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Energy-Efficiency Strategy Could Cut Household Bills by $450 a Year

Federal Building Code Would Have Biggest Impact, Report Says

By Stacy Feldman

Mar 15, 2010

Aggressive federal energy efficiency policies, such as building codes and appliance standards, would put money in consumer wallets in every state.

That's the message of a new that adds to evidence of the economic potential of curbing energy use. Analysts at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) calculated that U.S. citizens would save $301 to $451 annually on average on their utility bills in 2030, if the nation slashes projected energy use by 20 to 30 percent, or 1 to 2 percent per year.

The report is one of the first to look at how strong federal efficiency policies would shrink home energy bills. Nationwide, households would save between $37 billion and $66 billion over two decades.

The savings would be a "cushion to soften the blow" of costlier climate measures, said Mark Cooper, the study's author and research director at CFA, a consumer group of 300 organizations.

"Efficiency lowers consumer bills, which provides an important cushion against other aspects of climate policy that might push bills up," Cooper wrote.

To do the analysis, CFA looked to the states. The report is based on 24 state-level studies over 10 years and three recent reports from the National Research Council, McKinsey & Company, and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The level of achievement varies widely. The research reveals that around six states have been able to slash energy use by 1 to 2 percent over the past two decades. In the 10 states with the strongest efficiency policies, energy use grew by an average 2.6 percent from 1990 to 2007. In contrast, the most inefficient energy users saw a 16.7 percent leap.

"The fact that a significant number of states have achieved a much higher level of efficiency is an indicator of the possibility for a much higher level of performance by all states," Cooper wrote.

California is the stand-out example. Energy consumption there has been almost flat for 30 years, while at the same time it shot up 50 percent nationwide. The savings are thanks to appliance and building standards, and utilities trimming back.

In Vermont — currently the "most aggressive state in promoting energy efficiency," according to CFA — energy consumption was above the national average three decades ago. By 2004, it was 30 percent below the rest of the country.

That can happen across America, CFA says, for less than half the current or projected price of energy.

The report puts the cost of conserved electricity at 3 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), compared with electricity prices that are just over over 9 cents per kWh.

Overall, the projected pocketbook savings are "very conservative estimates of the benefits consumers would see," Cooper said. The study does not factor in rising energy prices, improvements in technology or coming carbon regulations — all of which would add value to the efficiency resource.

Building Code 'Largest Long-Run Impact'

To successfully cut energy use to the level the report advocates will take federal provisions to mandate more efficient buildings, Cooper told SolveClimate.

The single most important thing the U.S. Congress can do this year is to adopt the House-passed federal building code and ensure all 50 states enforce it, he said.

Last June, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), which would put a price on carbon emissions for the first time. The bill included regulations that would require new buildings to be 30 percent more efficient by 2012 and 50 percent more efficient by 2016.

The program would have the "largest long-run impact by far," Cooper said.

But the bill seems highly unlikely to become law, courtesy of the U.S. Senate. That chamber appears to be dumping an economy-wide carbon-price pact altogether in favor of a hodgepodge of energy-only policies.

Simple lifestyle measures that increase.

Whilst we continue to seek alternative less damaging resources our usage continues to spiral. What can be done in the coming years to reduce our reliance on power, bigger buildings, larger homes, and fast cars?  I would embrace a world of a more moderate approach to living standards such as increased community living that is based on local produce, local manufacturing and simple lifestyle measures that increase our pleasure rather than consume all that is available

Alex Gaston

Concerns regarding the state

Concerns regarding the state of the environment, increased U.S. dependence on foreign oil imports and the need to diversify the country’s energy resources have led to increased research in developing more energy efficient ways to produce power. Encouraging both energy efficiency and conservation will not only protect the environment, but promote national energy security, save consumers money and strengthen the economy. Want to learn more about balanced energy for America? Visit Consumer Energy Alliance to get involved, discover CEA’s mission and sign up for our informative newsletter.

Space Age Buildings

The advent of the computer has caused massive advances in Science, and we cannot possibly retrofit older buildings and compete with the amazing new technologies! Imagine just the plastics, super insulators, passive solar understandings, latest HIVAC knowledge, new glass with astounding electrical properties - the Architects can hardly adapt to all that is new and good for producing "Zero running cost - Zero upkeep" housing, which is now technologically very possible! Expect sustainability and pricing within income expectations to moderate designs in the near future as Americans approach their EROI limitations ans feel the pinch of a burgeoning Asian demand for a larger share of the finite amount of light sweet crude available in the world today! No more McMansions for Yankee Doodle! his dollar has fallen too low! Survival shelters and sustainability and payable, predictable mortgages are more likely to be rolled out. Refitting the slums of Detroit City for example, total nonsense! Not going to happen in America! Build new sane sized Eco-shelters with good sense materials and close to the electric bullet trains, subways, trams streetcars and buses, as the oil dries up and life goes on! People cannot buy what they cannot afford, we already tried that and failed miserably, learned, and will do better next tine around!

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