The Dollars and “Sense” of Energy Conservation

On the eve of Memorial Day weekend, families across the nation are gearing up for those joyous summer pastimes: vacations to the beach, neighborhood block parties, and summer camp, just to name a few.  Yet, for many families summer also means time to crank up the air conditioner and watch that utility bill rise.  In order to beat the heat but still hold onto their wallets, homeowners are increasingly turning to efficiency and conservation to keep their electric bills low.

The basic math of energy conservation is pretty, well, basic. Use less, pay less.  Fortunately, this simple concept has caught on in a huge way.

In a new report from consulting firm Deloitte, 83% of energy consumers have taken steps to reduce their energy usage and save money, compared to 68% in its 2011 survey.  While most of the persons identified the recession as a reason for this recent energy frugality, 94% of those surveyed believed they will continue to implement energy saving measures even if the economy improves.

It’s not just homeowners focused on energy savings.  Ninety percent of businesses surveyed in the report have set some of type of energy management goals and practices, mostly to cut costs and ensure the business remains competitive.  As CEA highlighted in its Sustainability Report 2010, the private sector continues to make tremendous strides in energy efficiency and conservation, efforts which have paid off significantly for these businesses and their customers.  For instance, when Dow Chemical first set its sustainability goals, it projected the company would spend $1 billion to fulfill these objectives and receive a return on investment of about $2 to $3 billion.  A few years later, that return on investment has exceeded $5 billion.

We have to give a high-five as well to the energy providers and utilities that have strongly promoted energy efficiency programs.  Over half of consumers surveyed reported that they have received good tips from their energy providers on ways to easily conserve energy.  Even better, many utilities have begun offering interactive tools for customers to monitor and moderate energy usage. One of the cooler tools we’ve seen allows Facebook users to “compete” with their friends to see who’s saving more energy.

While it’s awesome news to learn how widespread energy consciousness has become, we understand that for many businesses and homes additional energy savings will be a little tricky.  As the report illustrates, 69% of businesses anticipate that cutting energy costs below the “low-hanging fruit” will be challenging.  Notwithstanding current efficiency efforts, U.S. energy consumption is projected to increase significantly over the next twenty years.  This is why it’s all the more important to support businesses and consumers who work to overcome hurdles to energy conservation and advance sensible, cost-effective solutions.

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