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The Effects of a Drastic Reduction in Energy on the American Lifestyle

We investigate the effects on the American lifestyle of a drastic reduction in remote site energy supply in two areas: operating residences and operating automobiles, which together consume more than one third of all the energy used in the United States. Specifically, we look at the effects of a 10-to-20 fold (more than 1000 per cent) reduction in energy coming from the electrical grid, natural gas, oil, and gasoline.  We compare and contrast the costs (without any subsidies)  and lifestyles of two families that live in average houses in American locations that get an average amount of sunlight: Family I lives in a conventional house that uses conventional energy and drives conventional automobiles, whereas Family II lives in a net-zero-energy house-and-electric-car combination powered by a large solar PV array. The data suggest that Family II lives a more comfortable and secure lifestyle than Family I, and experiences savings of thousands of dollars per year without any significant upfront cost. We also briefly discuss the cost differences in those parts of the contiguous United States that receive lesser or greater amounts of sunlight than the average. While we do not address the energy used in commercial, industrial, or agricultural operations, many of the same techniques used in the house and car design can be applied to these energy sectors. Future studies could include off-grid residences that are self sufficient in energy and water and have no pipe, wire, or cable connections to the outside world.


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