Few benefits are provided by electric power plants, coal mines, oil pipelines, and other energy supply systems aside from the energy they produce. Technologies to improve energy end-use efficiency, however, offer numerous non-energy benefits. One class of such benefits accrues at the national level-improved competitiveness, energy security, net job creation, environmental protection-while another relates to consumer decision-making.
From a consumer perspective, it is often the non-energy benefits that motivate (or can be used to promote) decisions to adopt energy-efficient technologies. A striking example is the rapid penetration of microwave ovens into the housing stock. While energy savings from microwave ovens can be substantial, the non-energy amenity and convenience factors clearly have driven consumer adoption.
Consumer awareness of non-energy benefits is also important to utilities, energy service companies, and others seeking to sell efficiency. While energy-efficient technologies help provide equivalent services at lower costs, non-energy benefits can actually add value or enhance the energy services delivered by efficient technologies. In addition, where certain market segments are not sensitive to economic arguments (e.g., in the proverbial "landlord-tenant" split-incentive situation), some non-energy benefits can assume special importance:
For consumers, non-energy benefits can equal or exceed the importance of the energy cost avoided, thus meriting greater consideration in marketing strategies, design and evaluation of utility programs, and government policies designed to promote energy efficiency.
For a more detailed discussion, see our new publication entitled "Consumer Non-Energy Benefits as a Motivation for Making Energy-Efficiency Improvements," by Evan Mills and Art Rosenfeld. LBL Report 35405 submitted to the 1994 ACEEE Summer Study on Buildings and available through the Center for Building Science.
Note: Art Rosenfeld has accepted the position of Senior Advisor to Christine Ervin, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, and plans to spend the next two years in Washington. He can be reached at (202) 586-6593 (phone), -9260 (fax), or via email.
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