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Originally published Monday, July 22, 2013 at 8:15 PM

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Saving energy to aid economy, leader of national group says

The Alliance to Save Energy is holding a meeting of state and local leaders Tuesday to discuss ways to cut the nation’s energy use.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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When it comes to saving energy, many of us think of turning out the lights, driving less and making personal sacrifices as consumers.

While that might be part of it, saving energy also means jobs, says Kateri Callahan, president of Alliance to Save Energy, a national consortium of energy experts, businesses and government leaders.

The alliance has launched a campaign to double the nation’s energy savings by 2030 and will conduct an energy-saving meeting of the minds in Seattle on Tuesday with Gov. Jay Inslee, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Seattle City Light general manager and CEO Jorge Carrasco and others.

According to Callahan, doubling the productivity the U.S. gets from its energy would change the composition of the economy, if the savings were redirected toward labor-intensive jobs in industry and service.

If the United States invested $166 billion in energy-efficient vehicles and industrial equipment, and energy-saving transportation systems, it could lower the overall U.S. energy cost by $494 billion a year, she said.

It also would cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 4 billion tons.

The nation would also be less susceptible to price spikes in oil and gas elsewhere in the world, according to the alliance’s report.

But the energy savings start with things many in this area have done for years — home weatherization, for example.

Older homes may have no insulation, windows that let the heat out or poorly functioning furnaces.

Electricity is inexpensive here, compared with many other places in the U.S., so electric-baseboard heat is still common, though not efficient, said Scott Thomsen, City Light spokesman. The low cost sometimes makes people less motivated to cut down on usage, he said.

Callahan’s charge is to encourage governments to try to effect changes, such as reducing use of that kind of electric heat.

“We want to get localities and states involved in the goal,’’ Callahan said. “Invest now, save money over the long run.’’

Nancy Bartley: or 206-464-8522

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