70's living roomPhoto: army.archWe’ve come a long way, baby. Maybe in energy efficiency of products, but not in reducing our energy use. A new study shows that despite our advances in technology for appliances from refrigerators to televisions — technology that has helped cut the energy consumption of appliances by as much as half — we still consume as much energy as we did in the early 1970s.

That’s right, we haven’t budged on how much our meters read at the end of each month, despite our refrigerators using about 51 percent less electricity. Why? Because our homes are bigger, and we buy more stuff that requires energy to function. So the benefits of our improved technology is washed out by our love of our new technology. Knowing the improvements are a wash, what does that means for energy conservation over the next 40 years?

Experts say that our big houses and power-hungry gadgets negate all our efficiency gains, reports The Washington Post. If we’ve made progress in one area only to have it canceled out in another, can we expect to make any real gains over the next 40 years? Quite possibly. It seems we’ve hit a point where there’s only so much house a person cares to have, and only so many things we care to own. We’re seeing trends towards smaller housesall-in-one electronics, and monitoring how much energy our homes consume. Perhaps we’ve hit a plateau of sorts.

Read the full story from our friends at Treehugger.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.