It's easy to understand why renewable energy receives most of the press. Photos and videos of sunsets reflecting off solar panels, or wind turbines spinning across a scenic field, make for great and compelling imagery for reporters to use in their articles and TV reports.
A less-understood, less-covered, but equally important element of the current U.S. energy evolution is energy efficiency.
I know what you're thinking: that's old news. Jimmy Carter pushed energy efficiency in the 1970s, and Americans were too lazy and certainly not ready to take his message to heart. Fair enough. So why is now different? Even if your friends and family roll their eyes at the idea of energy efficiency, the benefits remain. Here are four facts about energy efficiency that should make you pay attention.
1) Companies in the energy-efficiency industry are innovative, well supported and, best of all, huge job creators.
The United States economy is still recovering from 2008's economic collapse. To continue its growth, creative companies with strong balance sheets and the ability to employ people domestically will fuel the economy's return to full strength.
Did you know companies in the energy efficiency space meet all those criteria?
"There's tremendous opportunity to develop new business models that leverage the innovations in energy efficiency technology," says Jason Gates of Compology, a San Francisco-based company that produces energy efficiency management equipment for the waste management industry. "For a business to succeed in energy efficiency, the economics have to make sense when compared to other offerings in the same category. The smart companies are figuring out how to do that."
Investors are placing their money on behind-the-meter technology, including control systems, monitoring programs and storage capabilities. Entrepreneurs with similar experience in other industries are joining the race toward the next big breakthrough, and are hiring innovative thinkers to join them. The energy efficiency industry will play a huge role in adding jobs to a recovering economy.
2) Businesses are discovering energy efficiency investments provide a higher and faster return-on-investment (ROI).
Once businesses discover how much money is escaping through energy system inefficiencies, they start investigating energy efficiency. With new command-and-control software linking all of the energy-assets within a site, facility managers can control energy distribution precisely. Think of it this way: Now facility managers can do with massive energy systems what homeowners are already doing through technology like the Nest thermostat and LED light bulbs.
For example, consider a pick-up and delivery service with 40 box trucks, each with approximately a 40-gallon tank. The largest energy cost for this business is diesel or natural gas that only get around 10 miles per gallon. At the national average of $2.30/gallon for unleaded ($2.52/gallon for diesel), it costs the business $92 per each fill-up ($101 for diesel). With such low gas mileage, the energy costs add up quickly.
Using an energy efficient dynamic routing system, similar to the platform developed by Compology, the company can reduce the number of trucks they need by up to 40%. The reduction in trucks to 24 reduces the fuel bill from $3,680 to $2,208 ($4,040 to $2,424 for diesel). In a business with tight margins, those savings are enormous.
3) Energy efficiency is easier to implement and operate than ever before.
Homeowners are discovering how easy it is to implement energy efficiency monitors like eMonitor and eGauge. These devices allow homeowners to see their energy use in real-time and adjust accordingly to lower their energy costs. Now, the same level of energy efficiency monitoring is available to facility managers at the largest and most complex and critical facilities. And the industry's leading companies will not only install the systems, but monitor them for their customers, too.
"It saves facility managers having to log into the system," says Tom Willie of Blue Pillar, a Frederick, MD-based company that provides Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and energy management technology to facilities. "When an alert comes in, our software lets the manager know -- and their team can fix the problem before it becomes a crisis."
How much easier can it get? Hire a company that is using innovative technology to create robust network systems. They will install it, monitor the equipment and energy use, and ensure the lights stay on at all times. It's a no-brainer.
4) Energy efficiency is increasingly syncing with the fast-growing renewable energy industries.
As distributed generation continues to spread (i.e., businesses producing their own power on-site) with renewable energy like solar and wind, energy efficiency networks must be able to integrate into these systems. After all, renewable energy sources can't reduce climate change solely on their own. Storage and energy efficiency devices enhance, maximize and multiply the positive effects renewables have on carbon emissions -- these three pillars work best as a package.
"Energy storage devices improve self-consumption and provide distributed resources with the ability to offset grid fluctuations," says Greg Maguire, VP of Sales and Marketing at JuiceBox Energy. "We believe that generating, storing and distributing electricity in your home will soon be as common as how we currently generate and store hot water in our homes today."
Now that you have a better understanding of the critical role energy efficiency plays in your energy consumption, engage with an energy efficiency expert today to reap the benefits -- and then encourage your friends and family to do the same.