In a large missed opportunity to boost power grid flexibility and benefit customers, relatively few US utilities have programs that fully integrate energy efficiency and demand response, according to ACEEE’s robust review of 44 utility filings.
Strategic energy management (SEM) programs are expanding beyond the industrial sector to commercial and institutional customers. These programs and data management technologies are two of the biggest opportunities to reduce energy use at large facilities. Not only do they save energy and decrease carbon emissions, they also help utilities build long-term relationships with clients and introduce them to additional efficiency programs.
Blockchain is generating a lot of buzz as a promising system to verify and track peer-to-peer transactions in the energy sector. It could have multiple applications although there is still debate about which, if any, will work well. What’s clear, however, is that companies are already exploring uses of blockchain to save energy. Let me tell you about three applications that show promise.
Blockchain technology could transform energy efficiency (and the world as we know it), but lately it’s been getting a bad rap. Many recent news reports have focused on how much energy is being used (and wasted by some accounts) to make Bitcoins. But Bitcoin is not the only use of blockchain and most of them are not energy intensive.
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.
Intelligent efficiency technologies such as learning thermostats and smart watches are making it easier to track and quantify the many benefits of saving energy. Fitness trackers are allowing researchers to evaluate the health benefits, new software apps are enabling building managers to check occupant comfort, and social media posts are helping utilities address resiliency concerns by assessing the scope of power outages.
The extreme weather events sweeping the United States, from wildfires in the West to hurricanes in the South, are causing untold personal suffering and damaging US infrastructure. We want to help residents and businesses get back on their feet, and we see a smart use of energy as integral for long-term recovery.
The industrial sector is unique among end-use sectors in that its energy intensity has declined consistently in recent decades, decreasing 45% from 1977 through 2016. The decline occurred even though the sector’s energy use has fluctuated, its output has almost doubled, and economic activity has risen and fallen with economic cycles.
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.
This is not how your grandparents saved energy. They may have told you to turn off the lights or put on a sweater. They offered good advice, but times have changed beyond what they probably ever imagined. Technology is making it possible to do so much more. It gives us “intelligent efficiency,” now moving faster than ever.