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The conclusions come from a survey of 50 government, academic and industry experts

It's common to walk into stores and see certain appliances with the Energy Star label, meaning these refrigerators and washing machines are energy efficient. Efforts such as this are made to reduce our energy consumption, and while the International Energy Outlook 2011 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that worldwide energy will increase 53 percent by 2035, two economists say otherwise.

According to a paper written by economists Ahmad Faruqui and Doug Mitarotonda, who work for consulting firm The Brattle Group, the consumption of electricity will decrease 5 to 15 percent by 2020. The conclusions come from a survey of 50 government, academic and industry experts, according to MSNBC.

Faruqui and Mitarotonda say that the drop will occur due to Energy Star appliances, less usage of incandescent light bulbs, incentives that encourage users not to consume as much energy during peak hours (such as tiered pricing and smart meter technology), and other programs that raise awareness of people's energy consumption.

"The survey results clearly repudiate the notion that the age of energy efficiency has come to an end," wrote Faruqui and Mitarotonda in the paper. "On the contrary, they herald a new beginning for energy efficiency."

Faruqui and Mitarotonda referred to this age of energy efficiency as integrated demand-side management, or iDSM. This era, according to the economists, encompasses the above-mentioned practices taking place to lessen energy use.

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Not a good thing
By lightfoot on 9/27/2011 12:37:49 PM , Rating: 3
Historically, energy use only decreases during times of high unemployment.

This news isn't good.

RE: Not a good thing
By Reclaimer77 on 9/27/2011 12:47:36 PM , Rating: 1
Not just unemployment, but high inflation. Inflation is the big one here, and it's NOT good.

These idiots view this as some kind of benefit of people not being able to heat their homes as much or afford electricity.

Great Depression 2.0 here we come.

RE: Not a good thing
By jbartabas on 9/27/2011 1:10:48 PM , Rating: 1
Did you even read the article?

RE: Not a good thing
By lightfoot on 9/27/2011 2:36:32 PM , Rating: 3
Even with gains in efficiency, the only factors that historically reduce energy use are unemployment and inflation (through higher energy prices.)

There must be an assumption that people will somehow become content in their current life style and will never purchase new gadgets; that they will simply remain satisfied with more efficient versions of the gadgets that they already have. This assumption has never been true.

If our existing gadgets get more efficient, we will simply get more gadgets, and they will become more common among poorer classes.

Given the choice, people will never choose to use less energy. They will use what they can afford because it makes their lives easier. If they use less energy it will only be because they are forced to do so because it becomes unaffordable.

For example I keep my thermostat at 78 in summer because energy is expensive. If my AC became more efficient (all else being equal) I would keep my house at a more comfortable 72. My first choice wouldn't be to simply use less energy; it would be to improve my quality of life.

RE: Not a good thing
By wiz220 on 9/27/2011 2:58:34 PM , Rating: 2
If our existing gadgets get more efficient, we will simply get more gadgets, and they will become more common among poorer classes.

I disagree, I doubt very much that anyone will think, "Hmm, my washing machine is more efficient. It must be time to buy new things to use more energy!"

It just doesn't make sense. I know I've never thought that way. I would buy a gadget because it seemed cool and potentially useful. The only real thing that would cause me to buy more gadgets other than those factors would be if I made more money. Which actually speaks to the arguments being made by others, using less energy could very well be a sign of bad economic times.

RE: Not a good thing
By Solandri on 9/27/2011 3:06:49 PM , Rating: 3
I disagree, I doubt very much that anyone will think, "Hmm, my washing machine is more efficient. It must be time to buy new things to use more energy!"

That is, in fact, exactly what happens.

RE: Not a good thing
By Kiffberet on 9/28/2011 7:19:29 AM , Rating: 2
'Gadgets' aren't the items that heavily use electricty. Having 6 iPads in the house isn't going to use nearly as much as a 100w light bulb.

With newer houses being built with proper insulation, and energy efficient lightbulbs 15% reduction sounds reasonable to me.

