Energy Efficiency Standards to Save Americans $1.1 Trillion by 2035

WASHINGTON, DC, March 12, 2012 (ENS) – National efficiency standards for appliances, lighting and other equipment will save consumers and businesses more than $1.1 trillion by 2035, according to a study released Friday by two energy conservation groups.

The study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, ACEEE, and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, ASAP, finds that a “typical” household would save about $10,000 from 2010 to 2025.

In terms of energy savings, existing standards will save 200 quads of energy by 2035. A quad is a measure of energy; the U.S. economy uses a total of about 100 quads per year.

This study, “The Efficiency Boom: Cashing In on Savings from Appliance Standards,” shows that existing standards reduced U.S. electricity use by seven percent in 2010.

Energy efficient washers and dryers at work in Scottsdale, Arizona (Photo by Bosch Home Appliances)

Annual electricity savings from existing standards will increase to 14 percent by 2035 as consumers and businesses purchase new products compliant with the latest standards.

“Improving the energy efficiency of everyday products with common sense standards has proven to be one of the best ways to save consumers and businesses money while protecting the environment and avoiding the need to build expensive new power plants,” said Andrew deLaski, executive director of ASAP, a coalition of consumer, environmental, and efficiency groups.

Existing energy efficiency standards cover about 55 categories of products, ranging from home appliances to commercial products such as motors and roof-top air conditioners.

Initial standards for many of these products were signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. Since then, Congress and the Department of Energy have repeatedly added new products and updated standards.

“Standards have been a bipartisan energy policy success story stretching across four decades and five presidencies,” deLaski said.

According to the study, a typical household will save about $10,000 between 2010 and 2025 by purchasing products compliant with today’s minimum standards. A typical household’s total electric bill over this period would be about 33 percent higher without efficiency standards.

Although energy efficient products typically cost more up front, the report found that the cost of more efficient products pays back in lower utility bills within about three years, with net benefits outweighing costs by four to one.

“Energy efficiency standards are beneficial on so many levels,” said David Goldstein, co-director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s energy program. “They help our environment, they help drive innovation and-as this report shows-they help consumers save money with every appliance they plug into their wall sockets.”

Direct natural gas savings from existing standards will reach 950 trillion BTUs by 2035, or enough to heat about one out of every three natural gas-heated homes, the report calculates.

Even greater savings could be achieved, the two organizations believe. “Updates to existing standards and new standards for other products that can be completed between now and 2015 could net consumers and businesses another $170 billion and reduce pollution even further, with another 42 quads of savings achievable with new standards,” they said in a statement accompanying the report.

Mel Hall-Crawford, energy projects director for the Consumer Federation of America, agrees. “There’s no question standards have made a significant contribution to lowering home utility bills,” he said. “And, there are more savings to be gained through future standards.”

To assess the potential impact of future standards, the report evaluates 34 products for which new or updated standards could be adopted within the next four years.

Products with the biggest potential additional energy savings include electric water heaters, reflector light bulbs, distribution transformers, electric motors, and computers. The largest net economic savings would come from standards for new clothes washers and outdoor lighting.

New and updated standards that could be completed by 2015 would reduce 2035 electricity use by another seven percent, the study found.

“Our research found that a combination of updates for existing standards and first-time standards for products like computers, TV set-top boxes, and street lights would add to the track record of big energy, economic, and environmental benefits achieved by standards,” said Amanda Lowenberger, lead report author and senior research analyst at ACEEE.

As for greenhouse gases, the researchers found that existing standards reduced U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by about 200 million metric tons in 2010. They calculate that the annual reduction level will grow to 470 million metric tons by 2035, or roughly the output of 120 coal-fired power plants.

The study estimates that new and updated standards would reduce 2035 greenhouse gas emissions by another 200 million metric tons, or the equivalent of another 50 coal-fired power plants.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.