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Energy Efficiency

Results And The Future

Efforts to increase public consciousness about energy efficiency issues have had some remarkable successes in the past two decades. Despite the increasing complexity of most developed societies and increased population growth in many nations, energy is being used more efficiently in almost every part of the world. Increased efficiency of energy use increased between 1973 and 1985 by as much as 31% in Japan, 23% in the United States, 20% in the United Kingdom, and 19% in Italy. At the beginning of this period, most experts had predicted that changes of this magnitude could be accomplished only as a result of the massive reorganization of social institutions; this has not been the case. Processes and inventions that continue to increase energy efficiency can be incorporated into daily life with minimal disruptions to personal lives and industrial operations.

Energy efficiency has a long way to go, however. In December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, a global warming agreement was proposed to the nations of the world to cut carbon emissions, reduce levels of so-called "green-house gases" (methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide), and use existing technologies to improve energy efficiency. These technologies apply to all levels of society from governments and industries to the individual household. But experts acknowledge that the public must recognize the global warming problem as real and serious before existing technologies and a host of potential new products will be supported.



Flavin, Christopher, and Alan B. Durning. Building on Success: The Age of Energy Efficiency. Worldwatch Paper 82. Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute, March 1988.

Hirst, Eric, et al. Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Progress and Promise. Washington, DC: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, 1986.

Hoffmann, Peter, and Tom Harkin. Tomorrow's Energy: Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, and Prospects for a Cleaner Planet. Boston: MIT Press, 2001.

Meier, Alan K., et al. Saving Energy through Greater Efficiency. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.


U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. Building Energy Efficiency. OTA-E-518. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, May 1992.

David E. Newton


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—A process by which heat produced as a result of industrial processes is used to generate electrical power.

Mass transit

—Any form of transportation in which significantly large numbers of riders are moved within the same vehicle at the same time.

Solar cell

—A device by which sunlight is converted into electricity.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Electrophoresis (cataphoresis) to EphemeralEnergy Efficiency - History Of Energy Concerns, Energy Efficiency In Buildings, Transportation, Energy Efficiency In Industry, Other Techniques For Increasing Energy Efficiency