Energy efficiency saves both money and emissions: new studies

Ilario D'Amato
Reading time: 3 minutes
1 April 2016

LONDON: Energy efficiency measures keep electricity costs low while also lowering costs of complying with environmental regulation, a new series of factsheets by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) shows.

The paper ‘How Much Does Energy Efficiency Cost?’ analyzes recent studies that further reinforce how the upfront costs of investing in energy efficiency are easily surpassed by the cost savings.

In fact, a study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory indicates that on average, across all sectors, energy efficiency programs are costing program administrators about US$0.024 per kWh saved over the lifetime of the energy efficiency measures installed – a number that rises to US$0.138 in the low-income sector.

*Source: Energy efficiency program portfolio data from ACEEE report ‘Molina, The Best Value for America’s Energy Dollar: A National Review of the Cost of Utility Energy Efficiency Programs’. All other data from Lazard 2015

The data clearly shows how energy efficiency is the ‘cheapest and cleanest fuel’, since its costs are much lower than any new power plant with any resources or technology. Speaking to The Climate Group’s Climate TV during COP21 last December, Dan Hamza-Goodacre – who runs the Energy Efficiency program at ClimateWorks – told us that energy efficiency measures could save US$3 trillion by 2030.

Cost-effective solution

Governments are already implementing energy efficiency measures to save money and emissions. A recent survey held at the United States Conference of Mayors in Washington DC earlier this year shows that US mayors rank energy efficient LED lighting as the most promising technology for city managers to reduce energy use and carbon emissions over the coming two years.

Image from the survey 'How Energy Technologies are Reshaping America’s Cities', courtesy of the United States Conference Of Mayors

Energy efficiency is also crucial for states that want to lower costs of electricity for their citizens, as the ‘Energy Efficiency Lowers the Cost of Clean Power Plan Compliance’ paper states.

However, market barriers are slowing the wider implementation of such a win-win solution. In order to achieve large-scale efficiency, governments must quickly implement policies that can be integrated on a regional and national level.


A too-often overlooked side of energy efficiency is energy productivity, which is about getting more economic output from each unit of energy. The US government has endorsed the goal of doubling national energy – a target that by 2030 will save US$327 billion a year in energy costs, add 1.3 million jobs and reduce CO2 emissions 33% in the US.

To help the world’s most influential businesses in their journey to doubling their energy productivity, the EP100 campaign – which The Climate Group serves as the Secretariat for – offers a forum for sharing best practices and showcasing the leadership of companies making progress toward bold, public commitments on energy productivity.

“The recent results reiterate that energy productivity combined with clean energy represent the least-cost decarbonization pathway,” underlines Bryan Jacob, Campaign Director EP100, The Climate Group.

Energy efficiency is also central to buildings of the future. Today, our homes are responsible for 24% of the world’s final energy demand – which amounts to 17% of global CO2 emissions. The Climate Group’s new project Home2025 looks at how consumers can act on climate by choosing better, technologically-advanced low carbon products for their homes which can greatly transform wider systems homes are connected to such as electricity, construction and mobility.

In the electricity section of the project, many contributions from sector experts highlight the transformational power of energy efficiency. According to Home2025, innovation will guide the electricity industry to lower energy consumption to meet the world’s fast-growing energy use – allowing a consumer-powered low carbon transition.

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