Can Energy Efficiency Save the Economy?

Losing money causes anyone to question their place in their own life, their status and their family role, their own identity. It’s not a good thing. And when an entire nation loses money these same doubts arise. Who are we as a people? Are we one people anymore? What is our place among the global nations? Is our status as global leader and source of financial stability secure? These questions come at a time of great strain in the American project.

Dwindling resources cause anyone to circle the wagons and protect their own. So is it surprising that we are now divided into so many fragmented groups? Tax vs. no tax, haves vs. have nots, unions vs. management and hostile state governments, energy users and energy producers. How can we find our way through this divisive time and retain our nationhood - our identity as a freedom-loving and a caring society?

The answer could be found in energy efficiency. Making an end run around shortage and limitations, energy efficiency finds value where there was none. The low-hanging fruit of energy crisis opportunities, energy efficiency allows the homeowner to save on his power bill, the plant manager to gain productivity increases without increased costs. Energy efficiency can relieve the pressure on state governments to maintain their physical plant. Energy efficiency creates more to go around where there was less.

The transition to an energy efficient economy won't come overnight. Individuals can buy more ENERGY STAR qualified products, insulate their homes, consider solar power installations. Businesses can ensure that their commercial vehicles run at the highest possible fuel economy. School districts can encourage children to turn off all unnecessary lights and inspire their students to bring the lesson home.

Energy efficiency isn't the only answer to solving the crisis of economies operating on the basis of debt and insufficient revenue to cover their expenses. But it can contribute a great deal towards lowering costs nationally. A recent survey by the Consumer Electronics Association shows consumer receptivity towards energy efficiency. 92% of the 1,254 adults surveyed turned off the lights when they left a room; 64% choose energy-efficient electronics when shopping. 63% shut down their computer when it was not in use. And most important, 85% considered the energy consumption of a product an important purchasing decision factor.

The largest opportunity for energy consumption reduction, the most inexpensive resource, the easiest resource to implement, energy efficiency is a renewable energy source - its potential never runs out. And the remarkable thing is that it starts with "little" changes - duct sealing, turning off unneeded appliances, the use of programmable thermostats - all these small steps taken at the residential level can add up to a meaningful reduction in America's energy consumption, freeing resources for better, nation-building and enriching purposes. Perhaps a meaningful energy efficiency movement can reduce the fear of dwindling resources and temper the extreme political voices dominating the national debate.


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I am a Seattle-based writer. Energy efficiency and the achievement of human potential are my goals. I have worked as a legislative aide and a database manager, and recently started building a money- and energy-saving household goods online store featuring sensible and affordable home environment solutions including ENERGY STAR qualified products. Contact: Twitter: @Greenbespoke @SaveWattsatHome