Focusing on energy-efficiency when building a home can be done in a combination of ways! The construction process itself can be done more efficiently, as well as using energy efficient materials. Then, of course, there’s the goal of ending up with a building that is more energy efficient due to efficient appliances, lighting, renewable energy systems, solar heating, and even landscaping! So are any of these efforts to save energy actually working? According to the recent Energy Efficiency Impact Report, the answer is yes! They found that, since 1980, investments in U.S. energy efficiency have prevented a 60% increase in energy consumption and carbon emissions! This is saving consumers almost $800 billion per year in energy costs, while also improving public health and providing a cleaner environment. Here are some of the specific areas that have contributed to, and resulted from, these efficiencies:
Policies and Programs
The primary U.S. policies and programs in place to save energy include building energy codes, the fuel economy standards, appliance and equipment energy efficiency standards, ENERGY STAR®, utility sector efficiency programs, and federal research and development. Without the energy savings from all of these, the annual U.S. energy use would have been about 23% higher!
Federal standards and the introduction of the Energy Star program have led to more energy-efficient home appliances and equipment. Today’s average clothes washer uses only one-fifth of the energy that was required for a washer in 1990, and the average refrigerator today uses only two-fifths of the energy required to run an average refrigerator in 1980! Appliances and equipment available today are often improved in size, capacity, and performance as well! These new standards have resulted in 80% energy savings overall since 1980.
The decrease in residential and commercial energy consumption has been more recent. Residential household energy has seen an 18% decrease in energy use from 2001-2018, and commercial buildings have seen a fall of over 600 trillion BTU from 2001 to 2012. New certifications, such as LEED, and innovations in construction materials along with efficient HVAC and lighting systems, will be the biggest opportunities for these energy savings to be even greater. Construction of zero-net buildings and ultra-efficient homes are growing at a rapid rate.
Most consumers in residential, commercial, and industrial sectors are using electricity and natural gas utilities. Utilities, especially, have incentivized consumers to conserve energy with various programs that have led to some of the largest energy savings of any other policy tool in the nation. A collective effort to simply save energy, in comparison to using gas, coal, or even solar and wind energy, is the most cost-effective, reliable and zero-carbon resource available.
These savings in energy mean that we’ve had twice the economic output from our energy than we did in 1980! There’s now 2.3 million jobs that focus on energy efficiency, which makes up 40% of all energy jobs and 70% of those workers are employed by small businesses. The increase in economic competitiveness to achieve these efficiencies has led to innovations in the U.S. that allow much less energy to drive a higher quality of life.
The report concluded that there is still an enormous untapped opportunity to save energy, with the potential to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050!! If you’re looking for craftsmen who can help you with your next energy-efficient project, give Madden Industrial Craftsmen a call! We can match the right craftsmen with the talents you need to keep building. Connect with us at mici.com.