WASHINGTON - June 26 - Americans can cut their natural gas consumption by more than 12 percent over the next decade simply by improving energy efficiency with available technology, according to a new report by a national engineering consulting firm.
The report's conclusions indicate that reducing consumption would avert the need to drill in undeveloped, environmentally sensitive public lands in the American West or in protected areas off our coasts, which would threaten the tourism and commercial fishing industries. (For a copy of the report, click here.)
"The fact is we waste way too much natural gas," said Jim Presswood, an energy expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the group that commissioned the report. "We can do much better by implementing the energy efficiency technologies we have today, which would dramatically lower consumer costs and save our natural heritage from destructive drilling."
(For more information about the environmental harm caused by coastal drilling, click here. For more information on how natural gas drilling is damaging the Rocky Mountain region, click here.)
The report, written by the Georgia-based GDS Associates, concluded that if aggressive policies and programs utilizing off-the-shelf energy efficiency technology were implemented today, consumers would save nearly 2.8 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas annually over the next 10 years. That amounts to 12.7 percent of the 22 TCF Americans consumed in 2005. GDS estimated that savings due to greater efficiency could amount to more than 234 TCF over a 50-year period based on today's rate of consumption - nearly three times the Interior Department's mean estimate of 86 TCF of natural gas located in currently protected areas off our nation's coasts.
Given that efficiency technology is likely to improve, and old, less-efficient equipment likely would be replaced over time, GDS noted in the report that its estimates are "very conservative," and that potential savings likely would be much higher.
GDS reviewed a number of energy efficiency programs in its analysis, including high efficiency homes, water heating systems; heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems and heat pumps; natural gas furnaces; solar water heating systems; residential lighting; clothes washers, refrigerators and dishwashers; and retrofits of commercial and residential buildings.