The U.S. economy has the potential to, "save money, curb emissions of global warming pollutants, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and cut energy consumption by 23% by 2020, merely by taking sensible, practical steps to use energy more efficiently," says a recent study by McKinsey & Company a global management consulting firm.
The savings would be the equivalent of taking the entire U.S. fleet of passenger vehicles and light trucks off the road, states the report, and be worth some $1.2 trillion. However some $520 billion upfront investment will be needed, the report adds.
Although many energy-saving measures are practicalturning down thermostats, making appliances more energy-efficient, etc.there are many, "widespread and persistent" barriers to achieving the full potential savings, the report states. It will require an "integrated set of solutions," which will include information and education, incentives and financing, codes and standards and deployment of resources above current level, according to the report.
Any national debate about how to achieve the potential energy savings in the timeframe cited will need to take into account five key observations, the report adds.
Recognize energy efficiency as an important energy resource that can help meet future energy needs while the nation concurrently develops new no- and low-carbon energy sources
Formulate and launch at both national and regional levels an integrated portfolio of proven, piloted, and emerging approaches to unlock the full potential of energy efficiency
Identify methods to provide the significant upfront funding required by any plan to capture energy efficiency
Forge greater alignment between utilities, regulators, government agencies, manufacturers, and energy consumers
Foster innovation in the development and deployment of next-generation energy efficiency technologies to ensure ongoing productivity gains.