Reducing the impact of our use of energy is one of the key technical, political, and even moral challenges facing human society in this century. While our sources of energy have to be made cleaner, our first priority must be to use energy more efficiently. The good news is that efficiency measures are cheaper, cleaner and faster to install than any other energy option. And we lose nothing in the bargain – the point of efficiency is to allow us the same levels of productivity or comfort, but with less power.
Efficiency is not only cheaper than all other options, it also leads to growth in jobs and personal income. By reducing energy bills, it frees up money that can be spent elsewhere. It also creates growth in green-collar jobs such as building-weatherization specialists and energy auditors.
Up to 75% of the electricity used in the US today could be saved with efficiency measures. Developing countries, which will account for 80% of global energy demand growth to 2020, could cut their demand by more than half using existing technologies to improve energy efficiency, according to McKinsey Global Institute. “This would leave energy consumption some 22% lower than it would otherwise have been – an abatement equivalent to the entire energy consumption of China today,” the institute states.