Like diets that make us fat, efficiency is bad for the environment.
The last 30 years in America have seen great improvements in the energy efficiency of electric motors, appliances, and other end-use equipment. Think of compact fluorescents, ground-source heat pumps, and thermal window glazing. Add variable speed drives, chilled water AC, and high-pressure sodium street lighting. You name it, we've got it.
But energy efficiency is no saving grace. Like a dieter who keeps gaining weight, our consumption of electricity continues to climb despite our efficiency gains, leaving our environment worse as a result.
Is There Any Way Out?
Since 1969, we have created and promoted electric efficiency through the Department of Energy, various state energy offices, and the Environmental Protection Agency. We have enacted various energy efficiency tax credits, the Model Energy Code, ASHRAE Standard 90, appliance labeling, EPA's Green Lights and EnergyStar programs, a shared savings industry, and Energy Rated Homes.