Governmental investments in energy efficiency have paid off handsomely in
the past, costing about 3% of the savings they’ve generated so far.
Efficiency reduces waste, using the same amount of input to produce more output.
Increases in vehicle fuel efficiency can save more than fifteen times as much oil as the likely yield from the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. We do not have to despoil pristine wilderness areas to meet our energy needs. Because the United States only has 3 percent of the world's oil reserves we can't drill our way to oil independence. Fuel efficiency is the smart way to go for both the environment and the economy.
Comprehensive energy efficiency policies could lower national energy use 18% in 2010 and 33% in 2020.
Increased CAFE Standards. Gradually raising the standard by 5 per cent annually would result in a savings of about 2.1 quads of energy per year in 2010 and about 7.6 quads in 2020. The European Association of Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA) have already agreed to a voluntary agreement with the EU to increase their fuel efficiency to approximately 40 miles per gallon by 2008 and to approximately 50 mpg by 2012. The NRDC has estimated that improved CAFE standards could save about 4.2 quads in 2012 and about 10 quads in 2020—more than twice our current imports from the Persian Gulf.
Improve standards for replacement tires. The rolling resistance of replacement tires is about 20 percent higher than tires shipped with new vehicles. Since fuel efficiency is inversely proportional to rolling resistance, any improvement in resistance yields a similar improvement in fuel economy. NRDC projected that a policy requiring replacement tires to be at least as fuel-efficient as original equipment tires would increase fuel economy of the on-road fleet by about 3 percent when fully phased-in in four years. Over the next 50 years, the savings amount to about 1.7 times the amount of oil expected from drilling in the ANWR. Michelin estimated that the additional cost for the improved tires would be about a dollar each.
Incentives to scrap older inefficient vehicles. Provide states with grant funding to establish a voluntary program for those who are looking for a financial incentive to get rid of older, less fuel-efficient cars. The Senate's energy bill of 2002 had a section designed to provide a cash payment to owners who scrapped their old cars, with a larger rebate if they subsequently bought a new fuel-efficient vehicle.
Extend Energy Star ratings to vehicles. The Energy Star program has worked well for appliances, and would make it easier for consumers to make informed choices about vehicle purchases. Increased awareness of fuel efficiency would lead manufacturers to build and promote more efficient vehicles, and give fleet owners a justification for buying more efficient vehicles. Promotions and product discounts similar to those for current Energy Star products could facilitate increased market penetration for fuel-efficient vehicles.
Double federal funding for energy efficiency. This would result in a budget of $1.22 billion in FY2003.
Increase funding for energy efficiency research, development, and deployment. by $170 million in FY2002
Performance-based tax incentives for efficient new buildings and equipment. (S.207-Smith-Feinstein) Providing tax deductions for new energy-efficient buildings, solar hot water, photovoltaics, air conditioners, and heat pumps could save 30,000 megawatts in peak power, over 100 power plants.
Provide a tax credit for retrofitting existing homes to make them more energy efficient. Offering consumers a tax credit equal to 20% of their retrofit costs, capped at $2,000, would save 17.4 billion kWh of electricity and 1.8 quads of heating fuel. This provision was included in both the Bingaman and Murkowski energy bills.
Tax credits for energy efficient appliances. A two-tier tax credit based on the level of energy efficiency would provide an incentive for appliance manufacturers—primarily refrigerators and clothes washers—to improve the efficiency of their products. This provision was included in the Grassley-Lincoln appliance credit bill, S.686 in the 107th Congress.
Extend EnergyStar recognition to the industrial sector. Companies that reduce energy use by a significant amount each year could qualify for the Energy Star designation. To support this program, the government would offer technical assistance, postpone tax measures if enough industries participate and succeed in reducing energy consumption, and expand federal RD&D for sectors with sufficiently high participation. This program could save as much as 3 quads of energy by 2010.
Strengthen Energy Efficiency Standards for Appliances and Buildings. Requiring a SEER 13 level (30% greater efficiency than standard) for residential central air conditioning could save 12,900 megawatts, the equivalent of 43 power plants
Support combined heat and power installations (CHP). DOE estimates that thermal energy losses from power plants in the U.S. total about 23 quads a year. The Senate's 2002 energy bill offered tax incentives for CHP that the ACEEE estimates would save about 4.8 quads between 2002-2020. CHP installations are capital-intensive, but the payback period is relatively short—about 2.2 years. As with other distributed energy applications, CHP also requires regulatory stability to encourage investment.
The CHP industry, DOE, and EPA set the goal of doubling U.S. CHP capacity between 1999 and 2010, adding approximately 50,000 megawatts of new capacity, the equivalent of an additional 1 quad of energy per year.
Implement standards for standby electronic equipment.
Implement standards for commercial air conditioning and heat pumps. The Consortium for Energy Efficiency developed Tier 2 standards, which are roughly 32% more efficient than current minimums.
Implement standards for additional products — commercial refrigeration equipment, commercial distribution transformers, illuminated exit signs, traffic lights, residential torchiere lighting fixtures, electronic devices that leak electricity when not in use
Implement standards for residential furnaces and boilers. The Consortium for Energy Efficiency has identified three tiers of performance—similar to Energy Star ratings—for furnaces (90%, 92%, and 94% efficiency vs. the current DoE minimum of 78%) and boilers (85% vs. DoE minimum of 80%). This could save roughly 12% of the energy used for furnaces: 13 trillion BTUs by 2010 and 98 trillion BTUs by 2020.
Enforce/Improve Commercial Building Codes: Hold ASHRAE accountable for its resolution to improve 90.1-1999 standards by 20%. Under DoE's EPAct power, require states to adopt it—improve energy efficiency of new commercial buildings by 20%. Estimated savings: 19,000 megawatts, or 63 power plants
EPAct amendment. to make its residential codes requirements, based on IECC 2000, mandatory for state adoption. Residential code requirements would avoid the need for more than 40 power plants in 2020; 30 year savings of 7 quads for IECC adoption in all states (ASE and DOE)
Improve the energy efficiency of weapons systems and the military. The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest federal agency and the nation's largest consumer of energy—more than $5 billion a year of the DoD budget is spent on energy, mostly on fuel consumed to move other fuel from place to place. Increasing the proportion of renewables and distributed energy in the mix would reduce both the size and vulnerability of the logistics system. Intelligent redesign could save as much as half the energy presently consumed. The Defense Science Board Task Force recommended in 2001 that the DoD:
Align Government procurement with energy efficiency. The federal government should be a leader in energy efficient buildings, appliances, and vehicles. We should encourage local schools to build green by tying federal aid to energy efficiency.