The Power of Getting More from Less
The energy we save is the cheapest, cleanest, and most reliable source of energy.
When considered as a resource, energy efficiency can yield savings that can displace the need for new generation from coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, and other supply-side resources. In the utility-sector, efficiency programs can be traced back to the energy crisis of the 1970s when the concept of conservation emerged as a way to help customers cope with climbing prices. Since this time, energy efficiency has grown to be recognized as a vital aspect of utility operations.
Customer energy efficiency programs have yielded significant energy and economic benefits to the utility system and ratepayers, with typical savings being achieved at 1/3 the cost of new generation resources. Investing in energy efficiency, and the resulting benefits, are now being factored directly into decision making regarding new energy resources and the operation of existing systems.
The Invisible Benefits
While we’ve come a long way with energy efficiency, it is still easy for many planners to lose count of its many benefits. It is really an ‘invisible’ resource, making it hard to grasp and promote. By treating it as an energy resource, efficiency can be put on the same playing field as other sources of energy, enabling utilities to realize the unique benefits it offers.
In addition to being a simple way to reduce consumer costs, energy efficiency also offers various benefits that improve lives while lowering air pollution and cutting emissions. It is the most powerful tool we have to build our economy and tackle climate change so, as an industry, we need to keep making a case for this invisible, but essential, resource!
The Untapped Potential (Mind the Gap!)
One-third of the world’s energy is consumed by buildings, but most buildings are deeply inefficient. There is energy efficiency potential in the residential sector that remains largely untapped. Global energy demand could be cut by one-third by 2050 by merely implementing today’s best practices!
But why is there still so much untapped potential? And, with so many options out there to assist consumers with energy-efficiency upgrades, why aren’t more taking advantage of them? Commonly referred to as the ‘energy efficiency gap’, there are several reasons why consumers may not be acting, such as:
- Inattention and lack of motivation. It is hard for a typical consumer to engage with something they cannot see. Efficiency is also missing a ‘cool factor‘ and needs a makeover.
- Knowledge barriers and misconception. Consumers empowered with personalized information and education on potential savings can become smarter energy users. Knowledge saves power!
- Market imperfections. Real markets don’t perform as well as theoretical markets! There continues to be an opportunity to shape policies to increase energy efficiency.
Our industry is rapidly growing and constantly in pursuit of higher savings goals. Electricity and natural gas programs are expanding efforts and seeking new ways to save, including behavioural change, to overcome the energy efficiency knowledge gap and drive more consumer action.
Nudging to Save Energy
At MyHEAT, we are helping overcome the energy efficiency gap by motivating consumer action through informational and behavioural channels. Our platform reveals potential problem areas in the building envelope by making energy loss visible. We help our partner organizations empower energy consumers to make smarter energy decisions with easy-to-digest heat loss data.
In a recent behavioural pilot, our platform led to:
- 25% more applications for a weatherization rebate program targeting home improvements (ex. Insulation and windows).
- 19% more applications for other efficient upgrades (ex. Smart thermostats and high-efficiency washing machines). This shows that when you get energy consumers thinking about efficiency in one area, they often start thinking about other ways to save.
Visit the MyHEAT Team!
Are you on your way to ACEEE’s 2019 National Conference on Energy Efficiency as a Resource?
MyHEAT is already here! We will be part of the poster session and have a display table with handouts and some Canadian candy. Come say hello and meet the team!
Daygan Fowler, Energy Efficiency Program Manager