Energy Efficiency Report Highlights Commercial Buildings, Ducts, and Power Supplies

December 8, 2004

Without a doubt, there are a multitude of technologies for saving energy currently in the works, from light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for lighting to advanced compressors for air conditioners. But which of these is most likely to have an impact on U.S. energy use? A new report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) tackles that question by reviewing 200 emerging energy-saving technologies and practices, and ranking them based on their potential to save energy at low costs. Some technologies and practices, such as advanced window glazings, earned bonuses for avoiding lost opportunities in new building construction; others, such as evaporative coolers, earned bonuses for their potential to save energy in limited regions. Overall, the highest scores were earned by a diverse group of technologies and practices: new leak-proof ducts and duct-sealing systems; integrated design of high-performance buildings; "retrocommissioning," which means going over an existing building to correct problems and make sure its systems are operating efficiently; and standby power systems for home appliances that use 1 watt or less.

Photo of Robyn Hladish of the University of Maryland, filling a front-loading washer during the 2002 Solar Decathlon.

Front-loading washing machines are one of the high-priority energy-saving items in the 1993 report that have found their way into the mainstream.
Credit: Warren Gretz

While the report itself is informative and interesting (including summaries of 66 energy efficiency technologies and practices), its comparison to similar reports prepared in 1993 and 1998 is enlightening. Since the first report in 1993, 16 technologies have moved into mainstream acceptance, 7 have remained a high or medium priority, 2 have moved down to a low priority, 3 were moved into the special bonus category, and 24 are no longer included. Among the technologies now in the mainstream are improved washing machines and dishwashers, improved inkjet printers, low-power televisions, and bright screw-in compact fluorescent bulbs. See the ACEEE press release or go directly to the report.