The 21st century has ushered in a new era of measuring personal progress. With wearable technologies, we can now collect more personal data than we ever thought possible, from heart rate and step count to standing time and sleep quality. The ability to measure what we want to manage in real time has brought new meaning to the phrase “big data.” Improved tools for data collection and analysis have not been limited to health metrics. Technologies for collecting energy data in our homes and buildings have improved, producing more and better data than ever before.
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.
There are many tried-and-true tools in the energy efficiency toolbox. Programs in the utility sector that offer customers a variety of rebates, incentives, and technical services totaled more than $7 billion in 2014. In the private market, energy service performance contracts totaled more than $4 billion. And state energy offices loaned more than $74 million in revolving loans.
Commercial-sector energy use in the US increased by 63% from 1979 to 2012, rising from total source energy use of 10.6 quads in 1979 to a peak of 18.4 quads in 2008 before declining to 17.4 quads in 2012. This growth can largely be attributed to a corresponding increase in commercial building floor area, which grew by 70% over the same period. But that is only part of the story. As the graph below illustrates, as floor area has trended upward over time, energy use per square foot has gone up and down, peaking in the 1999-2003 period but declining since then.
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.
Ever wondered just how much energy we consume to power our economy? To keep our buildings working, machines humming, and wheels running? Are we really energy smart as a country?
Electric energy efficiency programs have grown substantially in the last ten years. As they’ve grown, leaders have emerged. In our new report, Big Savers: Experiences and Recent History of Program Administrators Achieving High Levels of Energy Savings, we showcase 14 of these leaders. The report is not an exhaustive review of every leading utility or program administrator, nor is it a ranking system. Instead, we tell the story of these 14 through analysis of performance data and discussions with program managers.
“How much energy do cities use?” We get that question a lot. The answer is, excepting a few cities, we generally don’t know. Only a handful of cities publish their energy use, and while the Energy Information Administration collects and reports a lot of great data on state- and utility-level energy consumption, they do not report city-level data.
Much like the proverbial ‘juice’ by which it’s often referred, electricity can go a long way for those who make a habit of squeezing every last drop of what they have. When everyone adopts this mindset, we all win, freeing up resources to dedicate to other critical needs. That’s the commonsense approach the utility sector has increasingly recognized and embraced over the years, harnessing efficiency to avoid or defer costs such as developing new energy supplies, building transmission infrastructure, and complying with environmental rules.