Although the U.S. economy has almost tripled in size over the past 40 years, oil use is up by only about one percent, according to Ralph Cavanagh of the National Resources Defense Council. And since 2000, U.S. use of electricity has grown more slowly than the population for the first time since it was harnessed a century ago. Overall, adjusted for economic growth and inflation, the country has cut its energy use by more than 50 percent since 1973, and that pattern of increased efficiency
shows no signs of slowing, says Cavanagh. He credits better coordination of incentives and efficiency standards, which has lowered the electricity consumption of the average refrigerator by more than 70 percent since the mid-1970s, for example.