The Importance of Energy Efficiency

Achieving energy efficiency is important for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A 2007 study by McKinsey & Company stated that improving energy efficiency in buildings and appliances would reduce carbon emissions by 710 to 870 megatons by 2030. According to a recent study by McKinsey, energy efficiency will reduce GHG emissions by 1.1 gigatons a year, “the equivalent of taking all the entire U.S. fleet of passenger vehicles and light trucks off the roads.” 

Another recent report, from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), found that investing in energy efficiency could provide up to one-half of necessary GHG emissions reductions by 2050.

California leading the way

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) adopted an energy efficiency plan last year for 2009 to 2020. The plan includes four “big bold strategies” for achieving energy efficiency:

  1. All new residential construction in California will be zero net energy by 2020.
  2. All new commercial construction in California will be zero net energy by 2030.
  3. The Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) industry will be reshaped to ensure optimal equipment performance.
  4. All eligible low-income homes will be energy-efficient by 2020

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) has helped the city’s residents reduce their energy use through various energy efficiency programs. City officials estimate that through the DWP programs, 318 gigawatt-hours were saved in fiscal year 2008-2009. The DWP distributed 2.4 million compact fluorescent light bulbs to 1.2 million residences, given 13,650 free Energy-Star rated refrigerators in exchange for older models, and provided rebates for energy-saving air conditioners, swimming pool pumps, and windows. 

The DWP also has programs that encourage the use of renewable energy, including a solar photovoltaic (PV) incentive program that gives incentives to residents that purchase and install solar PV systems. The DWP’s Green Power Program allows residences to fund renewable energy projects by paying an extra cost of three cents per kilowatt hours with.

The San Francisco Energy Watch Program offers on-site energy efficiency assessments for businesses and property owners. The program offers energy efficient lighting, refrigeration, HVAC, food service equipment, and computers at a “greatly reduced cost.” 1700 California Street, a combined residential and commercial business building in San Francisco, saved over $52,000 through the SFEW Program.



LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

Lucien B.
Lucien B6 years ago

LEDs are the lighting of the coming era and a great energy saver.
How to Help Promote LED Lighting in The World

megan m.
megan m7 years ago

Jim, can we store the nuclear waste in your house then? Because I certainly don't want it anywhere near me or my food and water supply.

We need to REDUCE consumption of energy first, not expand energy production.

Jim D.
Past Member 7 years ago

Conservation is great; I'm all for real legislative action on fuel economy stanndards (not Cash for Clunkers boondoggles); and for exploring, vigorously, renewable energy options.

But from an electrical energy generation perspective, we gotta expand nuclear. The rivers are all built. The only thing we do by delaying further nuclear development is insuring that more coal will be mined and burned.

Plus if we can get over the hurdles of hydrogen storage capacity in automobiles, maybe nuclear can be the solution to turning water into hydrogen (and oxygen) without waste going into the upper atmosphere. Fuel cells can be made cheaper to produce one day, but one thing won't change: physics; it takes exactly as much energy to create hydrogen as we get back when a fuel cell turns it back into water.

We gotta create electricity (more all the time) and nuclear is the only proactive step we can take to create large amounts of it (in a demand-scalable way) with zero greenhouse gas emissions..

Buying lightbulbs is great, feels terrific, but won't solve the problem, even if everyone got on board, which we know they won't.

My $0.02,


Lisa Bridson
Lisa B7 years ago

While LEDs are a better alternative to CFL's, all of the comments so far about mercury in CFL's are highly misleading. While CFL's contain a small amount of mercury, it can't escape while the bulb is intact, and can result in less mercury in the environment than an incandesent bulb if you get your power from burning coal.

So until LED's are more affordable, if you want to have a positive affect on your environment, use CFL's and dispose of them properly at the end of their life. is also a useful site with what to do if a CFL breaks.

Jonathan B.
Jonathan B7 years ago

The mercury filled CFL bulbs can contaminate your entire house with mercury vapour, and is insanely easy to break, even from removing the bulb after it burns out.

The LED light technology is the one that should replace incandescent bulbs, since it uses vastly less power than CFL bulbs, and releases no toxins when broken and is less harsh on human eyes, but the government tends to go with any technology that the corporations sell as green.

If AL Gore really wants to reduce greenhouse gases, he would stop harrassing humans and animals about CO 2 emissions which all life releases, even plants, when photosynthesis is not occurring, and stop griping about methane, which is the flatus of animals, humans and bacteria, but would focus on world trade, and moving EVERYTHING produced by corporations all over the world, and make products and crops locally.

World Trade, even of green products, is the greatest generators of oil pollution, and the corporation establishment is the greatest pollutor, from its psychotic fixation of manufacturing parts of all electronics and parts of cars in every corner of the globe to save pennies.

The answer to global warming.

Eat local.
Travel little. (Tourists are not green).
Shop Local.
Buy Local.
Recycle what you have, and trade for what you don't, locally.

Sanduni H.
Sanduni H.7 years ago

Using energy efficiently is one of the most important issues we have faced by now .Accordind to me I think we should any way had to and still have to use energy carefully and move on to enviroment friendly soures.wind enegy ,solar energy etc.We must teach the rural communities about CFL BULBS,which will utilize very less amount of enrgy.My father UDAYA HETTIGODA invented anew light system which work using mechanical energy of your body. this ia an alternative to kerosene lamp which is mostly used by very poor rural communities.