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What is Energy Efficiency?

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Energy efficiency involves technology that produces the same end product while using less energy.  For example, an energy efficient air conditioner produces the same level of cooling capability while using less energy than the average air conditioner on the market. This technology is always changing because a device that was energy efficient 30 years ago is probably not energy efficient today.

Energy efficiency programs have become increasingly popular as global warming has become more of a threat.  As many people in the industry say, “the cleanest energy is the energy never used.”  For example, consider a business that installs solar panels on its office buildings, but does not replace its inefficient light bulbs and air conditioners.  If the inefficient devices were replaced by efficient ones, there may not have even been a need for the solar panels in the first place.  Clean energy powering dirty devices does the world no good.  For this reason, Barack Obama calls energy efficiency “the cheapest, cleanest, fastest energy source.”

Since the purpose of energy efficiency is to reduce overall energy use whenever a device is running, its impact on peak demand depends on usage patterns.  An energy efficient dishwasher has less of an impact on peak demand because most families run their dishwashers after dinner.  An energy efficient air conditioner has more of an impact on peak demand because it consumes relatively more energy during the afternoon.

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