A savings of the amount of energy estimated in Overarching Finding 1 would reverse the growth in energy use forecasted by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA, 2008). Instead of increasing from 99 quadrillion Btu (99 quads) in 2008 to 111 quads in 2020 and 118 quads in 2030, as forecast by the EIA (2008), full deployment of cost-effective, energy-efficient technologies would cause U.S. energy use to fall to 89–92 quads in 2020 and 82–88 quads in 2030.
Table 5.1 shows that reducing electricity use in buildings provides the greatest opportunity for energy savings. In fact, these potential savings are so large that, as indicated in Overarching Finding 2, the effects on electricity generation could be dramatic.
The full deployment of cost-effective, energy-efficient technologies in buildings alone could eliminate the need to add to U.S. electricity generation capacity. Since the estimated electricity savings in buildings from Table 5.1 exceeds the EIA forecast for new net electricity generation in 2030, implementing these efficiency measures would mean that no new generation would be required except to address regional supply imbalances, replace obsolete generation assets, or substitute more environmentally benign generation sources.
The potential savings summarized above are very attractive. As discussed in Chapters 2 through 4, however, many barriers to the deployment of energy-efficient technologies exist, even though the adoption of such technologies is projected to save money over time. These barriers include potentially high up-front costs, alternative uses for investment capital deemed more attractive, the volatility of energy prices leading to uncertainty with respect to the payback time, and the lack of information available to consumers about the relative performance and costs of technology alternatives.