They don’t have the sex appeal of windmills or the cool factor of solar panels but cost a fraction of the price. In fact, their methods can be as low-tech as plugging a leaky air duct.

Governments and utility companies across the Washington region are starting to roll out new “energy-efficiency” campaigns with the potential to lower bills, carbon emissions and the area’s dependence on foreign oil without building a single coal or nuclear plant. Energy experts say that they can reap large benefits by encouraging people to retrofit homes with changes as simple as new shower heads, light bulbs and refrigerators.

Efficiency programs were popular in the 1980s and early 1990s but receded to the background during the more recent era of GOP deregulation.

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