Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Energy News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Addressing climate change should start with energy efficiency
by Staff Writers
Ames IA (SPX) Dec 08, 2015

Yu Wang says a lack of information and other market barriers keep many homeowners from investing in energy efficient measures. Image courtesy Christopher Gannon, Iowa State University. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Replacing an old incandescent lightbulb with new LED lighting might seem insignificant in reducing energy consumption. It is a simple step, but an effective one that shouldn't be overlooked, said Yu Wang, an assistant professor of political science, who studies global energy policy and energy efficiency, at Iowa State University.

"Many people consider energy efficiency to be the low-hanging fruit," Wang said. "If you're facing the target of trying to mitigate climate change, energy efficiency should be the first choice because it's cheap and easy in comparison with other options."

Most importantly, energy efficiency programs and policies reduce overall energy use, without requiring consumers to conserve or cut back their current level of service, Wang said. According to her estimates, implementing a combination of energy efficiency measures, at home and at work, could yield potential electricity savings of 10.2 percent by 2035.

Wang and colleague Marilyn Brown, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, analyzed federal, state and local energy policies for their book, Green Savings: How Policies and Markets Drive Energy Efficiency. Their research shows how effective policies lead to greater energy savings and greenhouse gas reductions.

"Most of the current programs and policies for energy efficiency can provide significant energy savings at a cost that is lower than the retail rate that we pay for electricity," Wang said. "That means if you invest in energy efficiency, you will be able to get your money back and at the same time save energy."

Why aren't consumers embracing efficiency?
Based on Wang's projections, it is unusual that more consumers are not implementing energy efficiency measures in their homes. Unfortunately, many will never realize these savings because of a lack of or misinformation about different options and other market barriers, Wang said. The misconception that homeowners must invest a lot upfront before they realize any cost savings is just one example.

But there are programs helping consumers navigate and understand the energy-efficiency market. The Home Energy Squad - sponsored by two Minnesota utility companies - is an effective information-based program, Wang and Brown highlighted along with other outstanding efficiency programs in their book. Wang says the Home Energy Squad conducts a comprehensive energy audit and provides homeowners with a detailed list of energy-efficient upgrades and recommendations. Homeowners know upfront what it will cost and how much they can save.

"Energy efficiency programs don't only look at your old appliances such as an old refrigerator or microwave. They also look at the cooling and heating equipment or old windows that need to be replaced," Wang said. "Sometimes they will also help you to install all the possible measures and offer financial supports."

Several utility companies offer similar programs, but there is little incentive to do so because of the for-profit business model, she said. Reducing energy consumption reduces profits for utility companies which charge consumers based on electricity usage. Wang says state and local governments need to remove this disincentive by decoupling utility revenue from sales.

Effective, enforceable policy needed
It will take a global effort to mitigate the effects of climate change. Wang says the federal government needs to lead the way by setting a national target for energy efficiency, and the U.S. has a lot of room for improvement when compared to other countries. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked the U.S. 13th (out of 16) on its 2014 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Germany topped the list. The U.S. came in behind China, India and South Korea.

This international comparison is important, because climate change is not specific to one country or region, Wang said. The lack of a national energy efficiency policy or target is one area in which the U.S. failed when compared to other countries. She says multiscale complementary government policies will maximize savings.

"That could mean having a unified, consistent national target and giving states the flexibility to choose specific programs they want to run or specific technologies they want to subsidize or support," Wang said.

She added that it will take a combination of financial incentives, regulations and information-based policies to make a visible difference. There are several leaders - including Massachusetts and California - which local and state governments can learn from and adopt similar policies. Enforcement is also critical. Wang says some states have stringent building codes, but do not follow through on compliance.

Wang stresses that all avenues, including conservation efforts and renewable energy sources, are necessary to address climate change. However, the energy efficiency market is a more affordable option than many renewable sources and does not require consumers to change their habits and routines.

"We should not just forget about the demand-side resources, and energy efficiency is one of them that can save us a significant amount of energy and at the same time save us money," Wang said. "Energy efficiency is such an important, low-cost solution to climate change."

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Iowa State University

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Banks move to support sustainable transport sector
Paris (UPI) Dec 3, 2015
A group of multilateral development banks announced from Paris they were committed to finding a sustainable way to address emissions in the transport sector. The Asian, African, Inter-American and Islamic Development Banks joined the European Bank for Reconstruction, the European Investment Bank, the CAF-Development Bank of Latin America and the World Bank in pledging to speed up action ... read more

Addressing climate change should start with energy efficiency

CO2 emissions set for historic fall in 2015: study

Banks move to support sustainable transport sector

China vows massive clean-up of power plants: Xinhua

Scientists see the light on microsupercapacitors

Storing electricity in paper

Saft to supply LION batteries to power Textron control stations

36 countries launch world alliance for geothermal energy

Pilot Hill Wind Project Closes Financing from GE and MetLife

German power giant RWE to spin off renewables business

Big UK cities vow to run on green energy by 2050

SeaPlanner New Features Launched on Nordsee One Offshore Wind Farm

FSU researchers pushing limits of solar cells

New plastic solar cell minimizes loss of photon energy

A molecule that self-assembles into flower-shaped crystalline patterns

EIA tracking small-scale solar PV capacity and generation across US

Nuclear power as panacea for climate change? Experts divided

Ship carrying nuclear waste arrives in Australia

Hungary open to dialogue with EU over nuclear plant expansion

Nuclear power crucial for UN climate goal: top scientist

OX2 wins concession for one of Sweden's largest biogas plants

Brazil pins renewable energy hopes on 2nd generation ethanol

A more efficient way of converting ethanol to a better alternative fuel

Now is the time to uncover the secrets of the Earth's microbiomes

China's indigenous SatNav performing well after tests

China launches Yaogan-29 remote sensing satellite

China's scientific satellites to enter uncharted territory

China to launch Dark Matter Satellite in mid-December

In the trench war over climate text, a little means a lot

Money row threatens efforts to seal historic climate pact

Rockefeller-inspired climate action mobilizes $3.4 trillion

Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement