Miscellaneous energy loads – devices like elevators and ice makers that don’t fit under traditional categories like HVAC, refrigeration, or lighting – consume roughly 7.8 quadrillion BTUs in the U.S. each year. This is more than the amount of oil the U.S. imports from the Persian Gulf and Venezuela each year, according to a new report.
In fact, this staggering statistic means that these miscellaneous loads alone consume more than the primary energy use of Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, or 200 other countries.
However, researchers say these devices could be upgraded with existing technology to use 40-50% less energy.
“If consumers upgraded to the most efficient products on the market today, we could save as much energy as Argentina uses in an entire year,” explains Sameer Kwatra, lead author of the study, Miscellaneous Energy Loads in Buildings.
Some of the devices, such as ceiling fans and ice makers, are covered by federal energy efficiency standards or by voluntary specifications like ENERGY STAR. However, many products don’t fall into either of these two categories. To combat this waste, the report recommends a mix of approaches, including encouraging manufacturers to upgrade inefficient products, including miscellaneous energy loads in the energy efficiency portfolios of utilities and other program administrators, and developing behavioral initiatives to raise awareness and modify individuals’ energy use habits.
“Just because a device doesn’t fit neatly into a product category is no excuse to waste a nation’s worth of energy,” says Jennifer Amann, buildings program director for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which released the findings. “Acting on the recommendations of this report will help energy consumers like businesses and residents put money back in their balance sheets and pocketbooks.”