Energy Efficiency

Many proposed strategies to limit the magnitude of future climate change focus on increasing energy efficiency, especially in the near term. A substantial body of research backs up the technical potential for large energy efficiency improvements. For example, the recent report Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States (NRC, 2009c) included a comprehensive review of information on the performance, costs, and GHG emissions reducing potential of different energy efficient technologies and processes for residential and commercial buildings, industry, and transportation.

While a number of proven technologies are available, a host of economic, behavioral, and institutional factors have hampered the United States' ability to realize these efficiency improvements and associated emissions reductions. Many of these factors have been characterized in the scientific literature (see Chapter 14), and while research has shed some light on ways to overcome these barriers, more work is needed. For example, input from social science research can inform the design of policies, programs, and incentives that are more consistent with knowledge about human behavior and consumer choices.

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