India loses roughly 40 per cent of electricity generated, thanks to inefficient transmission and distribution systems. Theft and pilferage siphon off what could otherwise generate employment, output and growth. Experts say that if we only had a bank of baseline data that would be digitised and on tap, specially designed software would help detect losses location-wise. This would make it easier to rectify lapses and overhaul supply lines to minimise transmission and distribution losses. A committee has been set up to generate baseline data required to put in place a feasible audit and accounting system. In 2002, a bureau of energy efficiency was set up and an action plan formulated. An audit found that 23 to 46 per cent energy could be saved with better end-use energy management in buildings. An expert committee on integrated energy policy in 2006 said that in the next 25 years energy efficiency and conservation would be the most important sources of increase in supply for industry, agriculture and transport, commercial and domestic use. Simple initiatives towards saving energy include replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps. The recently announced eight-point climate action plan includes taking up energy efficiency as an important way to improve energy availability, but a more detailed, target-oriented plan would have to be spelt out for different ministries to implement. China, for instance, has a specific 10-point energy efficiency programme to increase future potential through saving and smart adaptation of new technology. India’s future energy planning strategies would have to factor in efficiency, since the country has a poor record in this respect. Energy efficiency initiatives tend to be directed towards urban areas, where new products and projects get tested out and adopted quickly. Modern green building technology would make a big difference in construction-heavy urban India, but there is ample scope to apply it to initiatives in traditional sectors where they could have significant impact. With a quarter of the population yet to receive a regular supply of power, adopting energy-efficient techniques and practices will go a long way in rectifying the deficiency. Using energy efficiently is not the same as energy conservation. It is to make energy use smarter so that we get more out of existing potential supplies while looking to develop new resources. Sharply improving energy efficiency in the economy is a relatively short-term solution to meeting the looming crisis in power. But it would need smart management and serious political will to implement such improvements across the board.