Energy efficiency technologies offer major savings

Dec 09, 2009

Energy efficiency technologies that exist today or that are likely to be developed in the near future could save considerable money as well as energy, says a new report from the National Research Council. Fully adopting these technologies could lower projected U.S. energy use 17 percent to 20 percent by 2020, and 25 percent to 31 percent by 2030.

Achieving full deployment of these efficiency technologies will depend in part on pressures driving adoption, such as high prices or public policies designed to increase energy efficiency. Nearly 70 percent of in the United States occurs in buildings. The from attaining full deployment of cost-effective, energy-efficient technologies in buildings alone could eliminate the need to add new capacity through 2030, the report says. New facilities would be needed only to address imbalances in regional energy supplies, replace obsolete facilities, or to introduce more environmentally friendly sources of electricity.

Many cost-effective efficiency investments in buildings are possible, the report says. For example, replacing appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, furnaces, and hot water heaters with more efficient models could reduce energy use by 30 percent. Opportunities for achieving substantial energy savings exist in the industrial and transportation sectors as well. For example, deployment of industrial energy efficiency technologies could reduce energy use in manufacturing 14 percent to 22 percent by 2020, relative to expected trends. Most of these savings would occur in the most energy-intensive industries, such as chemical manufacturing, petroleum refining, pulp and paper, iron and steel, and cement.

Although there is great potential, many barriers exist to widespread adoption of energy efficiency technologies, the report points out. The upfront costs can be high, which can deter investment despite the possibility of long-term cost savings. Volatile energy prices can cause buyers to delay purchasing more efficient technology due to a lack of confidence that they will see an adequate return on their investment. In addition, there is a shortage of readily available, trustworthy information for consumers hoping to learn about the relative performance and costs of energy-efficient technology alternatives. Investments in energy-efficient infrastructure are particularly important, as these can lock in patterns of energy use for decades. Therefore, taking advantage of windows of opportunity for infrastructure is crucial.

Overcoming these barriers will require significant public and private support, and sustained effort. Many energy efficiency initiatives have been successful, such as the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star labeling program. Efforts undertaken by California and New York have yielded large energy savings for those states. These experiences provide valuable lessons for national, state, and local policymakers on enacting effective policies.

This is the final report in a series from the National Academies' America's Energy Future project, which was undertaken to stimulate and inform a constructive national dialogue about the nation's energy future.

Source: National Academy of Sciences (news : web)

Explore further: Solar-powered two-seat Sunseeker airplane has progress report

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New standards for Energy Star fridges

Aug 04, 2007

The U.S. Department of Energy is increasing the energy efficiency criteria required for refrigerators carrying the Energy Star label.

U.S., China sign energy agreement

Sep 17, 2007

The U.S. Department of Energy has joined with China in agreeing to increase cooperation to heighten energy efficiency in China's industrial sector.

Recommended for you

Switch on sunlight for a brighter future

10 hours ago

Imagine sitting in a windowless room yet having the feeling of the sun shining on your face. This unique experience is now possible thanks to the COELUX EU-funded project which recreates the physical and ...

US urged to drop India WTO case on solar

Apr 23, 2014

Environmentalists Wednesday urged the United States to drop plans to haul India to the WTO to open its solar market, saying the action would hurt the fight against climate change.

Is nuclear power the only way to avoid geoengineering?

Apr 23, 2014

"I think one can argue that if we were to follow a strong nuclear energy pathway—as well as doing everything else that we can—then we can solve the climate problem without doing geoengineering." So says Tom Wigley, one ...

User comments : 0

More news stories