New technologies that increase energy efficiency can be adopted at-scale, allowing everyone to experience the benefits.
Renewable energy is the future, and the future has been here for quite some time now.
When former President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law in 2008, it provided more than $90 billion in clean energy investments and tax incentives to promote job creation and the deployment of low-carbon technologies. This caused a boom in innovation and investments for renewable generation technologies and projects. As the market diversified, cost reductions and incentive programs made solar installations particularly lucrative for utilities, developers, and consumers. Many of the technologies that Americans use to power their homes found their roots in this time period.
Clean Energy Demand Is Rampant.
Renewable energy remains increasingly popular. It's accelerating into the lives of everyday Americans, as the residential solar market experienced its fifth consecutive record year in 2021, growing 30% over 2020. The motivation behind this extended growth is clear - it's about the green, in more ways than one. A survey shows that 58% of people who have installed solar panels to their home list that "solar panels are clean and don't contribute to climate change" as a motivation for doing so. Even more - 59% list saving money on their electricity bills as a motivation.
The intersection of environment and economics is powerful, and not just for homeowners. New technologies that increase energy efficiency can be adopted at-scale, allowing everyone to experience the benefits, from everyday homeowners, to institutional landlords and real estate developers, to Americans that rent single family homes.
Efficiency Is Key.
One of the largest areas where clean energy technologies can make a quick impact to lower costs and emissions is home energy efficiency. Home energy usage makes up the largest portion of the average American's carbon footprint. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the average household in 2019 used energy that released an estimated 17,302 lbs. of carbon dioxide. This means that, on an annual basis, the average home is responsible for 70% more emissions than the average passenger vehicle.
So, what innovative tools are being used in energy efficiency, and where can they take us?
Smart technologies, like smart thermostats and connected apps, are leading the way. More and more homeowners, landlords, and renters are opting to replace their outdated appliances and light fixtures with smart, energy-efficient updates. As price drops in technology and legislative tailwinds like the recently-signed Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act continue to converge, homes will become more efficient. In 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasted that the stock of connected appliances, devices, and sensors would overtake the number of people on the planet.
Visibility And Connectivity Through Tech.
While increases in both the capabilities and the availability of energy-efficient appliances and technologies are exciting, they're not enough on their own. To maximize the impact of these tools, you need to understand where your home's energy is being used, and why. Energy monitoring tools allow homeowners, institutional landlords, and residents the ability to view, understand, and optimize their energy usage.
As the old adage states: you can't manage what you can't measure.
This rings true in the case of energy efficiency. An energy-efficient appliance purchase and installation will make its largest impacts - environmentally and economically - when targeted with real-time data that's validated and actionable. Technologies that can deliver this valuable insight directly to the phones of residents and the computers of landlords will prove valuable going forward.
Real-time energy monitoring and analysis platforms are untapping opportunities for immediate impacts, and homeowners and property managers should adapt and use these technologies with the same urgency. The time to act is now. With favorable policies, increased awareness and demand for ESG in real estate portfolios, and dropping technology and electricity prices, energy-efficient homes are a sound investment. The companies that offer technology with years of aggregated data in this space are ready for their time to shine.
The focus on energy efficiency and the technology that will help us get there, faster and easier, carries a unique win-win-win opportunity: renters and homeowners can save money on their electricity bills and reduce their carbon footprints, institutional landlords can make ESG gains in their residential portfolios, and the planet and air that we all share will benefit from reduced emissions.
The future is green, in more ways than one.