Post tagged with "efficiency"

Our Thinking

New McKinsey study finds that small behavioral changes can slash home energy use by 16-20%

  • By Barry Fischer
  • November 12, 2013

The next big wave of residential energy efficiency improvements in the US may not require installing efficient lightbulbs, putting insulation into walls, tuning up your air-conditioner, or even investing in quadruple-paned windows. Instead, a large chunk of the nation’s energy savings in the coming decades may come from a decidedly less technical resource: human behavior.

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Outlier

Giving credit where credit is due: between 1973 and today, energy productivity has been USA’s largest energy resource

  • By Barry Fischer
  • October 18, 2013

How does a country vastly grow its economy without using heaps more energy? Let’s examine the case of the United States over last forty years – courtesy of a recent annual study published by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Since 1973, the US economy has grown by 287% (from $5.4 trillion to $15.5 trillion). You’d expect that energy consumption would also have correspondingly increased, to fuel that growth. But it hasn’t. Annual energy consumption has ticked up by less than 50% over the same period.

Zooming in on the years 1999-2012 provides additional color to this tale of energy-lean growth: US economic output in 2012 was 25% bigger than in 1999, but the nation’s energy consumption was actually lower in 2012 than in 1999. A related and equally astonishing energy fact about 2012: US oil consumption was even lower than it was 1973.

This eye-catching trend – namely that the economy has grown rapidly while energy use has stayed relatively flat, as shown in the chart below — suggests that the country has made enormous strides in “energy productivity.” In others words, America has become better and better at doing more with a given amount of energy.

Source: NRDC (October 2013)

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Our Thinking

At annual E Source Forum, Opower utility partner showcases efforts to put the smarts in smart thermostat programs

  • By Barry Fischer
  • October 1, 2013

In a given year, nearly 50% of the energy used in American homes goes toward heating and cooling. But, thanks to the pioneering efforts of many utility companies empowering their customers with “smart thermostats” — which enable households to control their home’s temperature more easily and efficiently than ever – that percentage appears set to shrink.

The potential for smart thermostats to engage utility customers and help them reduce their energy bills was a key theme in late September at the E Source Forum — an annual energy industry event that convened more than 400 attendees in Denver to discuss the adoption of energy efficiency programs and strategies for utilities to build their customer relationships.

On Wednesday, during a Forum session entitled “Putting the Smarts in Smart Thermostat Program,” Pacific Gas and Electric’s Brian Smith (an Analyst in the utility’s Customer Energy Solutions division) showcased the early results of a yearlong PG&E/Opower program partnership that has deployed smart thermostats to residential and business customers across northern and central California.

Pacific Gas and Electric’s Brian Smith showcases the ins-and-outs of the PG&E/Opower Smart Thermostat program during the 26th Annual E Source Forum in Denver

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