Energy Efficiency: Bulbs to Use and Books to Read

We use more electricity now than ever, and since 2007 our energy usage in Texas is outpacing population growth.  How many of us charge our cell phones or laptops all night so they’re ready for use in the morning?  Or perhaps run the AC 24 hours a day during the blazing Texas summers?   Several years ago the Legislature passed a bill to bring down our consumption, but there’s still much to be done.  On one hand, legislation can continue to push down the maximum levels of energy consumption, thereby compelling energy companies to utilize more efficient forms of energy.  On the other, consumers and business owners can decide to individually pursue energy efficient technology, such as light bulbs, solar panels, and more efficient appliances.

Both suppliers and consumers must pursue energy efficiency to push it into the mainstream.  It’s the simple market equation of supply and demand—but who is going to push first?  Will energy companies supply more efficient forms of energy, or will consumers demand it until it really catches on?

While trolling the halls of Legislature during the last session and passing around information on efficient energy, I was pulled into a conversation between two gentlemen in one of the offices.  We discussed a slew of topics, including the Austin rodent problem of Fall 2008, the general usefulness of cats, and (prompted by my flier) light bulbs.   One gentleman was insistent that LEDs do not provide near the quality of incandescent bulbs, and therefore refused to use them in his home.  I was not exactly sure how to respond to that (I’m no bulb expert) but in my research I found the video posted below.


So why aren’t these alien light bulbs everywhere?  Some are too expensive for the average consumer, but I had no idea that so many varieties exist.   Since they save so much on energy usage, why aren’t they more popular?

Energy efficient technology largely depends on consumer purchases and support.  Sometimes it is just easier to stick with what we know and what we’ve purchased for decades instead of taking on the consumer risk that comes with new products.  Information is so limited regarding energy efficient technology that many would-be energy-efficient consumers are not aware of the true nature of their options, or that efficient energy technology is capable to work as a total substitute to our current modes of electricity production and usage.  By the way, for a super cool site on new energy technology, check this out.

Also,  traditional forms of energy production are multi-billion dollar industries, and they have a huge pull in our government.  In Texas, we have committed to decreasing the peak demand of energy and raising our goal of energy efficiency, but that ignores that fact that we have the potential go so much further.   So why don’t we?!

If horses could vote then we would not have switched to cars.  But the Coal and Oil Guys can vote, and they don’t want to lose their jobs or their market, nor are they going to relinquish their paychecks to energy efficient technology.

So, who can match the pressure of the these lobbyists?  We can, because we are informed and motivated, and know that the population does not realize any gains from these antiquated forms of energy production.  In fact, we endure huge losses.

The horses-cars quote isn’t mine–I ripped it off from  Thomas Friedman.  Many of you may have  heard of Mr. Friedman, and his latest book has some brilliant ideas concerning the potential for efficient energy technology.  He believes that energy technology as the next Big Industry, the next Macintosh if you will, but right now we’re behind because we have not instated the right price controls to stimulate any real innovation in this industry.

Check out this video of Thomas Friedman on Larry King.  He gives a rundown of the influences that are stifling the creation of an energy-efficient nation.



By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.