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Environmental

You know energy efficiency has arrived when it is featured in the WSJ

 
The logic of energy efficiency has arrived. As noted recently in the Wall Street Journal: "Homes are embarrassingly inefficient. They consume 21% of all energy used in the U.S., according to federal figures. That's more than cars, or planes, or offices. Yet studies say U.S. homes commonly waste 30% of the energy they use. About one-third of that energy loss could be stopped by such simple moves as caulking and insulating.
 
Building new houses that are more energy-efficient would make sense. But the bigger problem is the houses that exist today. Some 115 million homes exist in the U.S., and less than one million more are built every year. The federal government says that existing homes consume about 90% of the amount of energy that will be used by the country's housing stock in 2030.
 
If energy efficiency makes such sense in theory, why doesn't it happen more in practice? Although energy-efficiency upgrades typically pay for themselves in reduced fuel costs over time, they still require a high up-front investment -- one many homeowners, who might soon sell their houses, are loath to make." For the entire article, see http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123629700922046051.html.
 
Though may of the contrasts made by the article involve noting the advantage of efficiency over various alternative energy generation technologies (e.g., wind), you know that the energy efficiency has arrived when it receives such a major play. It has, of course, been known for decades that energy efficiency is always the least expensive way to improve energy usage or reduce the cost of "generating", one might say. Now, as more of the traditional externalities are being captured in comparisons of alternative vs. conventional generating technologies, it is interesting to see the slow, steady convergence of cost per kWh. As noted in prior posts, even some wind technologies are surprisingly competitive. See, for example, http://www.economist.com/science/tq/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12673331, http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11565667, and http://www.economist.com/science/tq/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_VVSTQNR.