Report: 'Intelligent efficiency' could trim U.S. energy use

June 7, 2012

A new report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) highlighted how the U.S. can sharply cut its energy use by using a new approach targeted at improving efficiency.

As organizations across the country are looking to increase efficiency and lower energy costs and consumption levels, adopting technology like smart meters and other system-based approaches can help to achieve this goal.

This type of push for a reduction of energy use has been spearheaded by organizations like the Department of Energy-designated innovation Hub, the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub).

The EEB Hub is comprised of some of the brightest minds from academia, the private sector, government and energy development companies, and is working to promote energy efficiency through the reduction of consumption for commercial buildings.

The ACEEE report highlights some ways that a framework can be established for this type of energy efficiency push, as the authors noted that the U.S. can take advantage of currently available information and communications technologies that limit waste and inefficiencies.

According to the report, a reduction of 12-to-22 percent could occur if system efficiencies were enabled through the use of technology in the U.S., and business models should be adjusted in order to include these advanced methods and practices.

"This is not your father's device-driven approach to energy efficiency," said Neal Elliott, associate director of research at ACEEE and lead author of the report. "A large portion of our past efficiency gains came from improvements in individual products, appliances, and equipment, such as light bulbs, electric motors, or cars and trucks. And while device-level technology improvements will continue to play an important role, looking ahead we must take a systems-based approach to dramatically scale up energy efficiency to meet our future energy challenges."

Elliott highlighted the need for a combination of technology and innovative systems approaches, along with increased investments by companies and the government.

Environmental & Energy Management News noted that the report said there may be three barriers that exist to this adoption of intelligent efficiency: societal, financial and structural.

Tax reform, redefining the regulatory environment and investing in the development of human capital were all things that the government could do to further stimulate the push for energy efficiency, according to the news outlet.