JAMAICANS are being encouraged to pay keen attention to energy efficiency when purchasing home appliances and other devices that utilise electricity.
The appeal was made yesterday by officials of the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), which is spearheading a national project that seeks to promote the benefits of energy efficiency and conservation. The project also seeks to encourage Jamaicans to make greater use of renewable energy such as solar, particularly in small and medium enterprises.
In addition to funding from the DBJ, the US$807-million DBJ GreenBiz Energy Efficiency Project receives assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank.
According to DBJ officials, who were guests at the Jamaica Observer weekly Monday Exchange, a number of Jamaican consumers can be described as being penny wise and pound foolish when purchasing appliances such as television sets, air-conditioning units, light bulbs, and refrigerators.
Christopher Brown, energy project co-ordinator at the DBJ, cautioned Jamaicans to pay attention to what he cited as the life cycle cost of a product versus the up-front cost. "Although you spend X amount for a TV now, the cost of electricity for the TV should also be factored in. I know that in Jamaica we are driven by purchasing power, and so one TV might cost one and a half times another, and because of that high capital cost people don't invest in it. However, at the end of the day, the person who bought the cheaper TV would have paid a lot more, over time," Brown explained.
His point was endorsed by president of the Jamaica Society of Energy Engineers, Owen Gunning, who pointed to a major difference between the amount of energy consumed by an old refrigerator, as opposed to a newer one. "An old fridge for example would give you about 600 watts, a newer fridge would probably take you down to 250 watts," said Gunning as he encouraged consumers to look for the energy star on appliances.
He added that the same principle applies to air-conditioning units, some of which continue to be dumped on Jamaica, despite their high levels of inefficiency. "You have what is referred to as an Energy Efficiency Rating and you have people dumping on us AC units that have energy efficiency ratio of 7.5, but you can get energy efficiency ratio of up to 18," said Gunning, a University of Technology lecturer who explained that the higher the ratio, the less it will cost to operate the unit.
He also chided persons who continue to use electric water heaters and argued that they would save significantly on their electricity bills if they were to invest in solar water heaters.
Gunning also pointed to significant differences in the amount of energy consumed by older type television sets as opposed to LCD and LED televisions.
Meanwhile, the DBJ energy project coordinator explained that a marketing campaign has been launched to support the project. The campaign will appeal to all Jamaicans, but will target operators of small and medium enterprises and will also target school administrators, many of whom have been grappling with massive electricity bills.
Brown indicated that as part of efforts to promote the energy efficiency project a fair will be held on October 12 at Emancipation Park in St Andrew.