Whiplash: In Case you Missed the Energy Efficiency News of June 22-26, 2009

Steven Chu

A king and an angel - Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett - died on the same day this week, and a reverential Republican Governor got caught playing hooky with the wrong friend and without a note from home. (Argentina? Appalachian Trail.. almost the same).   How could energy efficiency possibly compete with a news cycle like that? Well, don't underestimate the power of Hohm Performance... we've got news.

Old parents, new kid. Microsoft announced the pending birth of Microsoft Hohm, an energy monitoring resource that will enable home owners to track not only electricity use, but also oil and gas. Hohm, which some immediately assumed would compete with Google's PowerMeter, is in fact a very different tool. Peter Troast provided a detailed and helpful comparison of Hohm and PowerMeter earlier this week. Differences notwithstanding, Microsoft's foray into this crowded (and Earth2Tech would argue Bubble-like) field, is yet another indication that energy efficiency is a hot and rapidly developing field. We continue to watch with the hope that these developments will benefit consumers, and specifically home owners hoping to reduce their energy usage.

A whiter shade of pale. Energy Secretary Steven Chu frequently talks about the real and pending threat of global warming. Recently he added to his discussion of smart grid technology and smart meters to reduce peak usage a "geo-engineering" solution -  white roofs and light-colored concrete (in lieu of blacktop) that he says would save 20 percent in energy costs and deflect most of the solar energy back into space.  Interesting thought, but how will we ever keep the roads clean? And will children try to draw designs on highways with sidewalk chalk? The world awaits...

Technology for better, please. Clean Break pointed out that Sylvania has launched a line of illuminated party treats, ranging from wine bottle stoppers to coasters. While all of the battery-operated table dressings are LED based, they are none-the-less completely unnecessary. We can't help but draw the comparison to low-fat potato chips. (Actually, no, they aren't good for you, and eating two bags will still make you feel awful). We're excited about developments in energy efficient lighting technology and would love to see improvements focus on energy-efficient dimmability  and increased household uses, rather than illuminating that which was doing fine in the dark.

Wrapping it with a bow: Utah Representative Rob Bishop brings together several big components of the news this week, noting that passage of the Waxman-Markey legislation, which provides cap and trade as well as building regulations to prevent climate change, would be a national tragedy, like Michael Jackson's death.  This isn't an analogy we embrace, but this much is true: the bill passed the House, and the King of Pop is gone.

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