Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Energy Conservation

America is facing a crisis when it comes to electricity. But also a tremendous opportunity.

The forces that put us here look grim. Energy prices are high, supplies are increasingly tight, and anxiety is growing about climate change. But that dark outlook is driving consumers, utilities and public officials to finally take advantage of innovations that could radically reshape the nation's power consumption without lowering the standard of living.

Some are technological fixes, from more-efficient light bulbs to variable-speed motors that use less energy when the load on them isn't as heavy. Others involve public policy. States are rewriting their building codes with an eye on conservation, and Washington is trying to lay down efficiency standards for more household appliances and electronic goods. Utilities are joining the effort as well, offering consumers rebates for buying efficient appliances and urging customers to use electricity more wisely.