It's deceptively comforting, the warm glow of the suburbs after nightfall. But a fiend lurks where the light pours from the windows of too-often-empty rooms. The monster within is America's voracious demand for power; despite the threat to bank account and planet, we keep using more. The steps to tame electricity in the home are known but hard to manage in our technology-rich world. Workplace energy waste does nothing to bolster the economy, although creative ideas abound for battling the beast. A key move may be to give power companies rewards for efficiency. Leadership will be essential, but the politics of sacrifice doesn't play well. Individuals must take the first steps; a starting place is unnecessary consumption by computers. And if you must have new gadgets, look at those that help monitor energy use, curb it, and even generate clean power.
By Marianne Lavelle