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Energy Conservation Technicians

History

At the start of the 20th century, energy costs were only a fraction of the total expense of operating homes, offices, and factories. Coal and petroleum were abundant and relatively inexpensive. Low energy prices contributed to the emergence of the United States as the leading industrialized nation as well as the world's largest energy consumer.

Because petroleum was inexpensive and could easily produce heat, steam, electricity, and fuel, it displaced coal for many purposes. As a result, the nation's coal mining industry declined, and the United States became dependent on foreign oil for half of its energy supply.

In 1973, when many foreign oil-producing nations stopped shipments of oil to the United States and other Western countries, fuel costs increased dramatically. In the 2000s, political instability in the Middle East—where many of the top oil-producing countries are located—caused fuel prices to once again rise significantly. Although the U.S. has become more energy independent in recent years as a result of hydraulic fracturing (the extraction of natural gas from shale rock deep below the earth), continuing uncertainty about foreign energy supplies and a growing awareness about environmental pollution have fueled the development of energy conservation techniques in the United States. The emphasis on discovering new sources of energy, developing more efficient methods and equipment to use energy, and reducing the amount of wasted energy has created demand for energy conservation technicians.

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