“What is America’s newest leadership position? It’s energy waste.”  Eric Savitz in Forbes magazine, 2013

“Energy efficiency is a powerful tool that has delivered greater economic growth, reduced emissions, and enhanced our quality of life on a massive scale.” The authors of the 2019Energy Efficiency Impact Report”

Conservation and reducing energy consumption are more cost effective than building new power plants. Helping people use less energy is cheaper for utility companies than new power plants and transmission lines. More energy efficiency is better for everyone, including the environment. This is a well-known, but too often ignored, reality.

There are many non-partisan experts who are showing us a better way. There are sensible, cost effective solutions available, with existing technologies, to improve energy efficiency and reduce wasteful consumption. This is the message of the 2019Energy Efficiency Impact Report” written by the Alliance to Save Energy, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy  (these are business oriented advocates for “free market solutions” NOT tree hugging socialists!).

The report examines past energy efficiency investments and documents the savings, resulting job growth, carbon emissions reductions, and the value to the economy. The report concludes:

Energy efficiency programs have been repeatedly shown to be highly cost-effective, marking energy efficiency as one of the most affordable resources for utilities.”

“Without the energy efficiency investments made since 1980, energy consumption and emissions would have been 60% higher, and consumers would be paying nearly $800 billion more per year in energy costs.” 

The report highlights six successful policies that made this possible: vehicle fuel economy standards, appliance and equipment energy efficiency standards, the Energy Star program, power plant efficiency requirements, federal research and development, and energy related building codes. The results of this have been good for everyone.

“Energy efficiency has saved billions in energy expenditures by families and businesses, but it has also done much more: created millions of jobs, reduced climate emissions, enhanced public health, improved comfort and commercial productivity…”

These sensible polices DO NOT KILL JOBS or hurt the economy as is frequently claimed by the conservative politicians. The report says,

“The 2.3 million energy efficiency jobs in the U.S. make up 40% of all energy jobs with 70% of the workers employed by small businesses.”

Despite the success of energy efficiency efforts, the reports says we are going backwards. Energy efficiency improvements could deliver half of emissions reductions needed for the U.S to meet Paris Agreement climate targets. But the U.S. is not on track to achieve these reductions. Rather, conservative politicians, especially at the federal level, are reversing standards, cutting tax incentives, and funds for research and the popular Energy Star program. Again the report says it best.

“Estimated total U.S. energy efficiency investment levels from 2016 to 2018 have fallen by almost 20%.”

“However, to move forward as a nation, strong and consistent support for the continued growth of energy efficiency is critical.” (emphasis added) 

Who was in charge between 2016 and 2018?  Which “leaders” are taking us backward? It’s the same ignorant, short-sighted oil and gas industry lap-dogs who think climate change is a hoax, environmental protection kills jobs, and the sensible “green new deal” is socialism.

The report points out that leadership is key to making progress.

Decades of experience have taught us that energy efficiency doesn’t always happen on its own: it requires proactive support among diverse stakeholders to see its benefits and work together to realize them.”

Being less wasteful and promoting energy efficiency is a win-win for everyone. We can, and must, do better by building on past success. We need leadership to make this happen but we also need people to adopt less wasteful lifestyles while working together for a cleaner future. Waste not – want not.