid during the day and reconnect at night. We run on solar power during the day most days and lean on the batteries during the day on cloudy days. This sort of arrangement works really well with time of use metering - the electricity we do have to buy from the grid runs less than half the regular retail rate.

Solar power makes a great complement to net metering. Furthermore, solar produces the most power on sunny summer days, which also happen to be times of peak power demand.

To really get the most out of this, we'll need more than TOU and net metering.  We need all-out DSM.

If everyone and his brother has the dishwasher on a timer to go at 11:00 PM when the rates drop, what'll happen?  The utility will get a huge demand spike; if rates are set by actual demand instead of a time schedule, they won't drop.  The meter needs to be more than a measuring and logging instrument, it needs to be part of the decision for things to run or not.  If the utility receives bids for 1.27 million dishwashers to run tonight and an aggregate demand of 58.3 million kWh to operate them, it can schedule generation to handle it.  Dishwashers could kick off as power becomes available (request/grant/relinquish) with all the messy details handled behind the scenes.

The same scheme could shut off electric HW heaters and crank A/C back to partial power when demand gets too close to the generation limits or a plant or transmission line goes out.&bnsp; We need never see an 8/14/03 ever again.

Unfortunately, doing this requires standards for meter interfaces, comm protocols and the works.  I'm way out of touch with what's going on in the biz, but the last I heard they were a long way from anything like a standard.

More like 132 standards - no, really, this time it really will be the standard!  Actually, you need to have comm network inside the home as well, with major power using appliancs able to communicate with something (the power meeter?) over the house wiring.  IIRC, one of the comm protocols grew out of this at soem previous point.
I can't see making it that complicated.  Not worth the expense.  Not everyone will have their dishwasher on a timer.  A lot of people can't be bothered with that kind of thing.  And not everyone who does have it on a timer will set it for 11pm.  (I believe my friend's rates go down at 8 or 9pm.)

The biggest benefit might be to move some heavy commercial users to night shifts.  (Which is what China is doing.)  Cheaper rates at night could do that.

Which commercial users will you switch to night shifts?  Offices?  Shopping centers?

Industry already pays time-of-day rates (and also power quality fees, reactive power fees... the list goes on).  The cost of moving people to night shifts are higher than buying daytime electricity, and why shouldn't they be?  Night work gives people a lower quality of life.

There's zero QOL impact from having a dishwasher or dryer start at 3 AM (assuming it's quiet).  There are other ways in which DSM can greatly increase grid reliability with minimal impact on activities.  That's the path of least resistance.

I am sorry I assumed that differential tariffs would be common in America. They have been available in the UK for decades and are  common throughout Europe. It greatly surprises me this simple option is not available everywhere. The surge at switch on does not seem to be a problem. Predictable surges are reasonably easy to deal with and can be ameliorated by a slight stagger in the start time.

Dish washers are a minor part of the domestic load that shifted to off peak. I mentioned water heating  in the earlier post. In addition to that a large fraction of those using electrical central heating here use night storage heaters. At their simplest these are little more than a metal case full of fire bricks with electrical heating elements strung through them. More sophisticated ones have insulation plus fans and opening louvers to control the heat. I see that at least one company is selling them in America.

I believe that in the Netherlands some people have systems using large tanks of phase change material, (basically wax like chemicals with a well defined melting point) that are put in the cellar and the heat extracted when needed by pipes through the tank.

I have not heard of it being done but I see no reason in principal why the idea cannot be reversed with air conditioning run from a night storage cold tank. It would need a material with a melting point of about 10°C and a high latent heat.

Shifting some of the load to off-peak is particularly advantageous if a large fraction of the supply is nuclear and the night time minimum is less than the available nuclear power since the incremental cost of nuclear generated electricity is so low.

The scheme does need some investment but multirate meters are manufactured in their millions and compared to the technical and political difficulties of other ways of cutting down natural gas usage this seems simple.

I wouldn't shift anyone.  I'd leave it up to them.  If the differential is great enough, companies that use the most energy would make the move.  

Of course you'd have to pay people more to take the night shift.  If the cost of energy gets high enough, it will be worth it, for all concerned.  (I've worked nights, and I like it.  I would definitely sign up for the night shift if they paid me a little more.)

Of course it's great to run your dishwasher or dryer at 3am.  But you can do that without all the fancy stuff you want to install.  Lower rates at night are enough to do it.  

Not everyone is going to run their dishwasher the minute the rates go down.  It's not like cell phones, where you have to worry about whether people will be awake to take the call.  Some people will run their dishwashers whenever they want.  Some people will run their dishwashers as soon as the rates go down.  Some will run them just before they go to bed (so they can put the dishes from their bedtime snack in).  Some will run them at 2 or 3 am, because who wants a noisy dishwasher running while you're watching TV nearby in the family room?  If the bedrooms are upstairs, no one will hear the dishwasher downstairs.

It's the same with dryers.  Most people will not run them as soon as the rates go down, because they're noisy and you have to fold the clothes as soon as the dryer stops, or they wrinkle.  They'll set them to run shortly before they wake up, so they can take the clothes out.  People wake up at different times, so that's not a problem.  

Funny you should mention dryers.  Often, my sister loads her dryer, then goes to sleep.  But her dryer has an anti-wrinkle feature that spins and heats the clothing again every so often.  In her guest room, I could hear this dryer going on and off all night long.  I warned her about how much electricity that was wasting, but I doubt I made an impression.
All night long???

That's insane.  

Higher prices will take care of that kind of energy use.  :-P

I found a document, Life-Cycle costs for Different Types of Water Heaters on the website of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

It shows Demand Gas as 70 - 84% efficient, Demand Electric WHs as 100% efficient and Heat pump Electric WHs as 220% efficient. Demand WHs don't usually deliver much water flow, though, and should be close to the spigot.

I find it humorous that the very medium that fosters, enables, promotes and indeed relies on constantly-increasing ever-expanding consumption, is now used to try and hold that consumption back.

I don't have a TV but I can imagine the conservation commercial wedged in between a new SUV/car commercial and a trip-to-Jamaica commercial, with jumbo jets winging it across the skies.

No wonder we are a neurotic nation with these mixed messages!

You gotta admire the web-site:

"The oil and natural gas industry is committed to improving air quality"

Talking about a contradicti in terminis......

I saw a full-page ad in USA today on Tuesday November 8th, 2005 from "America's Oil & Natural Gas Industry"..  It gave its website as

Since I still have the newspaper in the trashbin...

It says:

More than 60 million U.S. homes are heated with natural gas, and demand for this clean-burning fuel continues to grow rapidly.
Natural gas is needed to make products we use daily, including clothing, medicines, computers and plastics.  It is used to generate electricity, to make fertilizer and to process our food.  Natural gas is used to make light-weight but strong parts that help make cars and planes more fuel efficient.  It's an essential energy source for manufacturing iron and steel, making paper products and fueling numerous other industries, big and small.
America's oil and natural gas industry is working around the clock to repair damage from recent hurricanes and to get all natural gas supplies flowing to ensure there is a reliable supply this winter.
You can help, too.  Turn down thermostats, seal windows and doors, clean furnace filters and turn down the temperature on your hot water heater.  Choose more efficient models when you replace older furnaces and hot water heaters.  For more tips, visit
In addition to using energy wisely.  America needs to increase access to domestic natural gas suppliesto meet future needs.  
Demand for natural gas has been strong and growing.  But, domestic supply has not been keeping pace.
America has enough recoverable natural gas still underground to heat 125 million homes for 120 years.*  However, much of it is out of reach, particulary on non-park lands in the West and under the waters off our coasts where access has been prohibited or severely restricted by the government.  Advanced technology allows clean, safe development of our energy resources.  Working together, government, industry and consumers can meet our energy challenges.

*U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Department of Energy & Ntional Petroleum Council

Oh Joy!! They just covered Thier Asses as if it's NOT Thier Fault You are running out of Energy.  Just check the Politician of your Choice HE/SHE did it.
Aha.  In addition to CYA for the high energy costs, they're trying to build support for drilling in the areas they are currently restricted from.
It's amazing how oil continues to drop in price. In October of last year oil, hit above $55, while today it was $57.50. So we're almost at the same price we were at, over a year ago.