RE: Not a good thing
By rolodomo on 9/28/2011 9:33:00 AM , Rating: 2
You assume incremental increases in efficiency will lead to significantly lower consumer utility bills, despite increasing energy costs. Why?

If consumers to see a significant reduction in their utility bill, they won't buy that extra washing machine.

RE: Not a good thing
By lightfoot on 9/29/2011 11:28:01 AM , Rating: 2
Why would you assume increasing energy costs if demand was actually falling?

The primary force that drives energy prices up is demand. If increased energy efficiency actually reduces demand, we should expect stable or falling prices. The only way prices would continue to rise is if energy demand continues to increase. That is an assumption that directly contradicts the article.

RE: Not a good thing
By Spuke on 9/27/2011 3:13:50 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree, I doubt very much that anyone will think, "Hmm, my washing machine is more efficient. It must be time to buy new things to use more energy!
No they don't but our behavior suggests otherwise. When we save money, typically unexpectedly, we tend to spend the savings in other areas. Those other things we spend money on may be more energy using devices. An extra new TV for the kids bedroom for example.

RE: Not a good thing
By lightfoot on 9/27/2011 3:21:13 PM , Rating: 2
But you own a washing machine.

Previous generations didn't.

Heck many of the poor still don't.

If the lightbulbs and ovens are more efficient for the person who doesn't yet have a washing machine they may buy one if they can now afford it.

Most people didn't have TV's 50 years ago, now even the poor have 2 or more. Ten years ago most people didn't have cell phones because they were large bulky and expensive. Now that they are more efficient there are FAR more of them, even the starving kids in Africa use power to charge their cell phones.

When computers got more efficient people didn't settle for the same functionality of that old 8086 IBM, they got more powerful computers and they got MANY more of them.

Now that you can reasonably heat and light your home you now choose to own a dishwasher, washing machine, cloths dryer, have indoor AC and heated water. You choose to use a vacuum cleaner instead of a broom, or a gas powered lawnmower instead of a push mower. You use hedge trimmers instead of hand trimmers.

If you don't then you are not a typical energy user. Why would all the trends of the last couple centuries suddenly stop because tomorrow's microwave just happens to be slightly more efficient?

RE: Not a good thing
By invidious on 9/27/2011 4:52:17 PM , Rating: 2
The only purpose money serves is to be spent. If you save it, it is so that later you can spend it when you need it. If you invest it, it is so that you can have more to spend later.

If the things people buy costs less, they buy more, thats life. To act otherwise is to live below your means, a path that few people would intentionally take. Cost isn't just about dollars, time/energy/stress/knowledge/sweat/blood is all have value and you need to consider that opportunity costs in matters like this.

Opportunity cost is one of the most important concepts in understanding the human condition. Just because you don't pay money for something doesn't mean it didn't cost you. Just because you got something for free doesn't mean it doesn't have value that you can leverage.

RE: Not a good thing
By TSS on 9/27/2011 6:43:01 PM , Rating: 2
Considering your national debt will rise with around $8,5 trillion over the next decade, even if congress passes the planned $3 trillion in cuts over the next decade, i very much doubt you need to use the energy usage statistic to predict future bad economic times.

And considering if i lend the US $100 now i'll get $99 back in 5 years, there's alot more stuff that makes alot less sense right now and in the future then people using less energy.

RE: Not a good thing
By Reclaimer77 on 9/27/2011 4:13:46 PM , Rating: 2
Great post and spot on. I really think not enough people are aware of how dangerous a combination high unemployment and inflation really is. And I wasn't being glib at all, the parallels between us today and the events leading to the Great Depression are scarey.

Anyone shopped for groceries lately? Food prices are obscene! And it's not getting any better. Analysts predict food prices through 2012 will continue to rise at a rate HIGHER than the rate of inflation. There are people out there literally having to choose between eating enough or driving and heating/cooling their homes.

