updated 4/15/2005 2:38:46 PM ET 2005-04-15T18:38:46

Americans should expect high prices for gasoline and other energy sources in the years ahead, as the United States consumes energy faster than the country can produce it, U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman warned Friday.

High energy prices, especially for gasoline and other transportation fuels, are straining family budgets and the profits of many businesses, Bodman told a group of energy company officials, industry representatives and other energy experts.

The problem “has been years in the making and it is going to be years in solving,” he said.

“A simple explanation of this very complex problem is that we’re using energy faster than we’re producing it,” he said.

As a long-term solution, Bodman said Congress should pass comprehensive energy legislation that aims to boost domestic oil, gasoline, natural gas and other energy supplies.

He also said the United States needs more investment in new oil refineries, nuclear power plants, pipelines and electric transmission lines.

The most accessible source of new energy may be the energy Americans currently consume and in many instances waste, Bodman said in his speech to the annual meeting of the United States Energy Association.

“The average American home loses between 10 and 50 percent of its energy through inefficient lighting and appliances and inadequate insulation,” he said.

Bodman said the government should do more to encourage consumers to buy appliances that use less energy and choose cars and trucks that get better gasoline mileage.

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