Climate change is a growing concern in North America. We’re already seeing some of its consequences, with warmer temperatures and more extreme, less predictable weather over the past decade. Nevertheless, we continue to burn massive amounts of fossil fuels to satisfy our energy needs, sending troublesome levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. How can we best combat the phenomenon? Numerous studies show that energy efficiency is the cheapest, easiest way to meet our climate goals.
Inexpensive to Deploy
The climate goals of the United States are currently defined through the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, which dictates CO2 levels that states need to meet by 2030. In a recent report, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) assessed six different studies on the effects of the new rules. In all six, there is a common thread – improving our efficiency is the most cost-effective way to achieve the standards.
The studies were conducted by a variety of different observers: the EPA, the Clean Air Task Force, Energy Ventures Analysis, National Economic Research Associates (NERA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Rhodium/Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Despite starting with different assumptions, all of the studies project that energy efficiency will be the most used and least-cost option for states to implement the plan, and that overall electricity consumption will decline as a result,” C2ES fellow Jason Ye writes on the organization's blog. “In addition to being relatively inexpensive to deploy on its own, energy efficiency reduces the need to build new, costly power plants in the future.”
Show Me the Money
The average consumer might be more worried about what the plan means for their household utility bills. Fortunately, the news isn’t too bad; the plan could cost the average home as much as $87 per year, or 25 cents a day – nothing to sneeze at, but not crippling to the family budget, either.
More optimistic forecasts project that households could actually save money under the Clean Power Plan. The savings would be due to an increased reliance on cheap renewable energy as well as investments in household efficiency technology, which would reduce the amount of consumption and therefore lower utility bills.
The total savings could be much greater. None of the plans take into account the savings the nation could realize by averting some of the more devastating impacts of climate change, nor do they assess improved health care outcomes that could result from a reduction in airborne pollution.
Take Climate Change Into Your Own Hands
You don't have to wait until 2030 to do your part in the fight against climate change. Look for some easy ways that you can reduce your energy consumption around the home, or ask an electrician to conduct an energy audit and point out even more ways you can cut back. The environment, not to mention your pocketbook, will thank you.