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Energy Efficiency

Climate Change Policy Should Start With Energy Efficiency

A new report explores the important role of energy efficiency in policies attempting to address global climate change.

According to Yu Wang, an assistant professor of political science who studies global energy policy and energy efficiency at Iowa State University, while energy efficiency steps such as replacing old lightbulbs with new LED bulbs might seem an insignificant part in the larger climate movement picture, it represents a simple and effective step that shouldn’t be overlooked.

“Many people consider energy efficiency to be the low-hanging fruit,” said Yu Wang. “If you’re facing the target of trying to mitigate climate change, energy efficiency should be the first choice because it’s cheap and easy in comparison with other options.”

Most importantly in the eyes of Wang, energy efficiency programs and policies create reductions in overall energy use without ever requiring customers to modify their current level of service. Thus, according to the study, Green Savings: How Policies and Markets Drive Energy Efficiency, if governments were to implement a series of energy efficiency measures for households and businesses, electricity savings could be found in the range of 10% by 2035.

“Most of the current programs and policies for energy efficiency can provide significant energy savings at a cost that is lower than the retail rate that we pay for electricity,” Wang said. “That means if you invest in energy efficiency, you will be able to get your money back and at the same time save energy.”

There are already several programs that exist, such as the Home Energy Squad, which conducts a comprehensive audit of homes to provide energy efficiency recommendations.

“Energy efficiency programs don’t only look at your old appliances such as an old refrigerator or microwave. They also look at the cooling and heating equipment or old windows that need to be replaced,” Wang said. “Sometimes they will also help you to install all the possible measures and offer financial supports.”

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