A man who asks that his name be withheld writes: "I hope you can solve an energy problem that really gets my goat. It concerns electric typewriters.
"Many of the women in our office leave their typewriters running even when they are not in use for an hour or two. I keep turning them off. When I tell them about it, they say the surge of energy needed to restart the machine is more than the energy used in lefting it run idle for a couple of hours. Can you research this and tell me if they are correct?"
Yes, I suppose I could make a lof of phone calls and get, an authentic answer, but I'm just not in the mood to chase wild geese at the moment. It seems to me that the story they are handing you is absurd on the face ot it.
In previous columns, I quoted experts as saying that it does take some extra energy to turn on an electric light. Their estimate was that if the light will not be needed for three or four minutes, you save energy by turning it off. (Note: Fluorescents require more current for starting, but use less in operation, so you can let them burn for longer periods when they're not needed).
Similarly, I checked out the question of how much extra gasoline it takes to restart an automobile engine. In that case, as I recall, the experts said we should let it idle if the delay will be a few minutes, shut it off and restart it if the delay will be five minutes or more.
So common sense indicates that it is wasteful to let an electric typewriter run needlessly for a period of hours. In addition to letting energy go down the drain, we hasten the day when the machine will need repair or replacement.
So I, too, turn off typewriters that are not in use. When I come into the office on Saturday evenings to write my Monday column, I turn off a dozen machines that have been running since their Monday-through-Friday operators went home 24 hours before.
I suspect that if we'd simply eliminate wanton waste we'd have more than enough energy for our needs.
But somewhere along the line, this nation seems to have gotten the impression that the war on waste is over. They think the energy crisis is phony and there's no need to conserve.
And that's part of the reason that we really do face an energy crisis.