By Steven Castle, GreenTech Advocates

We can’t keep up with all the news regarding green technologies and energy efficiency these days. And that should be considered a good thing for these markets.

Here are five very good reasons to look forward to good green tech and energy-efficient times ahead.

1. New Efficiency Standards Save $$$

The new energy efficiency standards have been released by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which has established the first-ever regional standards for central air conditioners and furnaces, as well as strengthened national standards for heat pumps.

image via Shutterstock

Once the latest updated standards take effect, a typical new air conditioner in the South will use about 40% percent less energy, and a typical new furnace in the North will use about 20 percent  less than before national standards were established in the late 1980s.

According to DOE’s analysis, the improvements to the air conditioner and heat pump standards will save 156 billion kilowatt hours of electricity over 30 years, or about enough to meet the total electricity needs of all the households in Indiana for three years, while delivering net savings of more than $4.2 billion to U.S. consumers. The new furnace standards will save 31 billion therms of natural gas, or about enough natural gas over 32 years to heat all the homes in New York State for more than 11 years and save consumers $14.5 billion.

2. Consumers Want Efficiency

Even in TVs. According to research firm DisplaySearch, consumers are more interested in energy efficiency than 3D when buying LED TVs.

Paul Gray, DisplaySearch Director of TV Electronics Research, noted that in DisplaySearch’s Global TV Replacement Study, “When compared to 3D, the survey revealed far heavier consideration for energy consumption than 3D.”

“Consumers are attuned to fuel consumption in cars, and our Global TV Replacement Study showed they are equally mindful of electricity usage when choosing a TV,” says Gray. “The benefits are clear, and it is surprising that TV set makers do not market this advantage.”

Now maybe they will?

3. Innovations Abound

It may be a while before we see this stuff, but here are just three green tech innovations that recently caught my eye. One is from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who have created a solar panel by printing tiny, lightweight layers of electrodes and semiconductors on a piece of paper. According to a report on, the team’s “aim is to find a clean source of energy with the reliability and low cost of the power grid, but which is also flexible and cheap enough to be used on remote devices and in the developing world.”

Another innovation, reported on, is from  Duke University grad student who has come up with a way to double the battery life in Wi-Fi devices, without any changes needed on the device itself.

Essentially, the technique regulates how long and when client radios sleep, so that data transfers can be scheduled more efficiently. … The researchers found that the scheduling technique, dubbed SleepWell, resulted in energy reductions of 38% to 51% across a variety of online applications, including YouTube, Pandora and Internet radio, and TCP bulk data transfers.

Here’s another from George Tech computer scientists who are pulling small amounts of energy out of the air.

All very cool stuff. Just think of the energy-efficiency applications of thin, affordable solar and more efficient Wi-Fi devices.

4. Building Automation Will Take Off

Energy management company Schneider Electric and networking giant Cisco and teaming up on building automation systems.

As reported by Managing Automation:

The duo is collaborating to combine Schneider’s EcoStruxure architecture—which connects power sources, data centers, processes and machines, building controls, and security systems such as surveillance cameras—with Cisco’s EnergyWise switch. The latter is said to manage power consumption of IT devices such as PCs, phones, and printers that are connected via an IP network.

By adding IT devices into the energy management mix, organizations will have a better handle on what is sapping electricity in buildings, Schneider officials said.

IT is a large drain on a building’s energy use, so this partnership makes a huge amount of sense.

5. More GreenTech Jobs?

President Obama would like to think so. According to Politico:

Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers suggests 225,000 clean energy jobs were either created or preserved through the third quarter of 2010 thanks to more than $80 billion in the economic stimulus package. But those are estimates at best.

Monthly Labor Department employment reports say nothing about the new clean energy workforce, while an effort to document how many Americans actually make a living in the “green collar” field may not be done by November 2012.

The White House figures 825,000 Americans should be building electric car batteries, retrofitting homes or doing other green collar work by the end of 2012. But that too is an extrapolation.

The green tech jobs have to explode sometime, though, don’t they? gives take on what green tech jobs are hot and what they pay.

Editor’s Note: This column comes to us via a cross post from our partners over at GreenTech Advocates. Author credit goes to Steven Castle.

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