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October 30, 2014 - 4:07pm

By Steven Nadel, Executive Director

Every few years, a new paper comes out about the rebound effect and the issue receives some short-term attention. (When a consumer or business buys an efficient car or air conditioner, they may use their energy-efficient equipment a little more often or may spend some of their energy bill savings on things that use energy—these are examples of rebound effects.) ACEEE wrote a paper on the rebound effect in 2012, concluding that both direct and indirect rebound effects exist, but they tend to be modest. Overall, we found that rebound may average about 20%, meaning that 80% of the savings from energy efficiency programs and policies register in terms of reduced energy use, while the 20% rebound contributes to increased consumer amenities (for example, more comfortable homes) as well as to a larger economy.

Recently, E2e and the Breakthrough...

October 30, 2014 - 11:22am

By Anna Chittum, Visiting Fellow

We’ve heard a lot lately about some large energy-using customers like large factories and retail chains seeking to opt out of energy efficiency programs. But what about the states and utility service territories where these customers are opting-in instead? It’s happening. It turns out that when efficiency programs are done right, customers are clamoring to participate.

Even though energy efficiency investments are highly cost effective and offer tremendous additional benefits, making such investments does not come naturally to some business owners. There are many reasons for this, but a critical barrier is that some companies lack the internal resources to identify efficiency investments. Companies may also find that even if a highly cost-effective efficiency opportunity is found, the return on investment is insufficient to satisfy their internal requirements. Savings are left on the table.

We know that savings are left unrealized because when customers opt out of energy efficiency programs and claim that they’ve made all cost-effective investments, those programs are still able to find cost-effective savings opportunities at the company’s site. Energy efficiency programs can provide access to technical expertise...

October 28, 2014 - 11:28am

By Matthew McNerney, Research Assistant, Economic Program

This winter, ACEEE, in partnership with Energi Insurance Services, will host a second gathering of select members of the Small Lenders Energy Efficiency Community (SLEEC) in Washington, D.C. The initial SLEEC convening in October 2013 brought together small- to medium-size lenders to discuss strategies for expanding activity in the market for energy efficiency financing. Building off the success of that first meeting, the second SLEEC gathering will focus exclusively on financing in the multifamily sector, a traditionally underserved but recently active space in the energy efficiency world.

The goal of the upcoming SLEEC meeting is to discuss how recent developments inform the lender perspective on the size, attractiveness, and viability of the finance market for multifamily efficiency. We chose to address multifamily this year because potential savings are phenomenal at an estimated $3.4 billion per annum, and multifamily has traditionally been characterized by the label “hard to reach” due to significant barriers to entry. Single-family residential, large commercial, and MUSH (municipal, universities, schools, and hospitals) markets pose fewer barriers and have therefore been...

October 16, 2014 - 5:25pm

By Annie Gilleo, State Policy Research Analyst

We spend a lot of time here at ACEEE with numbers. We calculate energy savings, efficiency investments, and jobs. Even with all this data at our fingertips, though, I’m always most curious to see the numbers we produce every fall in the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. This will be the eighth year we’ve ranked states on their adoption of policies that encourage energy efficiency, and while some results are easy to predict, there are always a few surprises. As the launch of the 2014 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard draws near, here are just a few numbers to whet your appetite:

51: Number of “states” we rank in the State Scorecard. Thought there were only 50 states in the U.S.? Well you’re right, but we include the District of Columbia too!

3: Number of U.S. territories scored in the 2014 State Scorecard. For the first time, we’ve worked with our contacts in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to bring you up-to-date information on their energy efficiency initiatives.

31: Number of metrics we assess to generate state scores. These metrics span seven policy areas and cover everything from goals to reduce vehicle miles travelled to incentives for ...

October 8, 2014 - 3:28pm

By Glee Murray, Associate Director for Outreach

Anniversaries serve to remind us where we’ve come from, how much we’ve accomplished, and where we’re headed. What better way to launch ACEEE’s 35th anniversary as an organization (coming up in 2015) than by paying tribute to Dr. Arthur Rosenfeld, who was instrumental in our creation and guides our vision still? Art is our founder and is currently distinguished scientist emeritus at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and professor emeritus of physics, University of California, Berkeley.

We asked seven leaders in the energy efficiency community to help us make a video honoring Art at our recent Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. The stories they told and the history they shared with the sold-out crowd inspired Art to deliver an impromptu remembrance to “1,000 of his closest friends,” as he put it. He recalled the pivotal point in his career when he shifted from high-energy physics to developing the field that became energy efficiency. And, yes, his mesmerizing present-at-the creation story about the origin of ACEEE involved Jimmy Carter and that dang sweater!

