Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
Exciting new opportunities are emerging for commercial buildings to optimize their energy use. These include not only innovative technologies, but also new approaches to system design, building operations, and financing. ACEEE explores three of these opportunities in new topic briefs, released today, as part of our Emerging Opportunities for Buildings series.
From coast to coast, several programs are starting to help homeowners switch from space and water heating fueled by oil, propane, and natural gas to high-efficiency heat pumps powered by clean electricity. Multiple studies have found such conversions will be necessary to achieve deep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions (see here and here), while also saving energy and money for customers.
National standards that require appliances and equipment to be more energy efficient do more than save energy and reduce utility bills. They also spur economic growth and create jobs — a lot of jobs. In fact, our new report reveals that they created or sustained nearly 300,000 jobs in 2016 and are projected to support 553,000 jobs in 2030. These jobs benefit every US state.
To achieve the common and ambitious worldwide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% or more by 2050, analyses find that consumers and businesses will need to use a combination of energy efficiency and carbon-free electricity (e.g., electricity from renewable resources, nuclear) or low-carbon electricity (efficient fossil fuel use with carbon capture and storage) for transportation, space heating, and water heating (see here and here
With as many as four billion additional air conditioning units expected to be in use by 2050, the value of highly efficient air conditioners will only increase over the next few decades. The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently predicted that as power plants generate more electricity for these units, greenhouse gas emissions could nearly double from 1.25 billion tons in 2016 to 2.28 billion tons in 2050.
US homes can lower their energy use by up to one-sixth simply by incorporating smart technologies, according to our new report, Energy Impacts of Smart Home Technologies. In addition, these technologies — a combination of software, sensors, and hardware that monitor and control a home’s interior environment — allow homes to shift some of their energy use to times when energy demand and pricing are lowest. This pairing of energy savings and peak demand reduction is a win-win scenario for consumers and utilities alike.
Our existing housing stock is an underutilized energy efficiency resource. We’ve only scratched the surface of its potential to save energy. Decades of research and thousands of retrofits show that even the most basic home retrofits can cut energy use by 15-20% while more comprehensive retrofit projects can double or even triple the energy savings. Residents benefit not only from lower energy bills, but also from improved comfort, better health, and safer, more durable homes. Despite the widely-documented benefits of whole home retrofits, demand for retrofits lags.
The Department of Energy (DOE) issued new efficiency standards today that will dramatically reduce the energy use of a little-known home energy hog. Furnace fans, which circulate heated and cooled air throughout a home, consume more than twice the electricity in a year as a typical new refrigerator. The new standards will cut the cost to power furnace fans by about 40% and also deliver improved comfort.
New Report Shows How Energy-Efficient Manufactured Homes Can Save Consumers Billions
Today a new book by David Owen was released entitled The Conundrum: How Scientific Innovation, Increased Efficiency, and Good Intentions Can Make Our Energy and Climate Problems Worse. This book expands upon an earlier article Owen wrote in The New Yorker that ACEEE criticized.