The decision to improve the efficiency of your home usually starts with wanting to save on your energy bills – but the good reasons definitely don’t stop there. Energy efficiency also delivers major benefits for your community, the environment, and society at large.
It’s obvious but true: the cleanest (and cheapest) kilowatt-hour of electricity is the one that never has to be generated. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) estimates that U.S. energy efficiency measures have eliminated the need for the construction of 313 large power plants since 1990, reducing annual carbon dioxide emissions by 490 million tons in 2015. This means millions of tons of avoided emissions of smog-forming nitrogen oxides, lung-blackening particulate matter, and other harmful pollutants.
Good, Local Jobs
An incredibly wide range of sectors contribute to improving energy efficiency, making it difficult to put an exact figure on the number of jobs specific to this sector. However, the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) estimates that about 2.2 million Americans spend some or all of their time working with energy-efficient technologies and services in construction, manufacturing, distribution, design, and other jobs. For a sense of perspective, that’s more than a third of all U.S. energy industry workers counted by DOE – and twice as many jobs as in the coal, oil, and gas industries!
Stronger, Fairer Economy
The ACEEE also estimates that energy efficiency is saving U.S. consumers $90 billion a year on electricity bills, or about $460 in annual savings per household. Not only that, but these savings have the greatest positive impacts on lower-income families. A joint ACEEE/Energy Efficiency for All study found that low-income households spend three times as much on their energy bills than other households.
So, while it’s often hard to “see” energy efficiency at work – it’s called “the invisible fuel” for a reason – it’s something that’s embedded to varying degrees in every building you see, as well as in our air quality and our economy. And when you invest in your own home’s energy efficiency, you’re not just making a smart decision for your household budget, you’re joining a movement that’s quietly making a huge positive difference in the world.