Energy Efficiency Offers Trillions in Potential Savings

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – A large part of the energy consumed in the United States every year is wasted through inefficient technology and transmission and heat loss. Energy efficiency is one of the simplest and most cost effective solutions to ensure cleaner air to breathe, mitigate the risks of climate change, increase the competitiveness of businesses, and reduce energy costs for consumers.

In comparison to renewable power technologies such as solar and wind, which attract a lot of attention, energy efficiency is the silent performer. According to experts, businesses and individuals across the world could save trillions of dollars by improving the energy efficiency of light bulbs, appliances, machinery and transport systems.

Harry Verhaar, head of global and public affairs at Philips Lighting and chairman of the European Alliance to Save Energy, said that energy efficiency is not only the proverbial low-hanging fruit, it is in fact fruit lying on the ground. All one needs to do is bend over and pick it up. However, the fact remains that most nations have failed to make a committed effort to exploit the potential savings available through energy efficiency.

In countries where the governments have prioritized energy efficiency, progress has been dramatic. For instance, Germany, which topped the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s rankings as the most efficient of the world’s 16 biggest economies, requires regular efficiency audits of manufacturers and has stringent building codes.

China has made significant progress in recent times and ranks fourth on the efficiency scorecard. The Chinese government persisted with institutionalization of energy efficiency, allocated funds for research and development, and set major targets to achieve time-bound results. Some of the manufacturing facilities and buildings in China today are among the most efficient in the world.

Philippe Benoit, head of energy efficiency and environment at the International Energy Agency, said that efficiency will have to account for 40 percent of the emissions reduction, if global warming is to be restricted to 2 degrees Celsius. The US government has sought to improve energy efficiency through higher mileage standards for vehicles and proposed emission cuts for power plants.

In the developing countries, energy efficiency can also help improve access to power for people who lack it. For instance, when poor households switch to LED light bulbs, it produces more lighting and leaves enough spare electricity to power additional appliances such as a fan. Verhaar says that energy efficiency is practically free because it is the energy one does not use.

Source: NYT

Image Credit: Flickr via luis perez