EE products are devices that reduce electricity consumption on a consistent basis. EE products are available in the residential, commercial, and industrial spaces, and generally do not require any changes in the consumer’s or operator’s behavior in order to be effective.
Description of EE technologies
High-efficiency lighting and variable speed motors are prime examples of EE technologies. According to an April 2009 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), lighting has accounted for roughly one-fifth of all energy consumed in commercial buildings in recent years. More electricity is consumed by lighting than any other individual end use1. However, high-efficiency lighting is reducing this percentage. Meanwhile, in the home almost half of residential consumption is dedicated to heating and cooling2, systems which rely on variable speed motors to reduce energy consumption.
A variety of industry- and government-driven programs exist in the energy efficiency space, chief among them the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ENERGY STAR® program. Products earn the ENERGY STAR label by meeting specific performance requirements set by the EPA. These requirements are reviewed on a periodic basis and revised based on changes in technologies and market statistics3. Meanwhile, the NEMA Premium™ programs for electric transformers, motors, and electronic lighting ballasts offer guaranteed measures of performance based on a consensus definition of “premium efficiency” over non-premium products.
EE’s role in outage prevention and service restoration
Energy efficiency is about the overall reduction of demand, but it is most significant in terms of peak reduction. The undeniable fact is that the U.S. population continues to grow and with it comes an ever-increasing appetite for electricity. Without energy efficiency measures in place, the demand curve would exceed the capacity of the nation’s electrical infrastructure and continue to grow at a rate faster than new infrastructure could be built. Brownouts would become much more common as is the case in many third world countries today.
In 2009, McKinsey & Company released a report on energy efficiency stating that “the U.S. economy has the potential to reduce annual non-transportation energy consumption by roughly 23 percent by 2020, eliminating more than $1.2 trillion in waste—well beyond the $520 billion upfront investment (not including program costs) that would be required. The reduction in energy use would also result in the abatement of 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse-gas emissions annually—the equivalent of taking the entire U.S. fleet of passenger vehicles and light trucks off the roads4.”
2 EIA estimates 49% at www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/reports/2009/electronics.cfm, while EPA estimates 46% at www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_where_money