Opinion

The cleanest, most affordable energy is efficient energy

Author: Howard Geller - October 5, 2018 - Updated: October 4, 2018

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Howard Geller

Coloradans have special reason to celebrate this year’s National Energy Efficiency Day today, a time to recognize all the advantages that increasing energy efficiency offers including lower energy bills, improved comfort at home and work, and reduced air pollution. Energy efficiency also helps our state conserve our precious water and create jobs.

Simply put, energy efficiency is the art of getting the same or better performance using less energy – all while cutting utility bills for households and businesses. We should view it as another clean energy resource, along with the solar and wind resources that Colorado also has been developing. But embracing solar and wind without also adopting energy efficiency measures is like buying a sports car with a leaky engine – the machine just won’t perform as well as it should. Simply put, Colorado needs energy efficiency as the most fundamental, affordable, and effective kind of clean energy.

We know that reliable, affordable energy is vital to our economic prosperity – and energy efficiency gives Colorado a big assist in that regard. Cutting energy waste saves U.S. consumers hundreds of billions of dollars on their utility bills annually, up to $500 per household from appliance efficiency standards alone. Consumers save $2 to $3 on their utility bills for every $1 invested in energy efficiency measures.

What’s more, more than 2.2 million Americans work to produce, sell and install energy efficiency measures; these are clean energy jobs that can’t be outsourced — including more than 32,000 jobs in Colorado.

Since increasing energy efficiency reduces the amount of electricity we need to power our lives, it helps avoid power plant pollutant emissions that harm our health and warm our climate. It also conserves Colorado’s precious water resources by reducing the water consumed in the cooling systems of power plants.

More than a decade ago, the state legislature passed important energy efficiency legislation (which was updated in 2017). As a result, investor-owned electric utilities in Colorado significantly ramped up their energy efficiency programs. Thanks to the programs implemented during 2008-2017, the utilities reduced the demand for electricity by about 11 percent in 2017, equivalent to the electricity used by 460,000 typical Colorado households. As a result, families and businesses in Colorado will save nearly $1.5 billion.

Energy efficiency is also important in how we travel and ship our products. More efficient vehicles reduce air pollution and improve the health of all Coloradans. That’s why Gov. Hickenlooper has directed state agencies to adopt Clean Car Standards, an action that could reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Colorado by over 2 million tons per year by 2030 and save consumers an average of $3,000 per vehicle in reduced fuel costs.

A nationwide network of energy efficiency groups and partners has designated Oct. 5 as the national annual Energy Efficiency Day. Coloradans should join in recognizing that energy efficiency benefits their lives, the state economy and the environment.

Howard Geller

Howard Geller

Howard Geller is the executive director of SWEEP, a public interest organization he founded in 2001 in Boulder.