Efficiency Potential & Market Analysis
During the holiday season, we are inundated with marketing messages as well as goods and services — hallmarks of our market economy. Popular products include holiday lights, once made only with incandescent bulbs but now mostly with LEDs. This shift to efficient LEDs is an offshoot of a much larger market transformation in lighting, which has saved vast amounts of energy.
Our new research reveals that sales of learning thermostats, a very popular form of intelligent efficiency, are expected to be three times as high this year as they were in 2013. This surge suggests broad future use of technologies that can save dramatic amounts of energy.
Given the importance of small businesses to our national economy, ACEEE has examined successful utility program practices in the small commercial segment. We find there are still significant energy efficiency opportunities. Our new paper describes effective program strategies.
One of the distinctions we often make between energy and energy efficiency is that energy acts more like a cost, and energy efficiency acts more like an investment. Like most investments, energy efficiency works by using an up front expense to generate a stream of economic benefits. Every year, our Energy Efficiency Finance Forum conference looks at ways to manage these up-front costs and how to use that stream of benefits to turn energy efficiency into a viable investment market.
There are over 25 million small enterprises that form the backbone of our national economy. They are critical to the health of local economies, generating well over half of net new private-sector jobs, according to the US Small Business Administration. Many are home-based firms with few employees, but many also occupy commercial retail space. The small business sector uses over 30% of all commercial space, more than 20 billion square feet of buildings to be heated, cooled, and lit up.
Energy efficiency is a proven and cost-effective strategy to reduce pollution and can help states comply with environmental regulations, including EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Even with the Supreme Court stay of the rule, there are many reasons to move forward with energy efficiency.
In October 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its Clean Power Plan (CPP) final rule, regulating greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. Now that the final rule has been released, policymakers, state governments, utility and power plant owners, and other stakeholders are weighing their options to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) from the power sector for compliance with the rule.
Even when the economy is doing well, economic growth and job creation always seem to be at the center of focus for policymakers at every level of government. So it’s only natural that when energy efficiency policies and programs are being discussed one of the questions that often comes is how will proposed initiatives affect jobs.
Energy efficiency has come a long way. From its roots in the energy crises of the 1970s, it has grown and evolved to become an integral part of our energy landscape. Examples of energy efficiency advances are ubiquitous and often invisible. We see the results of such advances in the slow growth of electricity demand in recent years. Our homes, offices, businesses, and factories continue to become more energy efficient due to innovation in technologies and applications.
Energy efficiency programs serving utility customers have grown rapidly over the past decade. While the rates of growth may have slowed in the last couple of years, most states have policies in place to achieve higher and higher energy savings from utility energy efficiency programs. In order to achieve high energy savings, program administrators can follow two key strategies: (1) get more customers to participate, and (2) get more savings from each participating customer.