If cost is an indicator, energy efficiency is on the road to success.
Since they first emerged in the 1970s, efficiency technologies and programs have helped the country meet its tremendous appetite for energy while addressing the need to eliminate pollution and alleviate pressure on the grid.
A study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory observes that for the greater part of the last decade, they have saved money, too.
The analysis, “Still the One: Efficiency Remains a Cost-Effective Electricity Resource,” shows that the cost of saving electricity remained relatively constant for the period from 2010 to 2018, at less than $0.03 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). By comparison, the study looked at data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency, which estimates the levelized cost of electricity of new resources at $0.03–$0.12 cents per kWh.
This cost comparison demonstrates that it costs less for utilities to implement efficiency programs than it does to develop new sources of power. Efficiency resources include building codes and standards, residential consumer product rebates and prescriptive and custom programs for commercial and industrial customers.
The Berkeley Lab collected data on costs and annual energy savings for efficiency programs from 62 utilities and other program administrators in 21 states.
Of note, the study found that among residential programs, residential consumer products had the lowest cost of saving electricity and reducing peak demand. Lighting topped the list of programs with the lowest cost.
For the commercial and industrial sector, prescriptive programs have the lowest cost of saving electricity, and custom programs have the lowest cost of reducing peak demand. Prescriptive programs cover a set of pre-approved measures, such as rewards for installing more efficient technology and performance-based financial incentives. Custom programs typically include an on-site energy assessment and identifying and installing site-specific measures.