TexasIsHot – Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficient Gadgets

Jan 11 2012

US Beats Energy Savings Expectations

Americans tend to beat themselves up over their imperfections. We eat too much, watch too much TV and owe China too much money. Despite all of our sloth, we can feel good about one area: our progress saving energy.

A report issued this week by the Institute for Electric Efficiency found that we saved enough electricity to power almost 10 million homes in 2010 (about 112 MWh). That’s 21 percent better than we did the previous year. And it looks like when 2011 data comes out, we’ll have done even better.

You’re saying, “Who me? Not possible. I forget to shut off the lights, my computer stays on all the time and my kids won’t get off the Xbox.”

Therein lies the beauty of energy efficiency today; it requires no huge effort on our part. New appliances, light bulbs, thermostats, heating and cooling systems and electric gadgets are increasingly designed with energy efficiency in mind.  Those with an energy conscience don’t have to fumble in the dark and cold.

The report studied programs offered by utilities, which spent $4.8 billion in 2010 on energy efficiency, about 28 percent more than the previous year, and $6.8 billion in 2011, a 25 percent increase.  Utilities are expanding their energy efficiency efforts so quickly that IEE expects them to surpass optimistic forecasts that they will dedicate $12 billion annually to efficiency by 2020.

“This steady increase in electricity savings is really impressive. And the growth in electric utility expenditures for energy efficiency is the major reason behind it,” said Lisa Wood, IEE Executive director. (No relationship to me.)

Efficiency is considered a good investment because it’s cheaper to save energy then make energy. The report pegs the cost of saving energy at 3.5 to 4.3 cents/kWh. Check your utility bill – chances are buying electricity costs you a great deal more.

Our success stems from energy efficiency resource standards, which are savings requirements set by state governments. Typically, the requirements mandate that utilities save a set percentage of energy annually. About half of the states, representing two-thirds of the US’ population, now have these standards, according to IEE.

Some states and regions are doing better than others when it comes to energy efficiency. California continues to be the top state when it comes to spending on energy efficiency, with a budget of $1.5 billion, well above second place state, New York, with $1 billion. The Pacific Northwest follows with about $559 million, and then comes Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Arizona.

California’s effort is particularly impressive in light of its demographics. While its electric efficiency budget represents 22.6% of total U.S. utility electric efficiency budgets, it uses only 6.9 percent of US electricity and its share of the population is only 12.1 percent, according to IEE.

Several states that did not make the top 10 are quickly improving their programs. The IEE report found that five states have doubled their energy efficiency budgets for 2011. These states are Indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia. Washington, DC also doubled its budget.

See the full IEE report here

Read More From Elisa Wood

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  • "In order to meet our goals, we need programs like the TexasIsHot campaign to help change the way people think about energy." - State Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), Chairman of Senate Natural Resources Committee
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  • "If every Texas household adopted just a few of the dozens of energy efficiency strategies referenced on TexasIsHot.org, our air would be cleaner, our limited supply of natural resources would be better protected, and our wallets would be heavier..." Kip Averitt (R-Waco), Former State Senator and Chairman of Senate Committee on Natural Resources
  • ”The TexasIsHot campaign targets an important piece of the clean energy effort -- educating Texans on the way we use electricity and quantifying the financial and environmental costs associated with our use. By just reducing the amount of electricity we use and waste, TexasIsHot.org can show people how to save money..." State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin)
  • "Fluctuating energy costs are really hurting Texas families and businesses, but by just making a few easy changes, Texans can cut down on energy waste. TexasIsHot.org is a tremendous resource which arms consumers with the information they need to save themselves money by becoming more energy efficient, and help our environment." State Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston)
  • "Texas is the third fastest growing state in the nation with a net growth of 1,000 people each and every day. This brings many challenges including providing clean and affordable electricity. That is why I'm excited about TexasIsHot.org. This website is an instructional resource that will help Texans save on their energy bills at home and in the workplace..." State Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford)
  • "Now, more than ever, Texans need to work together to conserve energy and to make more efficient use of the energy we consume. The TexasIsHot.org website is an extraordinary resource for people who want to save money and help conserve our precious natural resources..." State Rep. Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas)
  • "By partnering with the TexasIsHot Coalition we can extend our effort’s reach, leverage our resources, and ensure that Austin’s energy grid continues to be a test-bed for technologies, products, and services that will transform our state’s energy system." Brewster McCracken, Executive Director, Pecan Street Project
  • "The City of Houston is working harder than ever to make Houston green and energy efficient, but we need the help of every citizen. I would encourage everyone to take a moment to explore the TexasIsHot website to learn what we can all do to make Houston, and the rest of Texas, the green and energy efficient example for the rest of the nation." Mayor Annise Parker, Houston
  • "Energy efficiency is one of our top priorities. Partnering with the TexasIsHot Coalition will help us educate citizens and local businesses about energy-efficient practices in order to meet our goal of reducing residential and commercial electric use." Gavin Dillingham, Chief of Sustainable Growth – General Services Department, for the City of Houston
  • "We are excited about the new partnership that the City of Corpus Christi has entered into with the TexasIsHot Coalition. TexasIsHot.org provides a platform to educate policy makers, city employees and citizens on how to save money and help the environment by conserving energy..." Mayor Joe Adame, Corpus Christi
  • "I am excited that the City of Corpus Christi has joined the TexasIsHot Coalition and look forward to working with them to help Texans become smarter energy users. Energy efficiency is by far the best way for people to reduce their bills and help the environment, but we need education and outreach to make this happen." State Rep. Solomon Ortiz, Jr (D-Corpus Christi)
  • "Because of its fast growth and hot summers, Texas has to get smarter about energy conservation. I applaud the efforts of Corpus Christi and TexasIsHot to help businesses and residents reap the benefits of increased efficiency." Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
  • "Energy efficiency is the cleanest, quickest and cheapest way to get smart about energy use, saving both money and the environment. I applaud the TexasIsHot Coalition in their effort to educate Texans about the benefits of energy efficiency..." Luke Metzger, Director, Environment Texas
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