Follow on Twitter

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Saving Energy Increases Consumption--True

Interesting article in the New Yorker late last year about the very real paradox that increases in energy efficiency tend to increase (rather than decrease) the rate energy consumption.

Check out the article at It was written by David Owens, a New Yorker staff writer since 1991.

This is a true and measured effect, and I think we all know it to be true in our personal lives: for instance, when I saved money on my heating bill (after replacing my very old inefficient windows) I saw my energy bill reduce about $8-$10 a month on average. I can assure you I used that extra money to run my furnace longer this year during this extremely cold winter.

There appears to be a sense that energy efficiency is a waste of time, and money.

I think this is a mistake.

The benefit of energy efficiency investments is to give homeowners and businesses a way to increase the value -- to them -- of the energy they consume. This could result in a decision to lower energy consumption overall and either divert the savings to your bank account or to spend it on more food or to increase energy use by installing decorative outdoor lighting.

In the end, this is good for the individual and well as the overall economy. Power plants are expensive, credit is tight, and increasing efficiency is the same as increasing productivity.