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Efficiency Standards to Save Americans More Than $1 Trillion by 2035

Stephen Lacey
Think Progress / News Analysis
Published: Monday 12 March 2012
“The average American household could save 180 megawatt-hours of electricity and over 200,000 gallons of water. Translated into understandable figures: Roughly $30,000.”
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Sadly, America’s wildly successful energy efficiency standards have fallen victim to politics in recent years. Despite being used over the decades as a way to encourage innovation, increase customer choice, and reduce pollution, efficiency targets have been bizarrely branded as a government tool to control people’s lives.

Well, here’s more evidence that energy efficiency standards for equipment and lighting actually help consumers: A new report from the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy shows that these standards reduced energy consumption by 7% in 2010 — and could help consumers save $1.1 trillion in energy costs by 2035.

Assuming that 11 new standards being considered for computer equipment, electric motors, fans, and pumps get established, the U.S. could see a 14% reduction in annual electricity use by 2035 compared with current projections. According to the ACEEE report, assuming household appliances are updated every 15 years through 2040, the average American household could save 180 megawatt-hours of electricity and over 200,000 gallons of water. Translated into understandable figures: Roughly $30,000.

Here are some other interesting factoids on energy savings from these standards:

  • Annual natural gas savings in 2035 of about 950 trillion British thermal units (TBtu), or enough to heat 32% of all natural-gas-heated U.S. homes.
  • Peak demand savings in 2035 of about 240 gigawatt (GW), saving about 18% of what the total generating capacity projected for 2035 would have been without standards.
  • The CO2 savings from existing standards in 2010 were 203 million metric tons, an amount equal to the CO2 emitted by 51 coal-fired power plants. By 2025, the CO2 savings grow to 448 milion metric tons, an amount equal to the emissions of 112 average-sized coal-fired power plants.
  • Annual emissions reductions in 2035 of around 470 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), an amount equal to the emissions of 118 coal-fired power plants.

Since they were established in the 80′s, efficiency standards have clearly worked. They are a no-brainer for helping reduce peak demand, save consumers money and reduce global warming pollution. They also help drive innovation in business through consistent national standards.

Why would such common-sense measures get dragged into politics?

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ABOUT Stephen Lacey

Stephen Lacey is a reporter/blogger for Climate Progress, where he writes on clean energy policy, technologies, and finance. Before joining CP, he was an editor/producer with He received his B.A. in journalism from Franklin Pierce University.

It's good news that the

It's good news that the gadgets, electronics and appliances of tomorrow will be more environmentally friendly and thus cheaper to operate. Sadly, I suspect this will have no impact on utility customers' bills. Efficiency is a losing proposition for energy providers, which by definition profit most when we use more, not less, energy. PUCs will increase costs to compensate for lower demand. One can only hope that the commissions that regulate energy providers will be wise to the games they will play to prevent us from seeing any savings on our monthly utility bills. Already, the PUCs are taking action to lobby state governments to increase their rates so that the decline of the American consumer and/or the improved energy-efficiency of future products will not translate into a decline in their own profits. I'm a believer that certain universal human needs should be met by not-for-profit enterprises. Healthcare, energy --- they ought to be nonprofits.

Stephen, how do you value the

Stephen, how do you value the thousands of additional lives lost each year as a direct result of vehicles being lighter and thus less protective of occupants during a crash? (If you want to find some information regarding this, Google something like government estimate of deaths from higher fuel efficiency. Here’s just one article: requirements

How is it that big-hearted liberals always seem willing to throw a few more bodies onto the bonfire of their grand causes? It brings to mind Stalin’s quote, “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”

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