Want to save jobs in America? Think energy efficiency. America is rightfully focused on conserving and finding new sources of energy, but many may not realize that our nation has an immediate opportunity to make existing American businesses more competitive and save millions of dollars annually by implementing energy efficiency technologies in our commercial and industrial facilities. The energy savings can translate directly into increased bottom-line revenues that preserve positions in our existing job base.

Indeed, energy consumption is one of the largest operational costs of American businesses to the tune of more than $1 trillion on a yearly basis. Everyone agrees that Americans need to consume less energy at work and home. Perhaps the dilemma has been framed up the best by Jim Parks, Energy Efficiency and Customer R&D Manager at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, one of the largest municipal utility districts in the nation. "The media tends to tout renewable energy as if it is a silver bullet solution; however, I believe in a silver buckshot approach, one in which multiple solutions are moved forward. If we truly want to effectively address our energy dilemma, we need to curb our energy consumption appetites by focusing on the implementation of energy efficiency technologies," he said.

"Shovel-ready" energy efficiency technologies exist today that, if rapidly deployed, would help American businesses achieve a 10 percent to 20 percent energy savings over a period of months. For every percent of energy saved, American businesses would add $11 billion to their bottom line. That translates to $200 billion a year that would be stripped out of the country's operating costs. These savings would make American businesses immediately more competitive and preserve jobs. An energy efficiency movement would also concurrently clean up the planet and reduce the burden on utility companies of having to produce more future energy.

We have an opportunity to use government stimulus, taxpayer and investment dollars to re-tool our factories and commercial and industrial facilities with shovel-ready technologies that could refresh and improve the energy efficiency of virtually every appliance, every industrial component and every lighting device. These technologies would result in paybacks for American businesses measured in months versus renewable energy paybacks that are currently measured over multiple years with subsidies.

Meanwhile, Americans can't just bring more energy online to feed ever-growing demands without addressing our energy consumption practices. Whether in the home or at work, Americans voraciously consume energy like no other nation in the world. For example, consider the number of televisions and computer monitors in each American household. These appliances traditionally consumed up to 2 percent of energy in the average household, and that figure is now up to 7 percent and growing to as much as 10 percent with the latest generation of high-definition and flat-panel varieties. Energy efficiency built into the appliance is the best answer to mitigate this consumption growth.

Investing in the development of energy efficiency technologies can dramatically improve energy conditions in our residential, commercial and industrial environments – all without dramatically changing our lifestyle. In the 1970s, refrigerators served as the major energy offender in the household, and the units themselves were considerably smaller than their modern counterparts. Through research and advancements in energy efficiency, today's refrigerators are considerably larger, use far less energy and arguably have improved our lifestyle with more room to cost-effectively stock up on foods. The energy savings from today's energy efficient refrigerators alone is greater than entire nuclear output of this country, and we have the ability as Americans to do that over and over again by investing in and implementing energy efficient technologies.

A prime example of a company making a difference on the energy efficiency front is SpectraSensors from its Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., location. SpectraSensors, an American River Ventures portfolio company, is the leading manufacturer of sensors for the industrial process and environmental monitoring markets helping to reduce greenhouse emissions. SpectraSensors develops technology that provides real time monitoring of corrosives in natural gas pipelines, allowing them to run safer and cleaner. Their technology also helps monitor and improve the efficiency of commercial aircraft traffic routing, resulting in less fuel consumption and reduced levels of greenhouse gases.

In fact, with estimates of trimming 30 seconds off of each flight through improved weather monitoring from the deployment of SpectraSensors technology, government agencies have estimated that it would reduce CO2 emissions by 2.5 million tons each year and save $1.9 billion annually in fuel cost for the aviation industry. Weather has a huge impact on the aviation industry. In fact, the 2010 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration budget states that last year weather delays cost the aviation industry $6 billion. SpectraSensors is already beginning the deployment of this system in 2009, working closely with United Parcel Service as well as Southwest Airlines to make these savings a reality.

SpectraSensors is also a technology spin-off of the NASA/Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory, showing how close cooperation from university, government and the private sector can make significant strides in this effort.

California plays a unique role in helping redefine America's energy landscape, particularly in Sacramento where government policy, university research and corporate innovation are actively being shaped. California has an opportunity to take our government stimulus, taxpayer and investment dollars and put them toward companies that are investing in energy efficiency technologies. We have a strong technology base here that supports these types of companies, and California industries will be the early adopters of these technologies. We can be the first to reduce our operating costs and preserve jobs, and every other state and country in the world will want access to these technologies to follow suit.

Following this approach and investing now in the implementation of energy efficiency technologies will bring revenue back to California, preserve jobs and reduce our energy burden all at the same time. Legislation and utility rebates need to openly embrace energy efficiency technologies. The clock is ticking, and there is no time, or energy, to waste.

The above opinion piece is from an independent writer and is not connected with Greentech Media News. The views expressed here are those of the author and are not endorsed by Greentech Media.