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Think Out Loud

The Efficiency Factor

Pete Springer/OPB

Next up in OPB’s The Switch series, we’ll be looking at ways individual conservation factors into Oregon’s energy mix. After all, the most basic way to cut greenhouse gases is to use less energy. But can the light bulbs we use and the windows installed in our homes really make a difference when it comes to halting, or at least slowing, wide-scale climate change?

Bob Doppelt, author of The Power of Sustainable Thinking, says both government and individuals are responsible for promoting energy efficiency but that more emphasis is needed on effecting behavioral changes in the population at-large. He points to energy monitors, which provide real-time analysis of the energy being used in your home, as one means to train people to pay attention to their energy use. The University of Oregon’s Climate Leadership Initiative, which Doppelt directs, runs a Climate Masters program, which assists people with ways to reduce emissions at home and in their daily lives.

At the governmental level, a variety of tax incentives are in place to promote energy efficiency in homes and businesses. But not everyone thinks that’s a good idea. Terry Anderson, executive director of the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana, which advocates for free market solutions to environmental problems, says the government is “unlikely to pick the right winners. It would be much better to simply give people their money back” and let them decide how to use it.

So what’s the best way to encourage decreased personal consumption? Is it the government’s responsibility? How do you conserve at home? What have been the results? What would it take for you to switch to a more energy efficient lifestyle? How far would you go to save the planet?



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