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Next-Generation Programs to Keep Energy Efficiency Savings Rolling In

New technologies and innovative program designs are combining to create the next generation of energy efficiency programs that can meet the aggressive saving targets being set by many states, finds a new report. “Frontiers of Energy Efficiency: Next Generation Programs Reach for High Energy Savings,” by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), finds that these technologies and programs can offer the potential to achieve and sustain high savings: 27% of forecasted electricity use and 19% of forecasted natural gas use by 2030.

“Natural gas isn't the only abundant energy resource in this country – we’ve also discovered deep reservoirs of energy efficiency,” said Dan York, ACEEE utilities program director and lead-author of the report. “As our report shows, energy efficiency opportunities are abundant. Even as tried and true energy efficiency measures become commonplace, we continue to dig deeper and find new technologies and practices plus new program approaches to unlock further opportunities to achieve large energy savings.”
 
Energy efficiency programs for utility customers have been in place for over three decades in many areas in the United States. These programs have experienced unprecedented growth over the past decade, in significant part because of policies that establish high, specific energy savings targets to be achieved through energy efficiency programs.

Over the next two decades, achieving and sustaining high savings levels present challenges for energy efficiency programs. Increasingly stringent building codes and energy efficiency standards for appliances and other technologies are moving baseline energy efficiency performance higher. Achieving high participation rates has been difficult for certain types of programs. The technologies and programs profiled in this report offer an answer to these concerns.
 
While savings opportunities exist for all types of customers, the report finds some of the greatest potential exists for renovations and retrofits of homes and commercial buildings. Lighting also remains a large source of energy savings, along with building mechanical systems and a variety of electronics.

Reaching more customers is another direction for next generation programs. Improved understanding of more narrowly defined customer segments through better data analytics can enable program administrators to structure and focus incentives and marketing to increase participation. Programs are successfully serving customers in markets that historically have been difficult to reach, such as multifamily housing and manufactured homes. Another clear trend across program portfolios is an emphasis on better understanding customer behavior and motivations in order to design programs that engage greater numbers of customers to take actions that save energy.
 
The report examines a total of 22 different program types and concepts, from residential lighting to commercial buildings to industrial processes, and examines a wide range of energy efficiency technologies, including light-emitting diode (LED) lighting; high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment; and combined heat and power (CHP) systems. The research draws upon extensive interviews completed with a large number of experts on customer energy efficiency programs and technologies and includes numerous examples of where these leading principles and practices are being used or tested.

“This report will be a valuable resource for those looking to help utility customers save money by using less energy. With a wealth of information on the leading edge of program designs and energy efficiency technologies, this report shows that program designers have an increasing number of options to achieve greater energy efficiency,” said Maggie Molina, ACEEE state policy senior manager and report co-author.
 
To access the full report, “Frontiers of Energy Efficiency: Next Generation Programs Reach for High Energy Savings.

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