Small Steps, Big Results

Well, I’m usually not one to say “I told you so” but, at the very least, a new study from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) supports my “preaching” about energy efficiency over the past year.

According to a recent EDF report, if homeowners adopted certain energy reduction behaviors – based on data generated from information-based energy efficiency programs – they could generate billions in savings and reduce CO2 emissions by more than 8.9 million metric tons per year on a nationwide level.

And the report isn’t talking about major “behavioral” overhauls. It’s referring to simple things like adjusting thermostats, sealing gaps near windows and doors, and conducting regular maintenance. These little actions lead to dramatic results.

The data analyzed includes more than 22 million meter reads gathered over periods of a minimum of 12 months across the country. The report analyzes the effectiveness of these programs and estimates the impact of taking these savings to the national scale. Key findings include:

* Nationally, informational-based energy efficiency programs have driven individual household savings ranging from an average of 1-3 percent per year. This amounts to millions of dollars in aggregate savings for home electricity customers.

* The EDF surmised that if every home in America reduced its energy use by the average in this program, projected energy usage would drop by more than 26,000 GWh per year.

Additional findings:

* The energy savings could power every home in Colorado, and still have enough left over to cover everyone in Utah

* A reduction of energy use this size would reduce electricity bills by $3 billion each year across the U.S.

* Eliminating electricity waste on this scale would reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 9 million metric tons per year – equal to the emissions from three 500-MW coal-fired power plants.

The information-based energy efficiency programs featured in this study are identical to a pilot program we conducted in Minnesota. As part of the program, residents received a report that compared their home energy use to that of 100 neighbors with similar sized homes. Results from the pilot found that customers who received the report reduce their electricity use an average of 2 percent over those in the control group.

So now that I have some vindication from a credible third-party, should I stop “preaching” about energy efficiency and championing homeowners to make the smallest of improvements? Nah. I think I’ll give it at least one more year…

Article by Tim Laughlin, appearing courtesy Xcel Energy Blog.

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