Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's legacy is the Global Warming Act of 2006, or AB-32. This bold measure will ensure that California clamps down on greenhouse gas emissions by about 25 percent of existing consumption rates or those equivalent to gases released in 1990.

The current approach to achieve this milestone has moved far beyond discovering new ways to create energy. In fact, school children, families, businesses and governments are focusing on how to use less power and water.

It makes good sense to examine how to cut power usage, rather than concentrate on how to make more power from the sun, wind, geothermal or ocean wave technologies. And becoming water-smart during droughts is a no-brainer.

Schools, businesses and homeowners are opting to get an energy audit to see where they are spending energy and water and how to cut back consumption and save money.

In some cases, simply replacing all incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent bulbs, remembering to shut lights off when you leave the room or fixing leaking faucets are significant steps in the right direction.

In southern California, like elsewhere in the southern half of the United States, maintaining air conditioners by having them serviced twice a year so that the motors are running efficiently is crucial. The technological advancements made in fans and refrigeration over the past decade have helped owners use far less power and achieve significantly higher efficiencies. Federal and state rebate programs are encouraging homeowners and businesses to upgrade old air conditioning units.

Setting the thermostats at home or in the workplace at 77 degrees Fahrenheit sounds high, but if you are in Palm Springs, Phoenix or Dallas and the outside air temperature is 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s a comfortable temperature to work or relax in. And by adjusting the thermostat up slightly, homeowners and businesses can save a bundle of money.

Many offices are allowing their workers a more causal summertime dress code so that office temperatures can be slightly warmer. In addition, businesses are ensuring that all workers shut off computers, copy machines and turn off lights at the end of the day, especially on Fridays.

Homeowners have as many as 40 plug-in devices that suck power even in stand-by mode. These devices suck billions of dollars of "phantom electricity" and consequently burn millions of tons of greenhouse gases that are wasteful and harmful to our environment. Phantom electricity is easy to correct, all we need to do is change a few habits, which in turn can reduce our home expenses.

What you can do

Purchase power strip bars and plug-in your televisions, tabletop cable boxes or game boxes, and when you go to sleep at night or leave for work or school the next morning, shut off the power switch on each strip bar. You’ll be amazed at the difference on the next power utility bill. Not only will energy consumption be reduced, but your monthly utility charge will be reduced by as much as 15 percent.

California has the eighth mightiest economy on the globe with 38 million people and the most intensive agriculture system on the planet. The population is projected to surpass 55 million people by 2050. The current water system was designed for about 18 million people.

We don’t have an option about becoming water-smart. It’s fact of life. The water rates have gone up across the state by about 40 percent over the past couple years, and they will continue to rise. The state is raising $11 billion for two new water reservoirs in the coming years, and the new rates will help pay for it.

Australia has become water-smart very quickly. They have been lambasted by global warming and taken drastic measures to protect their population of 20 million people.

California leads the way with law to trim energy consumption
California, which learned some conservation lessons from Australia, is setting an energy efficiency example to follow.