photo: Dan4th Nicholas via flickr
TreeHugger consistently says that the least expensive way to green your energy usage is through energy efficiency. Energy that you don't need to use because your home or office retains heat when appropriate and ventilates well when needed, or because your appliances required less energy to do what they're supposed to do, is the cheapest way to knock some kilowatt-hours off your electric bill. But the impact of energy efficiency not only adds up quickly, it goes beyond reducing energy demand.
A new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy shows just how much the United States could gain from increased energy efficiency:ACEEE says that if the federal Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, versions of which are making their way through the House and Senate as the Save American Energy Act, the energy savings that would result could power nearly 48 million households by 2020, and save Americans nearly $168.6 billion in the process.
That doesn't even mention other benefits, like 220,000 jobs being created and greenhouse gas reductions of 262 million tonnes.
What's an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard Anyway?
An EERS is a law requiring the use of energy efficiency, usually specifying how much energy needs to be saved per year. An EERS is similar in concept to a renewable electricity standard (RES). An RES requires utilities to obtain a certain amount of energy from renewable resources (wind, solar, biomass, etc.) while an EERS requires electric utilities and natural gas distributors to attain a required level of efficiency savings. The savings are "required" because, at the state level, the state legislature approves the standard which becomes state law once it is signed by the governor. Failure to comply with the law typically results in penalties, generally specified in the legislation. At the federal level, Congress would need to pass the EERS which would then be signed into law by the President.
More: Laying the Foundation for Implementing a Federal Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (free PDF, but registration is required)
Beating the Energy Efficiency Paradox (Part 1)
34% Drop in US Electric Requirements Possible Through Energy Efficiency Improvements: Rocky Mountain Institute
Plan B Efficiency and Conservation Measures Drop Energy Demand by 2020