U.S. Building-Sector Energy Efficiency Potential

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Journal Article

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This paper presents an estimate of the potential for energy efficiency improvements in the U.S. building sector by 2030. The analysis uses the Energy Information Administration's AEO 2007 Reference Case as a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, and applies percentage savings estimates by end use drawn from several prior efficiency potential studies. These prior studies include the U.S. Department of Energy's Scenarios for a Clean Energy Future (CEF) study and a recent study of natural gas savings potential in New York state. For a few end uses for which savings estimates are not readily available, the LBNL study team compiled technical data to estimate savings percentages and costs of conserved energy. The analysis shows that for electricity use in buildings, approximately one-third of the BAU consumption can be saved at a cost of conserved energy of 2.7 ¢/kWh (all values in 2007 dollars), while for natural gas approximately the same percentage savings is possible at a cost of between 2.5 and 6.9 $/million Btu (2.4 to 6.6 $/GJ). This cost-effective level of savings results in national annual energy bill savings in 2030 of nearly $170 billion. To achieve these savings, the cumulative capital investment needed between 2010 and 2030 is about $440 billion, which translates to a 2-1/2 year simple payback period, or savings over the life of the measures that are nearly 3.5 times larger than the investment required (i.e., a benefit-cost ratio of 3.5).

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