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ACEEE Blog


March 14, 2013 - 8:38am

By Susan Mazur-Stommen, Behavior and Human Dimensions Program Director


The Behavioral Program staff at ACEEE is pleased to announce today’s publication of Trusted Partners: Everyday Energy Efficiency Across the South. We used a case study approach at sites in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana and talked with people in small towns and big cities, in their homes, on their farms, and about their businesses. Each interview included a core set of questions about demographics and basic energy use attitudes for a general picture of energy consumption in the South. During our fieldwork, we collected about 60 hours of audio from formal interviews alone!

One of our overarching questions was, “Are end-users of energy in these states interested in energy efficiency?” Among the people we talked to, the biggest take-away from this project is YES! Consumers of energy in the South are interested in practicing energy efficiency. The Southerners we talked to also told us that what they need to advance energy efficiency is a neutral source of trustworthy information about what activities best suit their needs and specific contexts.

We believe that there is a large undiscovered potential for energy savings in the South and that behavior change is one of the keys to unlock it. Savings realized from investing in energy efficiency can be directed towards other needs within a community, and...


March 13, 2013 - 8:55am

By Ben Foster, Research Analyst


Last week, states from the Dakotas to New England were surprised by a late winter storm. Energy efficiency in the states has had its own share of surprise squalls recently. As we now sit on the cusp of spring, it seems an appropriate opportunity to offer my own outlook on states’ pursuit of energy efficiency in 2013.

In his blog post earlier this year, ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel noted several positive developments in energy efficiency at the federal level, including new fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles and updated efficiency standards for clothes washers and dishwashers. He also identified new opportunities for moving forward on energy efficiency policy, particularly through sating the...


March 7, 2013 - 12:29pm

By Sameer Kwatra, Senior Analyst


Building energy codes determine the minimum efficiency level for the design and construction of new buildings, and significant additions and renovations to existing buildings. Several developments came together in the last few years that make a strong case for the involvement of utilities in advancing the adoption, implementation, and compliance verification of building energy codes. First, every state that received funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 committed to adopting national model codes along with agreeing to implement a plan to reach at least 90% compliance by 2017. Second, many states have established Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS), which provide a clear and tangible energy efficiency target to utilities...


March 5, 2013 - 2:58pm

By Kate Johnson, Senior Analyst, Local Policy


Whole-home energy retrofits are growing in popularity across the country, but what if you are one of the more than 20 million American households that live in an apartment or condo? What if you own or manage an apartment building? Multifamily buildings represent a large and mostly untapped potential for saving energy as traditional energy efficiency programs have focused on single-family homes or commercial office buildings. Multifamily buildings present unique challenges and opportunities for energy savings that do not lend themselves to a one-size-fits-all approach. One key to unlocking their potential is scaling up energy efficiency programs that are specifically designed to reach the owners and tenants of multifamily buildings and to overcome common barriers to investing in energy efficiency. These include split incentives between landlords and tenants and building owners’ lack of capital to make major investments.

We will be highlighting strategies to save energy in multifamily buildings throughout the month of March, beginning with our new report released today. The report, Scaling up Multifamily Energy Efficiency Programs: A Metropolitan Area Assessment, maps the opportunities to expand energy efficiency programs for multifamily buildings in the 50 U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest multifamily housing...


March 4, 2013 - 10:05am

By Maggie Molina, Utilities, State, and Local Policy Program Director


Last Wednesday was a sad day for energy efficiency in Louisiana, and customers will end up paying the price. In a sudden move, the Louisiana Public Service Commission (PSC) voted to overturn their newly-adopted energy efficiency rules enacted in December of last year.

The rules from December set up a framework for improving energy efficiency in homes and business around the state, and were a result of several years of hard work and careful consideration by the PSC staff and numerous stakeholders involved in the process. As written in the order, the PSC staff “found a general consensus that [energy efficiency] can provide benefits to both utilities and their customers.” Indeed, energy efficiency is the state’s least costly and least risky energy resource. The rules established guidance for “quick-start” energy efficiency programs to be offered by electricity and natural gas utilities in the state over the next two years, following a similar model to Arkansas. By overturning the rules, Louisiana falls further behind its neighbor on energy efficiency.

