Conserving energy

One may remember what a famous television presenter, FazleLohani, used to advice his audience in the seventies and eighties at the end of a programme. He would end his programmes telling the viewers that they could help conserve a scarce natural resource, gas, and they could do it by just ensuring that every time a gas burner was turned on in their homes, to turn it off immediately after cooking a meal or the like. But these advocacies proved unable to make any impact. Bangladeshis are also noted to be rather uncaring in not heeding suggestions of what things are good for them till the same are urged governmentally and with a heavy hand.
Thus, in millions of homes across the country and in the capital city sights are too common in middle and upper class families where domestic aids or even housewives are seen keeping their gas burners flaming long past the cooking time or after all needs for keeping the burners switched on have ended.
This habit is more pronounced in shanty dwellings with gas connections. There the system is several gas burners serving a number of families on a sort of community sharing basis. The gas burners are not put out there and keep on burning gas throughout the day and the night. None in the shanties would think of lighting an extra match stick to rekindle a burner after it has been put out. They think of saving the cost of a matchstick when, ironically, they think nothing of many millions of Taka worth of a natural resource– which is too precious for the national economy– they are helping to waste on a daily basis from their most uncaring mentality .
The authorities could seek to prevent the misuse by implementing prepaid meter system for gas use, everywhere, and making it mandatory to use such a gas burner which is turned on only when there is something on it and turned off when it is removed from the burner. This burner was invented by a college student and displayed in a science fair about 10 years ago. Unfortunately, no government has tried to popularize the use of such burners.
The misuse and inefficient use of gas has a wider dimension. Industries or industrial processes are the biggest consumers of gas. But they would be found to be inefficient or wasteful in their consumption. In Bangladesh, some 5,700 industries consume nearly 1020 mcf of gas per day. Out of the consumption, 95 per cent are fed by their boilers. A government survey during the last caretaker government found that gas-fed boilers in different industries under Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Ltd. franchise areas consume 20 to 30 per cent extra gas due to their inefficiency and wrong operation.
The study said that the thermal efficiency of gas-run boilers in different industrial units was 62-72 per cent, which could be raised to 80-85 per cent through upgrading. Most of the industrial boilers have inadequate insulation, unadjusted air-fuel ratio, damaged insulation in steam lines and different other faults which have reduced their efficiency to 62 to 72 per cent. If even one per cent efficiency of the industrial boilers can be raised, 95 million cubic feet (mcf) of gas will be saved per month which would contribute very substantially in reducing the current deficit in the availability of gas in relation to demand.
Like the gas, power is similarly misused. In hundreds of thousands of homes in Dhaka city, the residents of such homes are found most insensitive about turning off electrical switches after power needs have been met. High power lights, fans and electrical appliances remain switched on notwithstanding that some of these can be kept switched off when users leave homes for outside activities or there are no needs to keep them in such turned on positions. In many cases, these customers of power do not care about the consumption costs because they have underhand deals with meter readers or others so that they receive bills stating limited consumption despite their actually consuming a much higher amount than what are stated in the bills.
Not only private individuals, government itself can be grossly irresponsible for such misuse. In different parts of Dhaka, street lights remain turned on at high noon. This awful spectacle was focused in cable television that showed how the electrical lights were fully turned on in the area in and around the JatiyaSangshad in the day time.
Air conditioners use up greater than normal amounts of power. Even government officials at mid levels who have managed to get air conditioners in their offices, they are seen keeping these turned on all through the time of their stay in the offices although there are dual systems of both fans and air conditioners in the offices.
Charity should begin at home. If austerity should be practiced, government should lead the way and government officials should be at the forefront in demonstrating such austere practices. But self sacrifice is the least in the instincts of such officials whose every minute in the office must be spent luxuriously and the nation has to pay through the nose for such profligacy.
Only from encouraging conservation habits in the consumption of gas and power and getting results from taking of conservation measures at households and institutions, the current deficits in gas and power supply can be substantially reduced. This is the view of experts. There will have to be stepped up unceasing publicities in the mass media to positively sensitize people in all walks of life about these conservation habits they should inculcate.
There is also knowledge with us that from extensive use of electrical devices that help to conserve power such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), intelligence motor controller (IMC), power system capacitors, better load management, etc., it should be possible to effectively conserve some 1,200 MW of power every day.
It is imperative to go all out to popularize these devices among their potential users. First, the government offices and premises of government run industries and services should be targeted for immediate switching over to such conservation devices. This example will enthuse the private sector to follow suit. Government by applying proper fiscal measures leading to fall in the prices of these gadgets, can create incentives for the private sector to acquire and use them on a large scale.