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NRC Finds Savings In Energy Efficiency

by Jeff Johnson
December 14, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 50

Credit: Dreamstime
Buildings could reduce energy use significantly with efficient technologies.
Credit: Dreamstime
Buildings could reduce energy use significantly with efficient technologies.

Full deployment of energy-efficiency technologies in U.S. buildings alone could eliminate the need to construct new electricity-generating plants through 2030, according to a report by the National Research Council. Energy efficiency could reduce projected U.S. energy use by 17 to 20% by 2020 and 25 to 31% by 2030, as well as cut carbon dioxide emissions, says the report, "Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the U.S." This dispatch is the last in a series of NRC energy reports. Energy-related activities in buildings draw 70% of U.S. electricity, the report notes, and replacing inefficient appliances could cut this consumption by 30%. In manufacturing, the report says, deployment of industrial efficiencies could lead to energy savings of 14 to 22% by 2020, particularly in energy-intensive sectors, such as chemicals, refining, pulp and paper, steel, and cement. Barriers to implementation, however, include high up-front costs and a lack of confidence among investors that they will see an adequate rate of return. Also, the report says, a shortage of trustworthy information hampers decision-making by consumers when considering whether to purchase high-efficiency equipment.


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