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Calculating the Nation's Annual Energy Efficiency Investments

Research Report E133


John A. "Skip" Laitner


We estimate that in 2010 between $480 and $670 billion (midpoint of $574 billion) was spent on energy-efficient goods and services.  Of these expenditures, between $72 billion and $101 billion (midpoint of $90 billion) was the incremental cost of efficient goods and services relative to conventional goods and services.   Relative to a prior ACEEE study that looked at energy efficiency expenditures in 2004, energy efficiency spending appears to have increased by about 80% since 2004, excluding the effects of inflation.  By way of comparison, approximately $170 billion was spent in 2010 on conventional energy supply—the latter including things like transmission lines, drilling equipment, oil wells, and power plants. The $90 billion premium for the higher levels of energy efficiency is a bit more than one-half of the annual investment in energy supply.  

The analysis also found that the investment in efficiency technologies, and the resulting energy bill savings, supported a net gain of about 300,000 more jobs for the American economy, after accounting for the fact that the energy efficiency investments reduced the need for investments in energy supply.   

Major contributors to the energy efficiency spending included utility energy efficiency program expenditures, sales of ENERGY STAR and other efficient products,  annual investments in building efficiency improvements, repairs and new construction, trends in manufacturing energy use and investments, and sales of efficient cars and light trucks.  The analysis covered 2010 because this was the last year for which reasonably complete data is available.