We are indebted to these seven energy efficiency luminaries for sharing their memories and heartfelt thoughts about Art in the tribute video:

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October 8, 2014 - 10:00am

By Ethan Rogers, Senior Manager, Industry

Efficiency has become intelligent. We’ve always known that waste is stupid and that efficiency is smart, but now, many energy measures can learn, adapt, and self-optimize. It’s called “intelligent efficiency,” and it’s going to transform how energy efficiency is provided, achieved, and measured. We’re so excited about its potential that we are hosting an entirely new conference on the subject in November. The first ACEEE Intelligent Efficiency Conference will be held on November 16 - 18, at the Hyatt Regency – Embarcadero, San Francisco. Speakers will include experts and thought leaders from the information and communication technologies (ICT), energy efficiency, utility, and end-user communities. We’re expecting this to be a big ICT-energy efficiency matchmaking event that will facilitate intelligent efficiency going mainstream!

If you’d like to learn more about intelligent efficiency and our conference, we are hosting a webinar on October 21st. In this webinar, Chris Hankin of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) will moderate a panel comprised of Indy Ratnathicam, marketing and...

September 30, 2014 - 2:16pm

By Lauren Ross, Senior Analyst, Utility, State and Local Policy

When ACEEE launched the Multifamily Energy Savings Project two years ago, we offered one of the first estimates of potential energy savings – $3.4 billion – for multifamily buildings, a traditionally underserved market. Since then, we continue to report on opportunities and challenges for achieving these savings. Recently, there’ve been a few major wins for the multifamily community that are expected to make it easier for building owners and financiers to make investments in energy efficiency.

Last month, Fannie Mae released the first nationally representative sample of energy and water data for multifamily properties across the United States. The Multifamily Energy and Water Market Research Survey provides an insight into multifamily buildings’ annual spending on energy and water as well as other important trends and metrics. The report also responds to the lack of information on energy use in submarkets in the multifamily sector by providing separate breakdowns for affordable and market-rate units, tenant and owner-paid utility bills, and by building size and other important building features.

The report also reinforces what many have...

September 11, 2014 - 11:21am

By Marianne DiMascio, Outreach Director, Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP)

One of the great inventions of our time – the modern refrigerator – will get an efficiency makeover when new national efficiency standards go into effect on September 15, reducing energy use of most refrigerators and freezers by about 20-25%. The new standards take effect 100 years after the first modern refrigerators were mass-produced for general use. Before that time, consumers used iceboxes (literally boxes with ice) to keep their food cold, but food safety was an issue. When the ‘electric refrigerator’ was finally introduced it was more than just a convenience, it was an invention that saved people’s lives. (See this 1926 advertisement from the Electric League of Pittsburgh). Refrigerators have evolved considerably since the 1900s both in appearance and function. The early units placed the cooling device on top of a small boxy unit while today’s sleeker multi-door units place the cooling units unseen on the bottom.

The new efficiency measures are the latest in a series of standards over 40 years that have helped to significantly bring down the cost of running a typical refrigerator. A fridge...

September 10, 2014 - 10:18am

By Lowell Ungar, Senior Policy Advisor

“Washington, D.C.” has become a synonym for “dysfunction” in the last few years, prompting many who care about energy efficiency policy to turn their attention to states. But that view is due to a focus on Congress and on President Obama’s interactions with Congress, where the epithet is mostly deserved. If you look beyond the white marble dome to the federal agencies, there is lots of action on energy efficiency. Turns out, previous congresses have left a lot of unfinished business, notably from the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, signed by President George W. Bush. Federal agencies under President Obama have, for the most part, been turning those legislative provisions into real savings for the American people.

The economic and environmental impacts are impressive. In Government Works: Federal Agency Actions on Energy Efficiency, we looked at four sets of actions on energy efficiency that agencies have taken since 2009 or could do in the next few years (most of which are already underway). We estimate that collectively these policies could save the American people $2.6 trillion (for sticklers, that is net present value of savings after needed investments for measures taken through 2040). They could cut cumulative carbon dioxide emissions by 34 billion metric...

September 4, 2014 - 9:43am

By Meegan Kelly, Intern

EPA’s Clean Power Plan outlines four building blocks, each of which represent a category of measures that states can use to meet the first-ever federal regulation for reducing carbon dioxide from existing power plants. By including energy efficiency, EPA created a path for states to reduce both greenhouse gases and consumer energy bills, but the agency overlooked combined heat and power (CHP), a readily available energy resource that would provide states with substantial energy savings.

For a policy measure to be included as a building block under EPA’s proposal, the energy savings it provides should be cost-effective, adequately demonstrated, and there should be lots of it. Recently, we posted a blog explaining why the agency should have included building codes in its four building blocks. For similar reasons, EPA should also consider CHP when setting emission reduction goals and as a clearly defined compliance option for states.

CHP uses fuel more efficiently than other forms of power generation, providing both energy and environmental advantages over separate heat and power systems. In a...