My laptop is Lenovo y700 with 4 gb of Nvidia GTX 960m (not the best but it does the job) and 8 GB RAM. Anyways, I am working on a podcast that ranges from 20-30 mins in length. When we upload it to youtube, we need to add visual effects as well (else, obviously it will become dull). The effects are simple and it is mostly an audio spectrum that responds to the voice and perhaps a neon light flickering. Anyways, as expected 30 mins is a lot for After Effects to render and it takes around 2 hours to render that. I also tried directly loading the after effects save file into premiere but in the end it took around the same amount of time to render. Is there an alternative to bypass such a long render time for such a minor effect?
There is no way to "bypass" long render times. After-Effects needs to calculate where every pixel has to be and then pack all this information into a container such as .mov or .mp4. However, you can speed up render time by enabling hardware-acceleration in the settings of After-Effects. You can also increase the amount of RAM allocated to After-Effects. Lastly, make sure you render the file in a reasonable resolution (1920x1080 is good enough for most cases) with a reasonable framerate (for a podcast you can probably get away with 24 frames per second, depending on how responsive the audio-spectrum is probably even 20.)
That said, on your hardware, 2 hours of rendering for an effect like that over 30 minutes is not unreasonable and perfectly normal. Try out the optimization I suggested above and see if you can speed up the process a bit.
First, it doesn't sound like what you're doing in AE is actually making your podcast more interesting. It sounds like it's trivial to implement, but having multiple cameras (phones, laptops) for multiple people -- you said "we" -- and editing stuff out to keep the pacing going would be more effective overall. Sounds like you're providing a distraction rather than making your material interesting.
Second, if you want to go the one-effect route, you could possibly bring just the audio into AE and render the audio spectrum in a small size. For example, if your video is 1920x1080 and you really only put the spectrum in a 600x400 box on the right side, you could just render the effect into a 600x400 composition, then bring that into Premiere and overlay it on the video at appropriate times. (Or if you put the effect in a strip along the bottom of the image, use a 1920x300 composition or something like that.)
You don't need to move all of the other pixels onscreen through After Effects. If you make your spectrum light colors on a black background, you can then use a composite mode to place it over your video. Or a lumakey to drop the black. Premiere should be able to do this. (Haven't used Premiere in a long time, either.)
But ultimately, it's better to make the video more interesting. If you have two people, have both onscreen sometimes, cut between them other times. Cut out stupid or boring parts -- double-win for your viewers. Even a few sound effects that are appropriate to what's going on can spice it up.