Study Concludes Information-Based Energy Efficiency Can Save Americans Billions

May 23, 2011

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(Fort Collins, CO – May 23, 2011) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) today announced the findings of a major study analyzing the impact of information-based energy efficiency programs at eleven utilities across the country. The report identifies energy reductions that could generate billions in savings for Americans and reduce carbon (CO2) emissions by more than 8.9 million metric tons per year if extended nationwide.

The findings were announced by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper as part of a bill signing ceremony today at Colorado State University’s Engines and Energy Conservation Lab. Fort Collins Utilities participated in the EDF study and implemented an information-based energy efficiency program in November of 2009.

EDF Report – Behavior and Energy Savings

The EDF analysis released today relies on data gathered from 11 different gas and electric utilities in six states (including Fort Collins Utilities), encompassing more than 750,000 households across the country. The utilities partnered with Opower, an energy management software company, to roll out its Home Energy Reporting program. The data analyzed includes more than 22 million meter reads gathered over periods of a minimum of twelve months from each of the deployments. The report analyzes the effectiveness of these programs and estimates the impact of taking these savings to the national scale – findings include:

  • On a national basis, informational-based energy efficiency programs have driven individual household savings ranging from an average of 1-3 percent per year. This amounts to millions of dollars in aggregate savings for home electricity customers – simply through small behavior changes;
  • EDF concludes that if every home in America reduces their energy use by the average in this program, projected energy usage would drop by more than 26,000 GWh per year;

    o Energy Savings: These savings could power every home in Colorado, and still have enough left over to cover everyone in Utah as well
    o Economic Savings: A reduction of energy use this size would reduce electricity bills by $3 billion each year across the U.S.
    o Environmental Savings: Eliminating electricity waste on this scale would reduce CO2 emissions by more than 8.9 million metric tons per year – equal to the emissions from three 500-MW coal-fired power plants
  • Fort Collins Utilities: Fort Collins rolled out its information-based energy efficiency program to 25,000 customers in November 2009, and the EDF analysis shows the average household savings is 2.1%. A separate OPOWER analysis identified more than $600,000 in aggregate savings. This is equivalent to taking 662 homes off the grid, or 854 cars off of the road.


You may download a copy of the study, Behavior and Energy Savings, here.

“Energy efficiency is widely considered one of the greatest untapped energy resources. This study confirms that simple behavioral changes generate consistent savings across a wide range of utilities and demographics. The study researched programs that serve both urban and rural areas in states across the country, and found that savings are not limited to one demographic. The message is clear: customers empowered with information on energy usage are more likely to save energy and money, all while reducing their carbon footprint.”

               - Kate Robertson, Energy Efficiency Specialist at Environmental Defense Fund

“The EDF report shows that Opower programs like the one in Ft. Collins are giving consumers the information they need to reduce their energy usage and save money. If every household in America made the same reduction, we’d see utility bills fall by over $3 billion every year – and by $31 million in Colorado alone. This study and the results here in Ft. Collins demonstrate that behavioral change energy efficiency is among the lowest cost approach to saving bill payers money, hitting utility efficiency goals and reducing emissions. The cheapest, and cleanest, kilowatt-hour is the kilowatt-hour not used, and I encourage all of Colorado’s utilities to continue accelerating their efforts and implementing energy efficiency programs.”

               - Tanuj (“TJ”) Deora, Director of Colorado Governor Hickenlooper’s Energy Office

“We believe that the majority of Americans are interested in energy efficiency – they just need the right tools and information to improve and reduce excess energy usage. The EDF study demonstrates the transformative power of information. By providing customers with more information about how energy is being used in their homes, utilities across the country can empower their customer base to save money through smart energy choices.”

               - Alex Laskey, Co-Founder and President of Opower