We could all get by with a lot less energy. According to a report out today by the Alliance to Save Energy, the Washington-based United Nations Foundation and Dow Chemical, the G8 countries such as Canada, France, Russia and the U.S. could double their current rate of efficiency improvement to 2.5% per year with investments that would pay for themselves over 3-5 years. That would eliminate the need for four-fifths of the new coal-fired power plants that the International Energy Agency estimates will be built between now and 2030.
Today on TechReview.com I profile a simple device to motivate energy efficiency that’s likely to become as common as the thermostat. It’s a glorified glow-lamp called the Joule with the potential stop blackouts and slash energy costs.
In future Carbon-Nation will bring you more energy efficiency opportunities. We’ll also try to massage energy efficiency’s achilles heel: a vicious feedback loop known by economists as the rebound effect whereby high energy prices stimulate energy efficiency improvements so effectively that they reduce demand, undercut energy prices, and stimulate new consumption that offsets the original efficiency gains. The rebound effect is just one of several reasons why potential efficiency gains such as those identified in today’s report fail to translate into longterm reductions in overall energy demand.
Is there a gadget out there to keep us from rebounding?