Called to energy stewardship

As someone who believes addressing energy issues can contribute to peace and justice, I have found gratification working in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning trade. In public discussions, much attention is paid to how energy is generated. But there are fantastic opportunities in the “fifth fuel”: energy that isn’t consumed.

HVAC systems are a major consumer of energy. When they aren’t working right, energy gets wasted on a massive scale. When insulation deteriorates, precious energy dissipates. When valves and dampers stick, strainers and filters get clogged and heat-transfer surfaces get dirty, mechanical systems have to work harder to overcome these problems. But unless someone gets too hot or cold, it goes unnoticed.

There are a lot of fantastic things being done with efficient building designs, but many advantages are lost when the systems aren’t maintained. Modern building automation systems make it possible to monitor these things, if you know what to look for. But I worry that the people who know don’t care, and the people who care don’t know.

If your call to energy stewardship is an avocation, learning more about preventing energy waste might bring new ideas to your volunteer efforts and sharpen your public policy advocacy. If you are open to a career in HVAC, good people are desperately needed. It pays well, and the training is often very affordable.

Jacob Janzen, Arlington, Va.

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