The US records growth in overall natural gas efficiency savings


According to Steven Nadel, executive director of ACEEE and author of the whitepaper, said the gas energy efficiency study aims to:

  • Provide a brief summary of natural gas efforts and accomplishments
  • Look ahead at natural gas efficiency-related opportunities and issues

The paper issued in July provides a long term natural gas energy efficiency trends through analysing natural gas consumption per unit for residential, commercial and industrial consumers since 1973.

According to the study, the consumption of natural gas increased in the US during the 1970s due to the country’s 1973 energy crisis. However, as from 1985, energy efficiency savings increased as both energy prices and consumption decreased.

The industrial and utility sectors have the least energy efficiency savings due to an increase in the use of natural gas as gas is being used to replace fossil fuelled power generation.

The US has experienced very high use of natural gas in generating electricity under efforts to reduce carbon emissions through the retirement of coal-fired and nuclear-powered electricity generation.

On the other hand, the residential sector has since 1995 to date experienced continued increases in natural gas energy efficiency.

Drivers of gas energy efficiency

According to the findings of Steven Nadel, factors contributing towards an increase in natural gas energy efficiency include:

  • The emergence of new technologies, appliances and equipment such as less energy consuming lighting systems, gas furnaces and dish washers
  • Price effects: The rise in costs of natural gas during times of energy crisis such as demand response times and 1973 to 1984 energy crisis period.
  • The introduction and implementation of billing codes. According to the Pacific Northwest Laboratory, billing codes reduced US energy use by 0.5 quadrillion in 2012 and is expected to save 2.2 quads by 2040.
  • Appliance and equipment efficiency standards: The introduction and upgrading of state and federal efficiency standards have also played a leading role in increasing the energy efficiency of gas consumers in the US.
  • An increase in the deployment of utility funded energy efficiency programmes. In 2015, gas utilities were found to have saved $1.4 billion in consumer energy bills by deploying energy efficiency programmes for their consumers.

ACEEE concludes that although energy efficiency savings have increased, the overall consumption of gas is slowly increasing due to the use of gas for electricity generation.

Some of the recommendations ACEEE presents towards an increase in natural gas energy efficiency include:

  1. The use of combined heat and power systems in electricity generation. The use of natural gas combined heat and power systems which traps and makes use of waste heat to power turbines is predicted to be 80% energy efficient compared to ordinary gas powered energy generation plants. Currently, combined power and heat systems are being used to generate a total of 83GW. ACEEE calls for increased utility investments towards the development and operation of combined heat and power systems.
  2. Coordination between natural gas, water and electric utilities in marketing energy efficiency programmes to reduce costs associated with deploying the programme. Read more…


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