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Social and Environmental Impacts of Energy Efficiency

I recently participated in a discussion on a podcast and here are some of the excerpts.  

Firstly, what is Energy Efficiency? 

Energy Efficiency is simply a way of using less energy to perform the same tasks thereby eliminating energy wastes. Some of the benefits include reducing costs on households and the economy, reducing greenhouse gases emissions, reducing demand for energy imports. 

What is Carbon Neutrality? 

Carbon neutrality is achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal. This is mostly done through carbon offsetting or eliminating carbon emissions altogether. 

A lot of utility companies in the North East are aiming at carbon neutrality in the next 10-30 years. A study done by ACEEE (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy) which aims to attain 80% carbon neutrality by 2050 says that 50% of this goal could be reached through energy efficiency methods and programs.  

Some of the energy efficiency measures include air sealing, domestic hot water savings measures, sealing of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) ductwork , installation of energy efficient lighting, insulation, HVAC equipment, DHW heating equipment, HVAC and Domestic Hot Water controls, appliances, windows, connected Wi-Fi Thermostats, lighting fixtures and lighting controls in dwelling units, exteriors and common areas.  

There is a lot of new technology which supports all these measures for example in the HVAC world, there are new boilers with new variable frequency drives controls installed, new hot water pumps, and variable speed electrically commutated motor (ECM) circulator pumps on heating and hot water boilers.  

In CT where I live and work, some of the numbers realized from energy efficiency programs in 2019 are:  

  • Energy savings equivalent to a 149MW power plant (enough to power approximately 53,700 homes for a year) 

  • 228,142 tons of CO2 emissions avoided 

  • 39,000 jobs were supported  

These numbers are from the 2019 report of the Energy Efficiency Board of Connecticut

Faratoluwa Oyenuga's picture

Thank Faratoluwa for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 8, 2020 10:18 pm GMT

Interesting stuff-- thanks for sharing Faratoluwa! Where can we listen to the full podcast?

Faratoluwa Oyenuga's picture
Faratoluwa Oyenuga on May 8, 2020 11:54 pm GMT

Thanks Matt. You can listen to the full podcast by following this link:

Julian Jackson's picture
Julian Jackson on May 10, 2020 8:56 am GMT

Interesting podcast, Thanks Faratoluwa.  I'm very interested in energy effciency because of course "negawatts" - the energy that you don't use costs no money and emits no pollution. Here in the UK we have a lot of old housing stock which needs insulation and other improvements.  Thx for the energy saving tips!

Dr. Amal Khashab's picture
Dr. Amal Khashab on May 10, 2020 1:03 pm GMT

Negawatt costs one-tenth of a produced watt not for free.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 10, 2020 3:15 pm GMT

Important to recognize a "negawatt" provides none of the benefits a watt of energy provides, either.
For one-tenth of the cost of a produced watt, we get exactly...nothing. "Nothing for something" has always been a difficult investment to justify.

Eric Van Orden's picture
Eric Van Orden on May 13, 2020 2:31 pm GMT

Nice highlights and numbers! From your perspective, does energy efficiency and demand response provide the same values for individual consumers, as well as our shared environment and society? Or, are there some different benefits for each, especially as we approach 2050 where more intermitent generation sources are likely to be part of the mix? 

Faratoluwa Oyenuga's picture
Faratoluwa Oyenuga on May 13, 2020 10:09 pm GMT

Yes it does provide actual savings for the consumers which then translates to the entire community. These figures were gotten from the records of all the individual projects done last year. The end user definitely benefits as they see a reduction in their monthly bills and their carbon footprint also  reduces. Some of the savings from the measures pay back the cost of installation in a few years. 

Katherine Johnson's picture
Katherine Johnson on May 18, 2020 2:09 pm GMT

Quantifying the societal and environmental benefits of energy efficiency programs is becoming an important strategy to broaden the reach of energy efficiency programs.

Several states, including Illinois, are busy investigating the non-energy benefits (or non-energy impacts) from energy efficiency programs. Naturally, the biggest benefits are those that accrue at the societal level due to reductions of harmful air emissions.

The EPA developed two tools, AVERT and COBRA, that monetize the health impacts of reduced air emissions such as reductions in respiratory ailments. These benefits are then captured in the Societal and Participant level cost-benefit testing.  

 While a few states have laid the groundwork for quantifying Societal and Environmental benefits, this trend is likely to continue across the U.S. Exciting times indeed as we explore more ways to capture all of the benefits of effective energy efficiency polices.


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