The Department of Energy could be more efficient

US Department of Energy Building The U.S. Department of Energy isn’t necessarily practicing what it preaches when it comes to energy conservation, according to a New York Times Green Blog post by Matthew Wald.

Even as the Energy Department preaches energy conservation and efficiency, it is failing to take advantage of readily available, low-cost opportunities to reduce its energy consumption, the department’s inspector general said in a report released on Tuesday.

At the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, for example, a 2009 audit found that the site could save $53,000 a year by taking a single low-tech step that would cost $7,000: installing variable speed drives on air-moving equipment. That would have allowed air to be delivered or removed at the appropriate volumes rather than having systems start up and shut down over and over, which consumes far more energy. Installing fans to move air around in buildings and even out the temperature would save $15,000 a year and cost just $1,400.

Even with these relatively cheap and effective energy solutions, the Department of Energy seems to be distracted from following through on its energy-saving:

Energy Department managers told the auditors it was often difficult to balance their chief mission goals with energy conservation measures, the report said.

At the moment, managers at Y-12 are trying to fix security problems that allowed three pacifists led by an 82-year-old nun to creep up to what was supposed to be a heavily defended building where nuclear bomb fuel is stored.

The Department of Energy agrees with the audits that say it could be doing more to conserve energy and increase efficiency, it just needs to take the initiative to put some solutions into place.

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