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Nifty Gadgets Aren’t Enough

27 March 2009

There are lot of great energy efficient technology out there than can help homeowners AND renters save money on energy – compact fluoresecent light bulbs, low-flow showerheads, programmable thermostats, EnergyStar appliances, hybrid vehicles, etc – but, unfortunately, they can’t get the job done on their own.  For a while now environmentalists have been discussing Jevon’s Paradox, or the proposition that efficient technology can lead to increased demand.  USA Today apparently just discovered this phenomenon of people investing in energy efficient technology, and then decreasing their savings by increasing their use…only they have renamed it “The Snackwell Effect.”

Jevons or Snackwell, it can be a real issue.  I have encountered this with people who have recently installed new highly efficient refrigerators and then saw their energy bills go up – because they decided to keep the old, highly inefficient fridge in the garage for pop.  This doesn’t mean that energy efficiency tactics are useless or don’t garner real savings!  It means that behavior is just as important as the equipment. When you replace old horrible incandescents with compact fluorescents, it doesn’t mean you can leave the lights on all day, or does buying a new EnergyStar clothes washer mean that you can just wash one sock if you want to now.  Energy efficiency paired with simple, effective conservation measures equals real savings…and you can eat your Snackwells, too.

As always, you can find the perfect pairings of technological advances and behavioral suggestions on the Minnesota Energy Challenge website.

:: USA Today

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