Have you signed up for LASER’s Home Energy Challenge? If not, join the challenge today! Last week we gave you an overview of how the Challenge will work, but this week we want to focus on why energy efficiency is important for our planet.
Here’s why: Globally and in the US, energy use (in the form of electricity and heating) is responsible for over one-third of total carbon emissions. In order to halve US carbon emissions by 2030 (the Science Based Target), the world will need to rapidly increase its supply of non-carbon energy sources and at the same time will need to increase energy efficiency on the demand side.
Energy Use & Fossil Fuels
Energy use (in the form electricity and heating) is the largest source of carbon emissions because the majority of electricity and heating globally and in the US is still generated from fossil fuels like natural gas and coal, as opposed to carbon free energy sources like solar, wind, hydropower, and nuclear energy. When fossil fuels are transported and burned to produce electricity and heating, they emit greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane. In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, another byproduct of fossil fuel combustion is air pollution in the form of particulate matter. Air pollution stemming from energy use is responsible for over 3 million premature deaths per year worldwide and 230,000 premature deaths per year in the US.
Why Energy Efficiency?
Energy efficiency means using less energy to perform the same task – that is, eliminating energy waste. Moving to cleaner sources of energy is made faster, cheaper, and easier when existing and new technologies use less energy to provide the same or better service. Given the timeline with which we need to get to Net Zero, the lower power density of renewables as compared to fossil fuels, increased projected demand for electricity from electric vehicles, and increases in global population, it will be necessary to reduce energy waste while also increasing our supply of clean energy. In the United States, we would be producing 60% more carbon emissions without the investments made since 1980 in more energy-efficient cars, appliances, buildings, and industry.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), energy efficiency is the largest brake we have for global emissions growth, and can account for more than 40% of the emissions cuts needed to reach Paris Climate Agreement goals. Furthermore, the IEA’s Net Zero by 2050 roadmap identifies energy efficiency as one of the key pillars of decarbonization, with a 4% annual improvement in intensity required up to 2030 – which is about three-times the average rate achieved over the last two decades.
Have questions about the challenge or how to participate? Leave a comment below or send us an email at email@example.com!