Energy efficiency: Why is it so important?
Energy efficiency is simply using off the shelf technology to use energy more efficiently. This includes upgrading to more efficient furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters, and other appliances. It also includes insulating homes better, installing more efficient windows, and simple things like using compact fluorescent light bulbs and weatherstripping around doors and windows.
California is the state with the most experience and success with energy efficiency. The University of California did a study on the impacts of energy efficiency in California from 1972 - 2006. Here are some of the results:
- Ratepayers saved more than $57 billion on their utility bills
- 1.5 million direct jobs were created in the energy efficiency industry
- California consumes 40% less energy per capita than the rest of the country
- California has flatlined growth in energy demand for the last eleven years, despite continued growth in population
Far more jobs are created by energy efficiency than by generating electricity using fossil fuels. Right now, Duke Energy is build a new coal-fired power plant. The cost to build the plant is $3.3 billion and rising. This power plant will create 400 permanent jobs in the best case scenario. Compare this with the 2,200 energy efficiency jobs that have been created as a result of the $131 million Indiana received from the Federal Stimulus Package.
Based on these numbers, we create one job for every $59,545 we spend on efficiency. If we took the $3 billion we are spending on the power plant and invested it into energy efficiency programs, we would create over 50,000 jobs in Indiana.
Keep in mind, the money we are talking about here is OUR money. Whether it is being paid in the form of utility rates or in the form of taxes, OUR money is what is funding these projects. So the question is, how do we want OUR money to be spent?
According to Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, if the bottom 40 states adopted the same energy efficiency standards that the top 10 states have, we could shut off 62% of the power plants in the U.S.
There are many energy efficiency industries in Indiana that would be supported if we were to implement policies that require us to become more energy efficient:
- EnerDel - batteries for electric cars - Indianapolis
- Andersen Windows in Muncie
- GE - LEDs, compact fluorescent light bulbs - Bloomington
- Honeywell - thermostats - Anderson
- Delphi - batteries - Muncie
- Brevini - wind turbine components - Muncie
- Waterfurnace - geothermal heating/cooling - Ft. Wayne
- Trane - geothermal units, Energy Star HVAC - Rushville
- Knauf Fiberglass - insulation - Shelbyville