Energy efficiency is much broader and bigger than a single widget, such as a LED lightbulb or “smart thermostat”. It can refer to advanced controls and substations, algorithms that dispatch electricity more effectively, apps that help people monitor their own energy use, even the direction the windows face in a glassy new office building. And it has relevance for all energy consumers, including governments, utilities, power plants, aircraft carriers, skyscrapers, manufacturing plants, small businesses, taxi drivers, and homeowners.
And it’s never been a better time to take advantage of energy efficiency’s benefits: technology has advanced rapidly in a short amount of time, and consumers have myriad new ways to save money and resources, while reducing carbon emissions, than ever before.
For example, utilities and other groups increasingly refer to energy efficiency as “a resource” that can displace electricity generation from coal, natural gas, nuclear power, wind power, and other supply-side resources. In many cases, it’s not only a viable option, it’s the cheapest option.
Energy savings from customer energy efficiency programs are typically achieved at 1/3 the cost of new generation resources Efficiency programs can also reduce the need to install, upgrade or replace transmission and distribution equipment.
There are other benefits, too. Efficiency can also improve system reliability and allow utilities to reduce or manage the demand on their systems — in some cases offsetting the need to add new peak generation capacity.
To learn more about how energy efficiency is transforming America’s energy landscape, visit the websites of the Alliance to Save Energy (www.ase.org) and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s website (www.aceee.org).