How much more energy efficient can we get? Lots more, says ACEEE

Wed, 2015-09-23 06:00 -- SCC Staff

The time, money and effort invested in energy efficiency has paid off in a number of ways. The growth of electricity demand has slowed down and less energy is wasted as homes, offices, businesses and industries have become more attuned to using energy wisely -- while also reducing their power bills. The economy and the environment have benefitted too.

However Dan York, in a blog for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a Council Advisor, asks the question: "Have we reached the limit of how much energy efficiency we can squeeze out of our economy?" His answer is that while there are challenges to greater energy efficiency achievements, substantially more energy savings are possible.

How much more energy can we save?
According to ACEEE research, there are 18 energy efficiency measures that together could provide a total of 22% more in residential, commercial and industrial energy efficiency in 2030. As ACEEE notes, the number is a mid-range estimate and does not include every possible energy saving measure or program. But it does identify the top five measures:

  • Large reductions in key targeted plug loads
  • Conservation voltage reduction
  • New construction programs
  • Comprehensive commercial building retrofits
  • Smart manufacturing

So, what's next?
The compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) has, as the blog says "…been the workhorse of efficiency program portfolios." But ACEEE's research found that times have changed and although there are a number of ways to increase energy efficiency, there is no single dominant tool right now -- such as the CFL -- to anchor utility efficiency program portfolios. Without that single tool, electric utilities and program administrators will need to depend on a range of measures and attract more people willing to participate in them -- and be prepared to include underserved market segments such as small business and multi-family housing.

As ACEEE says, that diversification means energy efficiency has entered a "new era." But there are still plenty of opportunities for additional energy savings.

Related articles:
Energy efficiency: A gateway to big smart cities initiatives
Member spotlight 5.2.14: Itron wins in Japan…CH2M HILL work feted… Schneider teams with Barcelona Council… ACEEE sees big payback from energy efficiency
Grand Central Station: bringing energy efficiency to an American icon