A while back someone posted a site where you could look at a graph of how popular various search terms and phrases were over time, in blogs or in search engines. I'd be curious to see how "Peak Oil" is trending, to see if it goes along with oil and gas prices.

The site you are thinking of is blogpulse - this is the graph for peak oil : abel3=&days=180&x=50&y=15

(I'd embed the image except its dynamically generated and doesn't work for long...)

Khebab posted this image over at

The trend is the same as last year - upward - but volatility is increasing.  (Which is what the models predict will happen as a resource grows scarcer.)  He thinks the price could drop further, before resuming the upward trend.

TWO big Macs and a SUPERSIZED DIET coke...

What manipulation?  **Marry the wrong person**

GoT mIlK ?   Huuummn... ---> A dairy product!?

Natural gas.
Say it out loud.
Natural... gas ...
Your key to  pandoras box.

Get back to nature
fall in love with yourself all over again.
Start a nudist colony today...

"Sarcasam is angers ugly cousin"
                -Jack Nicholson-

from the Adam Sandler movie ANGER MANAGEMENT

Little Red Riding Hood ,
"My Grandma what big GAS appliances you have?"

Think small, think fast, peace

I have not seen any of these energy conservation ads, but if indeed they were sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute or some other organization affiliated with Big Oil, then that fact tells me that this is nothing more than an example of classic 'positive image' advertising.  And the positive message that Big Oil is trying to convey is that they are part of the solution rather than part of the problem. 'Hey,don't blame us - we feel your pain, and we're trying to help'.

Do you REALLY think that Exxon/Mobil wants you to cut back on gasoline consumption?  That is about as believable as GM coming out with an ad saying that you should hang on to your old car instead of buying a new one. Or Anheuser Busch suggesting that you try French wine instead of beer.

Give me a break!

Tomorrow, I am supposed to (finally) talk to my office about the Bartlett Energy conference, but I'm going to borrow from Simmon's and Dea's slideshows from ASPO Denver instead.  Dea's presentation on NG depletion was indeed sobering.

Our pellet stove vendor tells us that he hasn't been able to get any new stock for the last month. We had urged my bro-in-law to get a pellet insert for their fireplace, but he installed a new NG furnace instead.

Use Energy Wisely TV Ads,

Saving 1% on your fuel bill by lowering your thermostat 1 degree, wow, on a $400 a month bill, that adds up to a whopping $4.00, just enough to go and buy one gallon of gas for the family vehicle, but don't take the kids to a movie or a park, church, ballgame, and oh no!, not th doctor(God health care, thats another topic) because, you now have just enough gas to get to work for the day. They're telling us how to live, when our life style is being brought down becaue of there greed. Feeling a bit guilty, to late, you are destroying the economy, what we used to spend on family time and personal expense is now being spent on heating oil and gasoline, what a shame, in a few years between health care and energy prices, there will be no extra cash to put into the economy, production will go down, prices will go up and business will fail, creating giant job loses, we all need to start a national boycott of all oil companies, do pay our heating bills an a national level, just one month would help, they need us, we don't need them, thank God starting a fire in your own backyard is free to keep warm. Terrorism has a new face and it's called "THE OIL INDUSTRY", along with HEALTH CARE & INSURANCE INDUSTRY, we do not need to worry about terrorists , these industries are destroying america for there own gain, and we need to fight back.

Donal, if you are thinking of a new hot water tank, look at the tankless hot water heaters.  They have no tank but heat water only "on demand." That is, only when someone opens the hot water valve.  This way, you are not heating water water water 24/7 but only when needed.  They often cut hot water bills by 70%, depending on usage.

They cost aprox $250 for a small unit and about $700 for a whole house unit, not including installation.  Their is currently a $300 rebate for them in the new 2005 Energy Act so that helps pay for it.

I do not know how well they work in conjunction with a solar heater but they should work fine. Check with manufacturer to be safe.