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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Al Gore's personal energy use

Posted by: Hammer / 7:45 AM

Commenting on this post, JdV sends this link:

Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).

In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.

The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

This attack follows a similar attack against Gore from August.

I don't know anything about Gore's personal lifestyle. Apparently, he has a very large, older house in Tennessee. Back in August, Gore stated that he was in the process of adding solar power. That process appears to be completed. (Yes, Gore claims to use CFLs).

Al Gore has devoted his life -- his time and energy and essence -- to fighting global climate change. For that reason, there's nothing he can do to satisfy his critics. Al Gore is a convenient target. Gore is being attacked because it muddies the issue. When the facts are against you, obscure the facts with personal attacks.


According to the New Yorker, Gore's Nashville home is on Lynwood Boulevard in Belle Meade. This nice home on Lynwood in Belle Meade appears to be the only one with solar panels attached.

Update (from Jambo this time)

Surprise, it mostly turns out to be a misleading smear:

I have no idea whether the number cited for Gore's house is correct, but let's assume it is. The 10,656 number comes from data published by the Department of Energy. But it's an average of all households nationwide (including apartment units and mobile homes) and across all climate regions. As it turns out, the region in which Gore lives--the East South Central--has the highest per household energy usage of any climate region in the country, a good 50% higher than the national average quoted in the press release (I assume this is due to the combination of cold winters and hot, muggy summers). So that's misleading in and of itself.

Moreover, Gore lives in a large home (10,000 sq. ft.). If you look at the data, it's clear that Gore's energy usage per square foot (even assuming the 221,000 kWh number is accurate) is well within the average range for his climate region. So all this accusation boils down to is a claim that it is somehow "hypocritical" for Al Gore to live in a large house.

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I'm with you, up to a point. I linked that article mainly as an amusing diversion, and it's probably not entirely fair.

But seriously -- 220,000 kWh in a year? What's he got, a basement full of grow-lamps?

By Blogger Joey de Vivre, at 10:08 AM  

My best guess is that he is somehow milling aluminum.

I have no explanation for that amount of electricity usage, particularly where the natural gas usage is also high.

By Blogger Hammer, at 10:31 AM  

That article came from a right-wing foundation that offered up no substantiation for their figures. I'm not saying they wrong, just they have yet to prove where they got their information. Drudge of course is screaming this to the mountain-top. There has also been some confusion on whether or not this electrical usage is from Al & Tipper's home, or the Gore farm. A working farm could gobble up that amount of power in no time at all. But of course, the people that are promoting this meme aren't going to go into that level of nuance.

By Blogger Jerjo/Carjo, at 1:00 PM  

I dunno, I just think that a group who has this mission statement might have a few axes to grind with a former member of the Clinton administration: The Tennessee Center for Policy Research is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan research organization committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee through free market policy solutions.

By Blogger Jerjo/Carjo, at 1:02 PM  

Those DOE numbers linked by Anonymous Liberal were interesting. I'm not sure I'm reading them correctly.

Apparently in 2001, houses of over 4,000 square feet used 29,400 BTU per sqare foot. Taking the regional 1.5 factor and a 10,000 sq ft house, Google Calculator tells me that comes to 129,244.342 kilowatt hours. That's still far under the 221,000, and that doesn't even account for the natural gas.

I'm probably missing something here.

By Blogger Joey de Vivre, at 2:21 PM  

Even if Al Gore is using all that electricity to rape babies, it doesn't have any effect on the science of climate change. I hope (in fact, I believe) that Gore is very sincere on this issue and tries his best to be carbon neutral while living a high-profile life. Perhaps one could learn that it's possible to be carbon-neutral without having to forgo a modern lifestyle.

Also, Al Gore does not use electricity to rape babies. According to Drudge, it's natural gas.

By Blogger Hammer, at 7:31 PM  

Carbon Neutral...yeah right! What the hell is that supposed to mean anyway? Al Gore’s response to his own “inconvenient truth” is outrageous. Simply because the man has bought into green energy as an “offset” does nothing for his case. It’s as if he is telling us that he can continue to run up his credit card bill because he is continually making deposits into his savings account. I say WAKE UP! Just because you’ve “offset” your energy consumption does not replace the fact that you are still using the energy from fossil fuels. And in the case of fossil fuels that are not replaceable it’s a credit card bill can NEVER be repaid. But don’t worry…just look at my savings account balance. Please. If Mr. Gore does not want to be considered a hypocrite he needs to live by his own advice. Sure he uses (one of) his homes as an office as well. I don’t know about anyone else, but I bet if you took the energy most of us use at the office during a year and added that to our home electric bills it still wouldn’t come close to the 20x average that Al and Tipper are running up!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:53 AM  

I'll leave aside the fact that most critics on the right are not in any way interested in Gore not being a hypocrite, their only goal is to discredit him personally to somehow make people less likely to believe that global warming is a problem.

So what exactly do you think Gore is asking others to do that he is not doing himself? He is doing pretty much what he asks everyone else to do. He has installed solar panels on his house. He apparently buys as much of the rest of his energy as he can thru "green" power sources, meaning sources that are NOT derived from fossil fuels. He then tries to offset the carbon effects of the rest of his power consumption by paying money to someone else to take actions he is not in a position to take himself. That might take the form of a company planting trees or other carbon sinks (yes, I am aware of the global warming trade offs of trees' effects on absorption of carbon vs retention of heat) or funding green energy production somewhere else. Here's a hypothetical example of the latter: I live in Minnesota, a state that is not ideal for solar power generation just by virtue of climate and latitude. If where I live is not an area where I can buy green power I could figure out how much carbon my energy use creates and fund a project in, say, Arizona, to install solar panels there to produce the same amount of energy I am using here. Yes, I still use just as much fossil fuels as I did before but I pay for it by reducing someone else's fossil fuel consumption by the same amount. This is the sort of market based environmentalism that conservatives should be all over, the fact that they instead just smear proponents of it is an indication that they have no real interest in solving the real problem.

I have no way of knowing if the figures for Gore's consumption are accurate and if they are what he is using all that power for. I assume it is not because he is trying to air condition his back yard in the summer and run a giant hairdryers to melt snow on his driveway in the winter. Gore is not saying we have to go back to some pre-industrial standard of living or that everyone should be living studio apartments but I think that is part of what the hard core right wants people to think environmentalism is about. It makes it easier for them to try to turn people against it. All people like Gore are asking is that we take some reasonable, and generally not all that expensive, steps to change the impact of the way we live. Is that really that hard to understand?

A friend, playing devil's advocate, asked me yesterday if we would be better or worse off if everyone consumed the same amount of energy as Gore does. Of course we would be worse off if all our consumption was at that level. Hell, the world would be screwed if everyone in China consumed at the rate my family of four does in our modest, non-air conditioned house. But I think the alternative question might be, would we be better or worse off if all of us met our current power needs in the same fashion that Gore does. I think the answer is undeniably yes.

By Blogger Jambo, at 12:32 PM  

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