This year marks an early start to the Jewish Festival of (efficient and renewable) Lights.
Hanukkah commemorates the “rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem” twenty-two centuries ago. The miracle being celebrated is that they only had enough “consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days.”
From my perspective, the miracle was a sign from on high to use renewable fuels and/or put them in a lamp that burns very, very efficiently. And speaking about green lights, even better than the LED motherboard menorah above is the world’s first solar-powered menorah, in Woodstock, NY (which coincidentally enough is near my hometown).
Rabbi Yitzchok Hecht said of the menorah, “the concept of taking the energy of the sun and using it to bring light into the darkness of night is a beautiful complement to the miracle and story of Chanukah.”
With solar power costs dropping a near-miraculous 99% in a quarter century (thanks to government-led deployment programs), renewable energy is starting to get the attention it deserves. So I think the Festival of superefficient Lights is a good time to remember that other neglected source of limitless energy — efficiency.
Energy efficiency is the most important climate solution for several reasons:
- It is by far the biggest resource, especially in the United States, the Saudi Arabia of wasted energy.
- It is by far the cheapest, far cheaper than the current cost of unsustainable energy, so cheap that it helps pay for the other solutions.
- It is by far the fastest to deploy, without the transmission and siting issues that plague most other strategies.
- It is “renewable” — the efficiency potential never runs out.
Efficiency has the highest documented rate of return of any federal program. And California has adopted many strategies to do efficiency cost effectively.
Finally, if you’re wondering what you can do to save energy, the Alliance to Save Energy has this helpful recent list of “Top 10 Energy Efficiency Smartphone Apps.”