I know Leftists and the current Administration exhort the virtues of "cutting back" and using less, but these are not good qualities at all. In reality, like Lightfoot is saying, it really just means things are slowing down. It's an attempt to romanticize and spin what is potentially a disastrous economic downturn.

RE: Not a good thing
By ipay on 9/27/2011 5:31:22 PM , Rating: 2
There certainly are some parallels, but there are also quite a few differences.

That was exactly why everyone ended up bailing out certain companies deemed "too big to fail", because the fear was that if those companies collapsed and laid off about 5% of the countries workforce at once it would quickly spread everywhere else and lead to similar 30% unemployment rates last seen in the Great Depression.

Because of the massive government interference, they've taken what would have been a second great depression and lessened the pain into a great recession - one that may end up lasting longer than it otherwise would have, but hopefully without some of the worst consequences.

They really need to limit corn ethanol production IMO to reduce food prices. Good luck getting the farm state senators to agree to that.

RE: Not a good thing
By drycrust3 on 9/28/2011 11:03:56 AM , Rating: 2
One factor that has been overlooked is the value of your country's currency in comparison to the rest of the world. If your country has a strong currency then imported fuels are cheaper than if your country has a weak currency.
This, in turn, has flow on effects that would be less significant if the currency was strong.
If we take the USA as an example, the weakening of its currency has meant the cost of imported fuel has risen in comparison to if the dollar was strong. Not being familiar with the situation there, and not knowing the amount of locally produced fuels, it would surprising if the cost the end user had not risen. Even if the cost internationally of producing fuel had remained constant, the cost to the American user would still have gone up (unless they had close to 100% of locally produced fuel), but the cost internationally of producing fuel has risen (because of supply and demand issues), so one would expect the cost to the end user has probably gone up far more than the amount the currency weakened by.

RE: Not a good thing
By Reclaimer77 on 9/27/2011 3:54:00 PM , Rating: 2
Did you even read the article?

Yes. Did you notice the sources and than apply critical thinking to read between the lines? Obviously not.

RE: Not a good thing
By surt on 9/27/2011 4:41:07 PM , Rating: 2
Inflation will at least solve the housing crisis.

RE: Not a good thing
By sleepeeg3 on 9/28/2011 3:34:14 AM , Rating: 2
Gains made by Energy Star? Energy Star is a fraud. They backed a gas-powered alarm clock:

Also, I like how this article ignores the US Energy Information Administration report that consumption will increase, in favor of "two economists." Since when did liberals start trusting private industry over government sources? Right - when it's convenient.

By HPSwami on 9/27/2011 12:39:05 PM , Rating: 4
I don't buy this. They must be making several other assumptions such as the total failure of electric cars and maybe the total failure of Google. I might buy that our rate of increase slows down, but decrease? Oh well, they can predict whatever they want and I predict that 8 years from now, nobody will remember what they predicted.

RE: Shananigans
By Schrag4 on 9/27/2011 1:00:10 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure they consider all sources of energy, not just electricity. If I'm not mistaken, an electric car will use less energy than its fossil fuel counterpart to do the same work. That being said, I also will believe it when I see it.

RE: Shananigans
By HPSwami on 9/27/2011 1:50:00 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with your sentiment, but the article specifically states that "consumption of electricity will decrease 5 to 15 percent by 2020", so my thought was that the decrease in fossil fuel usage would be transferring over to electric. It is an interesting (and probably very complicated) question as to which form of energy is the most efficient (given extraction, processing, delivery, etc...).

RE: Shananigans
By Solandri on 9/27/2011 3:47:07 PM , Rating: 3
Electricity is pretty much the best (most efficient, cheapest) form we have for generating and transmitting energy. The problem with electricity in transportation and mobile applications is that it's very expensive to store.

Two AA batteries which cost you $0.80 at Costco hold about 0.1 cents worth of electricity. That is, 0.12% of the money you're shelling out is for the electricity, 99.88% is for the container used to store the electricity. Your laptop battery that costs $50 to replace? About half a cent to 1 cent worth of electricity. The half dozen car batteries to power an electric golf cart? About $1 worth of electricity. The 600 lb battery on the Nissan Leaf which gets you 70 miles according to the EPA? $2.88 worth of electricity (ignoring charging losses).

