Energy efficiency is a key part of an “all of the above” energy strategy. Energy efficiency has reduced U.S. energy use by about half since 1970 and much more is possible. Energy efficiency is typically less expensive per unit of energy than most energy supplies, and energy efficiency is more labor intensive, helping to create more jobs. Unfortunately, a series of market barriers keeps investments in energy efficiency below optimal levels. Smart policies can help address some of these market barriers, helping the private market to better capture these efficiency opportunities.
The Smart Energy Act is a useful piece of legislation to increase energy efficiency in the United States. Provisions will foster energy efficiency investments in federal facilities by private companies, reduce energy use for data processing, and increase use of combined heat and power systems. These will be important contributors to reducing energy waste in the United States.
However, significantly more can be done. We recommend that the Committee look at adding some additional provisions, particularly ones related to improving model building codes, training building engineers, encouraging efficiency upgrades to existing buildings and modernization of manufacturing facilities, and making consensus improvements to equipment efficiency standards. A recent analysis ACEEE prepared on the impacts of such provisions found that such a bill would reduce U.S. energy consumption in 2030 by 2.3 quadrillion Btu, about 2 percent of projected energy use that year, while creating about 185,000 jobs by 2030.