Energy Efficiency Could Be The Next Big Thing

Maybe it's time to think big.

Gov. Jerry Brown said so in a speech in Las Vegas. Former Treasury secretary Robert Reich noted it in a column for Huffington Post. Maybe, after four years of economic malaise, it is time for a grand gesture.

Critics, of course, will holler, saying the nation is broke and should cut expenditures. But, there is a way to satisfy both camps. There is a way to make a big economic impact - how does a 30% boost in revenue sound? - in a way that leaves the nation healthier economically, while also creating jobs, eliminating waste and reducing the nation's carbon footprint.

It is as simple as reducing your energy bill. A large-scale campaign to cut energy costs would create jobs and save businesses and homeowners billions, or even trillions of dollars - which could then be reinvested or otherwise directed into the economy.

Consider what city officials in Fresno found when they and PG&E crunched newly released data: Businesses and residents could save an astounding $260 million by cutting energy use 30%. And it wouldn't be that hard. Other energy-saving campaigns in Fresno already show savings in the 28% range. Here's more.

Think of what that means. Cutting 30% from my July power bill would have saved me $168. That's substantial, and it would have gone straight into my wallet - and eventually into the local economy.

That's just one person. Imagine the economic boost if millions of my close friends joined in. By some estimates, energy costs could be cut $1.2 trillion nationwide through efficiency alone. Jobs would be created through the retrofits and by businesses with more money to invest in technology or personnel.

And this stimulus wouldn't be a one-time thing; It is all gravy after the initial outlay is recouped. The owner of the iconic Empire State Building spent $13 million on energy upgrades, and saved $4.5 million in energy costs per year.

He is recouping the initial outlay in only a few years. That's an extreme example of course, but is indicative of the power of energy efficiency. What a great investment!

Photo of Empire State Building by Mishahu