3 Tips to Make Energy Efficiency More Appealing
Energy efficiency is a major deal – according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, it saved the U.S. $800 billion last year alone, and could cut power use 40 to 60 percent by 2050. But in order for that to happen, ordinary Americans have to buy in.
As this E&E article points out, energy efficiency can be a tough sell because it’s basically invisible – it’s the turned-off light and the unplugged appliance. It can also take a while for consumers to realize their energy savings, leaving them wondering if efficiency is worth the effort and upfront costs. But there are a number of ways to make efficiency more appealing.
• Educate consumers about the actions that make the biggest difference. Many believe that turning off lights is the best way to save energy, when it’s actually the thermostat and water heater that use the most power.
• Make use of people’s competitive nature. Utility software provider Opower lets customers see how their consumption compares with their next-door neighbors.
• Reduce upfront costs. Some companies and utilities are developing programs to help consumers pay for energy retrofits.
When it comes to conserving energy, people want to do the right thing – but sometimes they need a little push to help them to change their behavior.
By Katherine Ling, reporter for E&E Publishing
Energy efficiency is being trumpeted as the “low-hanging fruit” of U.S. energy policy and the “great test bed of bipartisanship” in Congress.
But it’s never been called exciting.
“Energy efficiency is invisible,” said Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute of Market Transformation, which promotes energy efficiency through market incentives. “Energy efficiency is largely the absence of stuff. It is having a light not on, having fewer lights or better insulation. You don’t see the insulation in the wall. You are not thinking about a comfortable home that is not cold. You only care when it is uncomfortable.”
Yet energy efficiency is a big deal. Last year alone, energy efficiency standards and upgrades saved the United States $800 billion in energy productivity – with improved automotive fuel efficiency and reduced demands for electricity leading the way, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy says. ACEEE said in a report last month that energy efficiency by 2050 can reduce power use by 40 to 60 percent from current forecasts.
Sounds great, but it’s not going to come easy. Policymakers, regulators and manufacturers are struggling to learn how to finance, create incentives for and measure efficiency improvements and ensure they deliver promised benefits.
Image credit: Scott Lewis / Flickr