Washington, D.C. — It's the U.S. energy boom that no one knows about. Energy efficiency may be the farthest-reaching, least-polluting, and fastest-growing energy success story of the last 50 years. But it also is the most invisible, the least understood, and in serious danger of missing out on needed future investments. In the first attempt to quantify the overall impact of the hidden U.S. energy efficiency boom, a major new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) shows that U.S. energy consumption (as measured per dollar of economic output) will have been slashed by the end of 2008 to half of what it was in 1970, from 18,000 Btus to about 8,900 Btus.
However, the ACEEE report, The Size of the U.S. Energy Efficiency Market: Generating a More Complete Picture, concludes that "…our nation is not aware of the role that energy efficiency has played in satisfying our growing energy-service demands…the contributions of efficiency often go unrecognized. The contributions of energy efficiency often remain invisible..." The report also notes that although efficiency is a proven resource, it remains underdeveloped. "In short, the evidence suggests that efficiency can make an even larger contribution towards stabilizing energy prices and reducing greenhouse gas emissions – should we choose to fully develop it."
The ACEEE report was prepared with major support from the Civil Society Institute (CSI). Additional support was provided by the Kendall Foundation and the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association.
Key report findings include:
ACEEE Director of Economic Analysis John A. "Skip" Laitner, co-author of the new report, said: "The greatest American success story in dealing with energy in recent decades is also the least understood and the most invisible. This report shows that energy efficiency is among the most cost-effective solutions available to consumers, businesses, policymakers, and investors. Energy efficiency has made great strides, but we need to look at picking up the pace. The energy-related challenges of the 21st century require a dramatic shift in direction – from an emphasis on energy supply to an emphasis on energy efficiency."
Lloyd Jeff Dumas, Professor of Political Economy, Economics and Public Policy at The University of Texas at Dallas, and chair, Civil Society Institute Working Group on the Economy and Global Warming, said: "In effect, energy efficiency is buying the time that America needs to develop new clean energy sources that will reduce the greenhouse gases linked to global warming. This study sends a powerful message that members of the public, elected officials, and corporations need to squeeze out even more of the potential of energy efficiency as part of a comprehensive energy strategy that looks to our future, rather than the past."
Dumas, author of Seeds of Opportunity: Climate Change Challenges and Solutions, noted that study sponsor Civil Society Institute is a co-convener of the Citizens Lead for Energy Action Now (CLEAN) Call to Action (http://www.cleanenergyaction.net) that urges, among other things, a significantly stepped-up focus on more energy efficiency.
Other Key Report Findings
ACEEE Research Associate Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez, lead author of the report, said: "While these figures indicate that, as a nation, we are clearly making positive strides toward increasing our energy productivity and reducing our carbon footprint, we have only begun to scratch the surface of the potential savings that additional investments in energy efficiency technologies could provide. While current investments in energy efficiency are having an important impact on our economy, efficiency remains under-funded, and the potential benefits of efficiency remain unrealized."
The Size of the U.S. Energy Efficiency Market: Generating a More Complete Picture can be downloaded for free at http://aceee.org/pubs/e083.htm or purchased for $30 plus $5 postage and handling from ACEEE Publications, 529 14th St, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20045, phone: 202-507-4000, fax: 202-429-2248, e-mail: email@example.com.
A list of comments from experts about the ACEEE report is available at http://www.aceee.org/pubs/e083.htm.