Creating long-term electricity savings from short-term crises

Publication Type

Conference Proceedings



Prolonged electricity shortfalls undermine economic activity by creating uncertainty, increasing costs and reducing competitiveness.


In the 2005 book Saving Electricity in a Hurry, the IEA presents case studies of countries that mitigated the negative impacts of electricity shortfalls by implementing emergency energy-savings programmes. Programmes included tools such as price signals and information campaigns to encourage energy savings. Tools stimulated and enabled consumers to quickly curb wasteful energy practices, delay certain activities to non-peak times and replace old technologies with more energy-efficient ones. Countries achieved energy savings ranging form 0.5% (in France) to 20% (in Brazil) as a result of these energy-savings programmes.


Since the 2005 IEA publication Saving Electricity in a Hurry, few studies have measured the impact of emergency energy-savings programmes or provided recommendations for best practice in this area.


This paper Saving Electricity in a Hurry – an update adds to the existing literature by highlighting preliminary findings and conclusions from post-2005 case studies of electricity shortfalls in Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.


Rather than serve as a comprehensive resource, this paper offers a compilation of recent experience with mitigating electricity shortfalls. It notably:


• draws on case studies to reinforce several well-established emergency-response guidelines on electricity shortfall context and demand-side energy-savings measures;

• suggests a few preliminary insights into best practice for emergency energy-savings programmes; and

• proposes areas for future work.


The preliminary findings highlighted in this paper will interest government, academic, private sector and civil society stakeholders who inform, develop and implement electricity policy and emergency energy-savings programmes.


ECEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency

Year of Publication




Research Areas