By Sen. Mark R. Warner and Alex Laskey
Here’s an unsettling fact: The U.S.economy wastes more energy than it uses. Each year, 57percent of the energy flowing into our economy — from oil, coal, natural gas or renewables — is wasted as heat, noise and leaks. And this estimate is conservative: It doesn’t include lights that illuminate unoccupied rooms, or air conditioners left running in a vacant home or office.
When you pour a cup of coffee in the morning, you wouldn’t tolerate 57 percent of it dribbling out through a gaping hole in the side of the mug. So why do we allow this to happen to the energy that powers our economy? America’s energy waste doesn’t just put us at the bottom of international rankings (a 2012study ranked the U.S. ninth out of 12 major economies, three places behind China); it’s also costing businesses and households $130 billion per year.
Warner, a Democrat, serves on the Senate Banking, Budget, Commerce and Intelligence committees. Laskey is the president and co-founder of Opower, an energy efficiency software company based in Arlington.