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:
- All new residential construction in California will be zero net energy by 2020.
- All new commercial construction in California will be zero net energy by 2030.
- The Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) industry will be reshaped to ensure optimal equipment performance.
- 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.