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February 27, 2013 - 10:03am

By Casey Bell, Senior Economist and Finance Policy Lead


Prominent policy experts on The Alliance to Save Energy’s Commission on National Energy Policy agree that one of the keys to increasing energy efficiency in the United States is growing the market for energy efficiency financing. Given the President’s recent State of the Union challenge to cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years, now is a critical moment to overcome cost and structural barriers to energy efficiency investment. Fortunately, we are experiencing a period of rapid innovation and experimentation in energy efficiency finance. Over the past several years, numerous strategies and mechanisms for reducing upfront cost barriers to energy efficiency have emerged and are experiencing increased popularity and adoption.

For financiers, the investment potential is significant. The Rockefeller Foundation and Deutsche Bank estimate that private sector entities could invest more than $279 billion across the buildings sector. They estimate such investment would generate more...


February 26, 2013 - 9:28am

By R. Neal Elliott, Associate Director for Research


Today I have the privilege of testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. My hope is that this is the beginning of a discussion that will lead to federal energy efficiency legislation later this year. Congress has a unique opportunity to strengthen our economy through energy efficiency, save the nation millions of dollars, and curb pollution. My testimony will illustrate the powerful benefits of this essential energy resource and discuss five areas of potential legislative action.

Appliance and equipment standards have been one of the greatest energy efficiency policy success stories of the last quarter-century. These standards have resulted in cumulative energy savings since 1987 of 3.4 quads in 2010, with the net present value of consumer savings from standards already in place set to save about $1.1 trillion through 2035.

Building energy codes are universally recognized as the easiest and most cost-effective way to help consumers save energy and money, making housing more affordable and reducing air pollution. ...


February 18, 2013 - 11:13am

By John A. "Skip" Laitner, Consultant


It turns out that the U.S. embraces energy efficiency in a big way. According to a new report we released today, ACEEE estimates that in 2010 (the latest year for which data is available) $479–670 billion was spent in the U.S. on energy efficiency goods and services such as energy efficiency program expenditures, sales of ENERGY STAR products, investments in building efficiency improvements, repairs and new construction, trends in manufacturing energy use and investments, and sales of efficient vehicles.

The incremental cost of advancement in energy efficiency (e.g., upgrading from an average refrigerator to an ENERGY STAR model) was $72–$101 billion in 2010. These estimates are consistent with a range of past studies, and are significantly greater than our estimate for investments in 2004. Our findings are summarized in a new fact sheet, also released today.

To give some context, the United States spent about $170 billion in 2010 on conventional energy supply, including things like transmission lines, drilling equipment, oil wells, and power plants. The...


February 15, 2013 - 1:59pm

By Rachel Young, National Policy Research Analyst


Cross-posted from the blog of the U.S. Green Building Council, Northern California Chapter

The President’s inauguration speech sparked renewed dialogue about the need for a comprehensive energy plan to address climate change. Recent decreases in lake levels in Texas is causing the city of Wichita Falls to look for new ways to stabilize their water supplies. Frequently missing from both of these discussions is the inherent relationship between water and energy.  This relationship should be capitalized on when crafting programs and policies aimed at solving these tough issues at the national and municipal level.

Energy is needed to transport, treat, heat, cool, and recycle water and, conversely, water is needed in energy extraction, production, and processing. As a result, saving water saves energy and saving energy saves water. This overlap between energy and water has come to be known as...


February 14, 2013 - 12:17pm

By Sara Hayes, Senior Manager and Researcher, Policy and Utilities


It’s been a tough couple of years for many states. Coping with an economic recession, unemployment, and budget shortages has left some states anticipating an austere future. As states attempt to sort out a financial future that makes sense, they are searching for the lowest cost approaches to provide basic resources to their citizens, including affordable power and clean air.

For some, the coupling of affordable power and clean air seems as unlikely to succeed as that unlikely movie couple, Harold and Maude. The problem with this way of thinking, though, is the failure to recognize the lynchpin that can move us towards a future with both. Energy efficiency is the low-cost energy resource that meets the needs of customers while reducing the pollution that comes from the power sector. In fact, energy efficiency reduces all the key pollutants that are generated by power plants and is a resource large enough to offset dozens of old coal-fired power plants. While energy efficiency isn’t flashy and may be a bit of a wallflower in the energy sector, its potential is startling.

So this Valentine’s Day we have a gift for optimists and romantics everywhere. Today ACEEE is publishing a new tool dedicated to helping states and their citizens flourish. The tool...