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Whenever I start my Toyota Prius, I note one number above all else. It's not the time, not the odometer, not even the gas left in the tank. My eyes go straight to the car's average miles per gallon since last fill-up. If I don't exit our vehicle with that number higher than what my wife left it, I have failed. Driving has become a game—and by playing it, I save money and conserve energy.

If only my competitive streak led to greater efficiencies in my far more significant uses of energy: the electricity and gas that light and heat our home. Instead, we live in the dark (figuratively speaking, of course). Our appliances offer no hint of how much electricity they use; my furnace and its associated ductwork operate at some unknown level of efficiency. Monthly bills provide no breakdown of where and when the energy went.

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