Energy Efficiency as an Energy Resource
Efficiency is not something that the majority of people would associate with being an energy resource. Instead, we tend to think of tangible items such as gas, coal, water, and sunlight as energy resources. It is often difficult for people to include efficiency in this list not only because it is not a tangible item, but because it does not directly provide energy. Although it doesn’t directly provide energy, it does reduce energy demand and prevents energy from being wasted. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) defines efficiency, in regards to energy, as “an energy resource capable of yielding energy and demand savings that can displace electricity generation from coal, natural gas, nuclear power, wind power, and other supply-side resources” . Essentially, efficiency allows to you receive the same performance while saving money and using fewer resources.
To put the dramatic impact that energy efficiency has as a resource into perspective, the Alliance to Save Energy stated that, “we saved 57 quads in 2012 due to energy efficiency and conservation efforts taken since 1973. This is more energy than we get from any single energy source, including oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear power” . The Alliance went on to estimate that, “if we tried to run today’s economy without the energy-efficiency improvements that have taken place since 1973, we would need about 60 percent more energy supplies than we use now” . These statistics make it clear that conservation efforts, including energy efficiency measures, have made an impactful difference on energy demand.
A multitude of benefits are also the direct result of energy efficiency measures. Greenhouse gas reduction, for example, is good for the environment as it helps preserve our natural resources and cuts down on pollution which positively impacts our environment along with our health. These measures also save people money by decreasing energy demand which results in lower utility bills. Finally, these measures help improve the economy by saving billions of dollars a year in avoided energy costs and creating a plethora of new jobs.
With world energy consumption projected to grow 48% by 2040  and our natural resources being rapidly depleted, it is clear that energy efficiency, in conjunction with renewable resources, will play a vital role in determining the sustainability of our world. Efficiency measures have already made a positive impact on our world, but they still need to be expanded. Starting to view energy efficiency as a resource is a great way to show people creative ways to make a difference and invest in our future.
By: Brian Hyland