Before defining energy efficiency it is instructive to define what energy provides. Units of energy are not valued in themselves; rather the economic value of energy is derived from the services that it provides: keeping the lights on, heating a room or transporting goods and people to a destination. Therefore, energy efficiency is a measure of the energy used in providing a particular level of energy services.
Secondly, a general paradigm in which to consider energy efficiency is not one whereby technological innovation offers energy savings that are then limited by high costs, social inertia or political maneuvering. Energy efficiency is instead a complete analysis of how the technical, political and social aspects of some societal undertaking interact both within the specific activity and with other activities. Therefore, some of the most promising mechanisms for energy efficiency may be video-conferencing over the Internet, a firm's drive to ensure lights are switched off in unoccupied rooms or a fashion for individuals to commute by bicycle.
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