Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments

Local Energy - Efficiency Benefits and Opportunities

Benefits of Energy Efficiency

Using energy more efficiently is one of the fastest, most cost-effective ways to save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, and meet growing energy demand. The many benefits of energy efficiency include:

  • Environmental: Increased efficiency can lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other pollutants, as well as decrease water use.
  • Economic: Improving energy efficiency can lower individual utility bills, create jobs, and help stabilize electricity prices and volatility.
  • Utility System Benefits: Energy efficiency can provide long-term benefits by lowering overall electricity demand, thus reducing the need to invest in new electricity generation and transmission infrastructure.
  • Risk Management: Energy efficiency also helps diversify utility resource portfolios and can be a hedge against uncertainty associated with fluctuating fuel prices.

Local Opportunities to Improve Energy Efficiency

Local governments can take a range of approaches to promoting energy efficiency, both in their own operations and in their communities. The links below provide background information, options for increasing energy efficiency in that sector, actions local governments can take, and technical assistance and informational resources.

  • Local Government Operations and Facilities – Energy costs can be a significant line item in a local government’s annual operating budget. By investing in energy efficiency, local governments can achieve substantial energy cost savings across their facilities, and demonstrate energy and environmental leadership. In addition to improving the efficiency of existing and new facilities, local governments can incorporate energy efficiency criteria into product procurement decisions..
  • Water and Wastewater Facilities – Municipal water and wastewater facilities are typically the largest consumers of energy in municipal operations. Improving the energy efficiency of equipment and operations at water and wastewater facilities can reduce energy costs, GHG emissions, and increase treatment efficiency.
  • Non–Governmental Buildings – Government buildings typically account for a relatively small percentage of the total GHG emissions of a jurisdiction. Strategies to improve the energy efficiency of commercial, industrial, and other non-governmental buildings allow local governments to achieve much greater benefits than by focusing on their buildings alone.
  • Residential – In 2013, greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity consumption in the residential sector amounted to nearly 6 percent of total U.S. emissions.1 Helping homeowners improve energy efficiency in their homes can be an effective strategy for local governments to reduce energy demand, help households save money, improve comfort and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Utilities and Energy Efficiency Program Sponsors – By working with electric and gas utilities, regional energy efficiency alliances, and other organizations dedicated to improving energy efficiency, local governments can leverage resources and capitalize on the expertise and unique abilities of utilities and alliances to improve energy efficiency among end users in their jurisdictions.

1 Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1900-2013 (April 2015) Full Report