For a long time, I considered the U.S. to be world-leaders in energy consumption awareness, energy conservation and renewable-energy use. This was largely due to their strict long-standing energy-efficiency policy, and their comprehensive investments in the energy related fields of IoT (Internet of Things), Big Data, and AI, which enable smart decision-making, energy conservation, and more.
It therefore came as a great shock to me to discover in my recent researches that the U.S., the second biggest consumer of energy in the world, was ranked #10 for energy-efficiency, out of the 25 largest economies, by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy in 2018. In fact, a whopping 68% of all energy (35% of residential-energy) that flows through the U.S. economy is actually rejected energy; energy that gets wasted through inefficiency, costing Americans a collective $130 Billion annually.
Over the past 18 years, our family business, has been developing Smart City solutions designed in part to improve energy-efficiency. Since working for Elbex, I’ve become increasingly aware of Green Energy standards and I often face the question of how technology can reduce existing energy-inefficiencies in the residential field.
I believe that by decreasing total energy consumption, while increasing energy-efficiency within their homes, Americans could lower their energy bills, reduce reliance on external oil and gas suppliers, and help protect the environment.
In 2017, as part of the U.S. energy-efficiency policy, over 75M smart meters, which measure and record hourly electricity usage, have been installed in the U.S. However, while these smart meters aim to open the door to new services, such as time-based pricing, budget billing and high-usage alerts, they report to end-users only well after the fact, and provide total energy consumption instead of a detailed breakdown.
In order to decrease energy consumption, the U.S. government could expand its policy and require every newly-built apartment to be equipped with smart switches and sockets. Thanks to latest-technology developments, these enable real-time metering and reporting separately from every appliance connected within the house, at minimal cost. Further analysis of this valuable information could provide end-users with real-time detailed information for benchmarking, more accurate high-usage alerts, and smart home management services, minimizing energy waste.
As an immediate complementary step for existing apartments’ end-users, the U.S. government might decrease the total energy consumption and encourage companies and individuals to pay extra attention to energy-efficient product manufacturing by adding a requirement to equip all newly-manufactured electrical appliances with indication sensors that warn end-users when their appliances are sharply increasing their consumption. An old refrigerator may be still working for twenty years, but it is very likely that by that time, it has sharply increased its energy consumption and became so inefficient that replacing it with a new one will return the investment within a short period.
Finally, The US government can motivate consumers with tax exemptions for purchasing designated Most Efficient products, distinguished by labeling programs, such as the U.S. “Energy Star.” They can also incentivize manufacturers to innovate energy-efficient products by subsidizing manufacturing costs.