Maintenance of homeostasis is pivotal to all forms of life. In the case of plants, homeostasis is constantly threatened by the inability to escape environmental fluctuations, and therefore sensitive mechanisms must have evolved to allow rapid perception of environmental cues and concomitant modification of growth and developmental patterns for adaptation and survival. Re-establishment of homeostasis in response to environmental perturbations requires reprogramming of metabolism and gene expression to shunt energy sources from growth-related biosynthetic processes to defense, acclimation, and, ultimately, adaptation. Failure to mount an initial 'emergency' response may result in nutrient deprivation and irreversible senescence and cell death. Early signaling events largely determine the capacity of plants to orchestrate a successful adaptive response. Early events, on the other hand, are likely to be shared by different conditions through the generation of similar signals and before more specific responses are elaborated. Recent studies lend credence to this hypothesis, underpinning the importance of a shared energy signal in the transcriptional response to various types of stress. Energy deficiency is associated with most environmental perturbations due to their direct or indirect deleterious impact on photosynthesis and/or respiration. Several systems are known to have evolved for monitoring the available resources and triggering metabolic, growth, and developmental decisions accordingly. In doing so, energy-sensing systems regulate gene expression at multiple levels to allow flexibility in the diversity and the kinetics of the stress response.