Energy-efficiency programs stimulate economic growth, increase energy security and access, and lower consumers’ energy costs while helping countries meet growing demand and development objectives.
This toolkit explains how energy efficiency is a low-cost strategy that can support economic development, promote energy security, increase access to affordable and reliable energy, and reduce emission of pollutants. It introduces key concepts and benefits, and provides guidance on the process of creating and implementing energy-efficiency programs.
Energy powers heating, cooling, and lighting for homes and businesses. For example, factories use energy for industrial processes, which can be fundamental to economic development. Treatment plants use energy to produce clean drinking water, a critical public service. When these services are energy efficient, it means they can be provided using fewer resources, such as oil, natural gas, or electric power.
Efficiency solutions may involve technologies, such as light fixtures or air conditioners; building components, such as insulated windows; or strategies, such as occupancy sensors.
Energy efficiency can significantly offset the need to seek, extract, and consume new resources. The International Energy Agency (IEA) found that energy efficiency improvements put in place around the world between 2000 and 2016 reduced global energy use in 2016 by 13 percent. The Clean Energy Access Program, or CLASP, a nongovernmental organization that promotes energy-efficient appliances, has estimated that several improvements in African markets—such as switching over to more efficient lighting, refrigeration, air conditioning, and motors—could have saved more than 18 percent of Africa’s total 2014 electricity consumption.
Benefits of energy efficiency are:
- Cost savings. Less energy has to be purchased to supply the same amount of services. The savings can then be directed to other purposes: Business owners can improve their operations. Householders can provide more for their families. Schools can purchase books and computers. Hospitals can purchase medicines and treatment equipment.
- Reduced pollution. Pollutants and greenhouse gases (GHGs) can be reduced, sometimes to zero.
- Security and stability in energy markets. Countries with fewer energy resources of their own can reduce their exposure to political and price risks by importing less resources to generate power.
- Reliability and access. Energy efficiency can stretch limited resources to improve reliability and expand access. If generation infrastructure is still needed, greater efficiency can buy time for planning and construction.
Energy efficiency strategies can be implemented relatively quickly. For example, once an efficiency program is set up within a utility of government ministry, within a single year it is feasible for technical staff to assess efficiency opportunities, develop a training program for building operators and engineers, and support building efficiency improvements that produce energy savings.
The sections of the toolkit are previewed below, with links.