Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970, and that got us thinking about how households used energy back then. What did they use it for? Do we follow the same conventional wisdom for saving energy in our homes today, even though there are some obvious differences in the types of devices we use now? We were curious to dig in and see how energy use has changed over the past 35+ years, and how that change shapes our efforts to conserve.
Bill Gates, billionaire philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, marked several items off his 2015 to-do list when he announced the creation of two coalitions (one of international governments, the other of billionaire investors) for investing money in developing renewable energy innovations, while pledging one billion dollars of his own money to the effort.
The past year included many successes, including quite a few that we can build on in the new year. Among the notable developments in 2015:
Energy efficiency comes into a house from many directions: standards make appliances, equipment, and electronics more efficient, building codes ensure the right amount of insulation and ventilation, utility programs help families manage their energy use, and smart technology saves money with programmable thermostats and energy-sipping LED lighting. So it may come as a surprise that, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), on-site residential energy consumption actually grew 8.9% from 1980 to 2009.
Energy efficiency improvements provide value over and above utility bill savings. ACEEE’s new report Recognizing the Value of Energy Efficiency’s Multiple Benefits describes the gains outside of energy savings created by energy efficiency improvements. Many of these benefits accrue to residential and business energy consumers. Additional benefits accrue in the form of cost reductions to the utility system, resulting in lower costs for all customers.
Much attention has been recently focused on the gap between the predicted and actual energy savings achieved by residential energy retrofit projects and programs, including low-income weatherization programs and customer-funded programs such as Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®.
Evaluating how countries use energy provides valuable information necessary to identify energy waste, improve energy systems, and promote smarter economic growth. An efficient economy is one that minimizes its energy needs while providing better access to goods and services.
For the past 35 years at ACEEE, we’ve informed policymakers and the public to advance energy efficiency in the United States through in -depth technical and policy analysis.
In 1973, the Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed an oil embargo that increased energy prices, spurring efforts to conserve energy and improve energy efficiency in the US and worldwide. In 1980, energy efficiency researchers formed the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. As we turn 35 years old this year, we thought it would be useful to look at energy efficiency progress over the past 35 years, and to also look at possible and recommended pathways for the next 35 years.
Huge Advances in Energy Efficiency Spurred Economic Growth, Jobs, Lowered Bills; Consumers and Businesses Saved About $800 Billion Due to Energy Efficiency Last Year.
Energy efficiency retrofits for multifamily buildings offer a host of benefits beyond energy savings to building owners and tenants. The problem is that efficiency programs that spur investment in this kind of work are not always assessed fairly.