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Amreica’s Enery Future: Technology and Transformation
technologies that are more efficient when their tenants pay the utility bills. And builders whose incentive is to minimize the cost of new homes may not offer highly efficient appliances that increase purchase prices but save buyers money over time.
Other factors may involve retailers of equipment and appliances. If there is low demand for efficient products, retailers may not stock them. Even purchasers who might be motivated to search elsewhere for an efficient product may have to deal with limited choices in the event of an emergency purchase, such as when a refrigerator fails.
Other reasons for the behavior gap are the subject of much social science research. They involve factors such as habits in purchasing or use, which can be very difficult to change. Some apparent consumer preferences—typically learned from parents, neighbors, and friends—may change very slowly, if at all.
Energy-savings investments by businesses and industries are not always seen as beneficial. If energy accounts for only a small part of total costs, or if the available capital is limited, other investments may be preferred—e.g., in reducing other costs, improving products, or developing new ones. If the consequences of a new-product or production-method failure are large, this in itself can maintain the status quo.
Firms may not be aware of the potential savings achievable by replacing equipment, such as older motors, with more efficient or variable-speed versions. When motors, large or small, are used throughout a facility, the savings from upgrading them can be substantial.
Energy efficiency investments by companies are made in the context of complex business cultures. “Champions,” or commitment at the highest levels, may be required.
More details on how barriers such as these play out in the buildings, transportation, and industrial sectors are given later in this chapter.
28 percent in transportation activities, and about 41 percent in the myriad activities and services associated with residential and commercial buildings. Figure 4.2 provides more detail, breaking out energy consumption by source and sector and also defining “primary” energy.
Energy use in the United States has grown steadily since 1949, with the exception of a dip in the mid-1970s during the oil crisis. Energy consumption today is double what it was in 1963 and 40 percent higher than it was in 1975 (the low point following the oil crisis). But there has also been progress in increasing the efficiency of energy use. The nation’s energy use per dollar of gross domes-