So you can see why if at all possible, devices are powered by plugging in rather than using batteries.

And I agree with you, transitioning to electric vehicles is going to drive electricity use way up. It shouldn't dramatically impact rates initially though, as most of the increased usage is going to be during evening and night, when we currently have lots of excess generation capacity.

RE: Shananigans
By Schrag4 on 9/27/2011 5:49:26 PM , Rating: 2
You're right. This article's title says "Energy" and the content says "Electricity." I don't suppose Tiffany would like to update one or the other to reflect the actual study. I believe it's a very important distinction. Electricity usage will most certainly increase as more EV's hit the road.

RE: Shananigans
By Hiawa23 on 9/27/2011 2:57:48 PM , Rating: 2
I aint buying this. If anything it will increase...

RE: Shananigans
By Spuke on 9/27/2011 1:12:51 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not buying this either. A quick trip to the US EIA shows our energy use has increased in the last 10 years not decreased (although not by much).

Government Energy Star sucks
By Kurz on 9/27/2011 12:19:20 PM , Rating: 1
Why Can't we have a more upfront Energy Efficiency label,
Like the 80Plus standard on Power supplies?

It takes time and research to narrow down Choices because you need to find out about specifications and reviews in order to find the most efficient product.

I am all for UL or some other organization to come forth and provide a better labeling system. We probably will never see this coming from the Gov.

RE: Government Energy Star sucks
By tastyratz on 9/27/2011 1:15:07 PM , Rating: 3
Do you mean a label similar to the one provided on energy star appliances? The one that states average kwh/$ used by the device, the high and low numbers for similar devices in the category, and a graph of where said device lands in relation to all other devices in the market?
A label like that?

Maybe an energy efficient certification we can stick on these devices as well? Let's call that energy star

In other news...
By sleepeeg3 on 9/28/2011 3:24:46 AM , Rating: 2
Energy costs are expected to increase by 50-150% by 2020.

Thanks, hippie tree huggers!

RE: In other news...
By David Rushton on 9/28/2011 10:46:35 AM , Rating: 2
Energy costs are expected to increase by 50-150% by 2020.

Do you have a reference for this prediction? Have you seen the cost of solar panels recently? Here is one article to show that creative programs using solar panels will be bringing the cost of electricity down. the cost for panels continues to decrease (there are many technological innovations in the pipeline that will continue to push the price down). I hope the cost of utility power goes up 150% in the next 9 yrs - more power to alternatives.

Thanks, hippie tree huggers!!!!!!!!

By casteve on 9/27/2011 1:04:03 PM , Rating: 1
The EIA figures are worldwide energy use and the increase of 53% is over 27 years.

These dudes are talking about a drop of 5 to 15% in US consumption over 9 years.

If you look at the EIA data, most of the increase is happening in non-member nations (think China, India, etc). If you look at the member nations, the increase over this same 9 year period is 6%.

So, a more relevant comment would be:
- While other developed nations are increasing their energy use ~6% by 2020, the US will decrease it's use by 5 to 15% over the same period.

or, Holy cow, look how much energy will be required as the non-developed nations develop.

By Spuke on 9/27/2011 1:14:11 PM , Rating: 2
"Whoot! There it is!"

By kattanna on 9/27/2011 12:17:47 PM , Rating: 2
the consumption of electricity will decrease 5 to 15 percent by 2020

aye as we continue to send manufacturing overseas and more and more people become homeless, of course we will be using less energy

By niva on 9/27/2011 5:59:30 PM , Rating: 2
While we will use less electricity for the things we do today, I'd be shocked if our total consumption doesn't go up. Especially with higher gas prices (which are inevitable) and more plug-in cars. That being said 2020 is rather soon, I'm thinking more in line with the 2035 figure given in the article.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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