News, Analysis and Opinion for the Informed Boulder Resident
Monday August 10th 2020

Support the Blue Line

Subscribe to the Blue Line

That's what she said

city council transportation energy municipalization xcel housing urban planning april fools bicycles climate action density election 2011 affordable housing boulder county open space election renewables agriculture CU local food climate change election 2013 development youth jefferson parkway pedestrian election 2015 preservation Rocky Flats election 2017 recreation BVSD mountain bikes immigration boards and commissions plan boulder farming fracking GMOs transit urban design decarbonization planning board fires colorado politics wildlife land use smart regs downtown architecture new era colorado transit village parking homeless journalism plutonium natural gas ghgs commuting radioactive waste rental coal height limits taxes april fools 2015 walkability historic preservation energy efficiency historic district Neighborhoods diversity zoning population growth growth students North Boulder flood arts gardens education University Hill water supply bus election 2010 solar election 2018 nutrition RTD sprawl water quality election 2012 groundwater bike lane electric utility safety library april fools 2016 renewable energy affairs of the heart organic flood plain wetlands planning reserve zero waste mayor blue line electric vehicle ballot right-sizing street design transportation master plan obama hazardous waste county commissioners politics hogan-pancost longmont colorado legislature climate smart loan diagonal plaza campaign finance flood mitigation bears Mapleton solar panels PV recycling comprehensive plan golden conservation easement epa boulder junction pesticide congestion food drought road diet oil bus rapid transit commercial development inequality election 2016 flooding planning daily camera public health community cycles BVCP ecocycle Newlands automobile PUC climate change deniers children david miller ken wilson sam weaver community league of women voters wind power public spaces boulder creek crime mlk civil rights west tsa marijuana technology arizona Orchard Grove EV green points al bartlett Whittier city attorney

Policy Innovations | The paradox of efficiency


By

Several thousand officials from 194 countries just gathered in Cancún, Mexico, for yet another global climate summit. Dissatisfied with the pace of climate diplomacy, many individuals are now wondering what they can do about climate change on their own.

For years now, climate activists from Al Gore to Leonardo DiCaprio have argued that individual actions like driving more economical cars and using more efficient light bulbs are a crucial element in the effort to address global warming. The United Nations’ climate panel and the International Energy Agency both echo this sentiment, insisting that higher energy efficiency could reduce energy consumption by up to 30 percent—making improved efficiency an effective remedy for climate change. But is this really true?

Here’s something to think about. Back in the early 1970s, the average American expended roughly 70 million British thermal units per year to heat, cool, and power his or her home. Since then, of course, we have made great strides in energy efficiency. As the Washington Post recently reported, dishwashers now use 45 percent less power than they did two decades ago, and refrigerators 51 percent less. So how much energy do Americans use in their homes today? On a per capita basis, the figure is roughly what it was 40 years ago: 70 million BTUs.

Read the entire article at Policy Innovations: The Paradox of Efficiency

Rate this article: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

Reader Feedback

One Response to “Policy Innovations | The paradox of efficiency”

  1. Tom Volckhausen says:

    The attached article vastly oversimplifies a complex issue.

    This quote from the article is simply incorrect ” Efficiency doesn’t reduce consumption; it increases it.”

    The rebound effect of efficiency is real, but usually is much less than 100%. For example, increasing mpg by purchasing a Prius may increase miles traveled due to lower gas costs, but cutting gas consumption by 50% is very unlikely to result in doubling miles driven. Most people just don’t have the time in their lives to go from the US average of 12000 miles per year to 24000.

    In my work in building energy efficiency, I see measured data showing that the rebound effect definitely exists, but is almost always much less than 100%, with measured data showing that increased efficiency almost always results in reduced consumption.

    If you insulate your attic, will you really change your thermostat heating setpoint from 68 to 136?

What do you think? Leave a comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.