Energy efficiency lost a champion earlier this year when Arthur Rosenfeld died
at the age of 90. Rosenfeld was a physicist
who put aside work on subatomic particles
to focus on the use of energy in the here
and now of the mid-1970s oil crisis.
He wanted to “wring the most out of
every kilowatt,” as the Los Angeles Times
reported in a 2010 story. He had geopolitical and environmental reasons for his
passion, two motivating factors which,
combined with financial incentives, can
still drive energy efficiency today.
So how is it going 40 years down
the road that Mr. Rosenfeld first traveled? Whole companies have formed
and grown out of the demand for energy efficiency, while utilities are seeking
some of these partners to help them
figure this out both in the technological
and customer realms.
Much of the world, whether it’s global
or your climate-conscious neighbor next
door, is fearful about the environmental
dangers of fossil-fueled electric power, but
do they know that renewables alone won’t
do the trick? For the true believers, logic
dictates we need energy efficiency to bridge
the gap and make the most out of our
resources without a single drop wasted.
One problem: Few also believe that
energy efficiency is the silver bullet which
solves all the villains that customers and
companies face, whether it’s macroeco-
nomic like global warming or micro like
the monthly electric bill.
“We have four barriers to energy efficiency,”
The second barrier is that customers, if they spend extra money on their
home, would rather make it prettier and
easier to resale than upgrade insulation
and appliances. The third is that many
believe they were sold a bill of goods
on energy efficiency, that it really hasn’t
saved them enough money to justify
the upfront expense. Fourth and finally,
customers do increasingly believe in climate change, as they have seen the weird
weather lately. But it’s not their fault.
“Only six percent connect their home
energy consumption to our environmental footprint,” Shelton said.
Energy Efficiency Movement Balances Both Sides of the Meter
Insulating Against Waste
Targeted marketing and incentives can
work, as utilities have found both on the
residential and business levels. Behind-the-meter solutions can move the needle
if the case is made clearly and realistically.
“There’s no silver bullet; there’s only best
practices,” said Bill Brewer, vice president
of global energy and
with Schneider Electric.
Customers who adopt or
plan to embrace ener-
gy efficiency programs
must develop goals, key
and benchmarking. “I still come back to
key things: It’s around education, pro-
motion and engagement with their user
The best energy efficiency programs
must strike a chord with customers to be
effective. Efforts like Duke Energy’s HoM
Energy Manager and smart thermostats
like Nest offer cutting-edge connected-
ness, but also a sense of control over con-
sumption. And who doesn’t like control?
“We have some leaders or vanguards,
like Duke Energy, Pacific Gas &
Electric and northeastern utilities,”
Brewer said. “ComEd is another one
doing a lot in the Midwest.”