THE CAUSE OF CONSERVATION
May 10, 2007
The Energy Efficiency Promotion Act, now pending in Congress, would promote the development and use of advanced lighting technologies while expediting new efficiency standards for appliances and industrial equipment. It would also facilitate high efficiency vehicles that use advanced batteries and set goals for cutting gasoline consumption, says Ken Silverstein, editor-in-chief of EnergyBiz Insider.
On the appliance standards alone, the bill's proponents say it would provide the following savings:
- At least 50 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year, or enough to power roughly 4.8 million typical U.S. households.
- Some 170 million therms of natural gas per year, or enough to heat about a quarter million typical U.S. homes.
- At least 560 million gallons of water per day, or about 1.3 percent of total daily potable water usage.
- Overall, the bill would save more than $12 billion in net present benefits for consumers.
Some, however, question the role of the federal government in this process, noting that the free market should be the determinate of whether new products become commercially viable. According to H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis, if people want more energy-efficient household appliances or insulation systems, they can buy these products.
He points to Denmark as an example of failed mandates:
- In the 1970s, the country mandated strict new energy efficiency standards for appliances.
- While energy use in new washing machines and new freezers dropped from 25 percent and 31 percent from 1978 to 1986; total domestic consumption in electricity rose by 20 percent during the same time period.
Source: Ken Silverstein, "The Cause of Conservation," EnergyBiz Insider, May 9, 2007.
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