Energy efficiency: It's not your mother's “energy conservation”

provided by Alliance to Save Energy

oes energy conservation bring to mind graphic memories of the OPEC oil embargo, energy shortages, gas lines in the 1970s, President Jimmy Carter sitting in a cardigan asking Americans to turn down their thermostats, and other images of sacrifice, deprivation, and discomfort? Welcome instead to today's world of energy efficiency mixed with basic energy consciousness.

    Energy efficiency, notes the Alliance to Save Energy, is a far cry from the energy conservation images and practices of old of doing with less or doing without, of being uncomfortable or less comfortable. Not unlike the tremendous technological strides on the computer, electronics, and other fronts, energy efficiency takes advantage of advances in technology to provide significantly better, smarter services with less energy.

    As energy prices skyrocket and electricity reliability issues take center stage, the Alliance urges consumers and businesses to take charge of their energy costs and energy futures by employing energy-efficiency technologies and products so that the nation gets the most productivity from every unit of energy.

    “We're not saying forget the conservation voice of your mother/grandmother 'What do you think we own shares in the power company!?'” says the Alliance. “It's smart, basic energy consciousness (conservation) to use natural resources wisely and to turn off anything that you're not using that uses energy lights, TV/VCR, heating, air conditioning, appliances, computer. And, it's even smarter to use compact fluorescent lights, programmable thermostats, and ENERGY STAR-labeled TVs, VCRs, appliances, air conditioners, and computers to help you reduce energy use and energy bills.”

    Recent Bush Administration statements have pointed to the Department of Energy's Annual Energy Outlook prediction that we will need to build 1,300 or more power plants between now and 2020. However, another DOE-supported analysis, entitled “Scenarios for a Clean Energy Future,” shows that the need for up to 600 power plants can be met through increased energy efficiency.

    Alliance staff analysis confirms the reasonableness of the report's estimates. Highlights of the savings potential (expressed in terms of 300-Megawatt power plants by 2020) revealed in Alliance estimates include: 220 power plants from DOE standards for air conditioners, clothes washers, water heaters, and commercial air conditioning; 230 from retrofit programs for residential air conditioning, commercial lighting, and commercial HVAC; 100 from modest improvements in residential and commercial new buildings; and 30 from residential lighting compact fluorescent retrofits.

    These four measures alone produce 580 power plants' worth of electricity savings. Hence the Alliance views the “Clean Energy Future” report as eminently achievable.

    Using energy wisely provides us with desired energy services - comfortable homes, profitable businesses, convenient transportation - with less energy use, less air pollution, less greenhouse gas emissions, and lower total cost, notes the Alliance

    With energy policy moving to the front burner on Capitol Hill, the White House, and various state governments, the Alliance points out that energy efficiency incentives could help significantly extend the nation's energy supply on the oil, natural gas, and electricity fronts. At the same time, energy efficiency would also provide numerous other benefits - saves consumers and businesses money, increases comfort, protects the environment, enhances the economy, and promotes national security.

    The Alliance offers a variety of resources on its popular web site on hot energy issues: electricity reliability at:; energy prices at:; and home energy-efficiency and conservation tips in a free booklet, Power$mart: Easy Tips to Save Money and the Planet at: for an animated version or for ordering a print version.

    The Alliance to Save Energy is a coalition of prominent business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, economy, and national security. The Alliance to Save Energy, 1200 18th Street, NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 857-0666;;