| Things to think about
though we have access to better technologies every year, some
aspects of our energy efficiency have actually fallen in recent
years, such as driving in bigger cars and living in bigger homes.
The recently enacted energy restructuring law seeks to promote
energy efficiency programs that are economically and environmentally
sound. This law allocates over $100 million annually for energy
efficiency and renewable energy programs.
deregulation of the electric industry, most New Jersey residents
are now able to choose where their electricity comes from and
how it is made. Consumers can now choose electricity that is
produced from renewable resources rather than by fossil fuel
combustion or nuclear energy.
indicator measures how many dollars our economy produces for
each unit of energy consumed. Energy efficiency is a measure
of economic competitiveness. Most of our energy comes from sources
outside New Jersey (oil, coal, nuclear, natural gas) and creates
large environmental impacts. As our energy efficiency increases,
we become less dependent upon our out-of-state sources of energy
and better able to reduce the amount of pollution and greenhouse
gases that we emit. Getting more out of each unit of energy
means paying less when we heat our homes, drive our cars, purchase
products, and run our industries. Those savings can become an
investment in new businesses, in education, and in new technologies.
have a powerful advantage over their inefficient competitors.
They pay less when they buy energy and then pay less again when
they are spared from expensive cleanup of pollution. Fluctuations
in the price of fuel have less effect on efficient companies,
and government regulators have less need to focus on them. Energy
efficiency is a mark of a well-run company. Lower energy expenses
also increase disposable income for individuals.
of most energy is very harmful to the environment, as evidenced
by pollution, strip mining, radioactive waste, and landscapes
changed radically by dams. Massive burning of fossil fuels is
the major cause of global warming, which may have disastrous
environmental effects. Impressive reductions in the use of polluting
fossil fuels are available to us from technologies such as compact
fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL) and cars that get high gas mileage.
For instance, a CFL is four times as efficient as an incandescent
bulb, lasts 10 times longer, and saves about $40 per bulb over
its lifetime; yet CFLs are still not widely accepted and used.
and government regulations play a large part in our energy choices,
reducing energy consumption will require small changes and choices
in all of our lives that can only come about through social
awareness. It means driving less, buying more efficient homes
and appliances, and choosing sustainable energy sources.
need measures of economic resource efficiency that include more
than just energy, but also cover our use of timber, land, water,
metals, and other materials. We do not yet have widely released,
assessed, or accepted data on the percentage of our energy that
comes from renewable, clean, or sustainable sources. As a result
of energy deregulation, new data are becoming available through
a new reporting requirement that provides consumers with a standard
set of information about the environmental characteristics of
energy they purchase.
Sources: US Energy Information Administration and US Department
of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis