The US will save trillions of dollars if Obama’s energy efficiency legacy stands

The Obama administration’s energy efficiency efforts are saving billions of dollars each year and could save trillions by 2040. The projected savings by then are far more than what consumers now spend on phones and the Internet, combined.

Even as President Barack Obama has made energy efficiency a top priority, it’s remarkable that federal agencies have achieved these savings over the last eight years by implementing bipartisan laws passed before he entered the Oval Office. Our new analysis reveals how much the United States has saved and still can in the future. If President-elect Donald Trump does not want to shut off a huge moneymaker for the US economy, he should continue these policies.

As shown in the graph below, a few recent energy efficiency policies are helping Americans save about 2 quadrillion Btu (quads) of energy this year, or about 2% of all US energy use. These energy savings are worth about $30 billion this year. But that is just a small advance.

The real benefits should arrive long after Obama, and even after Trump, leaves the Oval Office. In the years to come, as people buy new cars and equipment and we hope as states implement more programs, the savings from policies already put in place will blossom. By 2030, we project these actions will save 10-14 quads of energy a year (10-14% of all energy use), worth $250-290 billion a year. By 2040, the savings continue to increase to 13-17 quads and $370-410 billion a year. They could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as a billion tons a year. We estimate the present value of the energy savings through 2040 at $2.5-2.9 trillion. (This does not count the investment needed, but that will be much smaller).

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