Updated March 26 at 12:27am

Study: U.S. devices consume more energy yearly than entire economies of other large countries


WASHINGTON – Devices and equipment often found in U.S. homes and businesses consume more energy yearly than the amount used by many large countries for their entire economies, according to a recent analysis released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Titled “Miscellaneous Energy Loads in Buildings,” the report examines energy usage by households devices such as TVs, computers and ceiling fans, as well as commercial equipment such as elevators, icemakers and MRI machines.

These products – there are more than 2 billion in use in the United States – use 7.8 quadrillion BTUs each year, exceeding the primary energy use of Australia, Mexico, New Zealand and 200 other countries, said the report. That amount is also greater than the amount of oil that the United States imports yearly from the Persian Gulf and Venezuela.

The report refers to these devices and equipment as “miscellaneous energy loads” because they do not fall under traditional energy-use categories such as refrigeration, HVAC or lighting, according to the council.

This diverse range of products is subject to varying levels of energy efficiency standards. For example, ceiling fans and ice makers are held to federal energy efficiency standards, while computer monitors and TVs can follow voluntary efficiency specifications like Energy Star. Still other miscellaneous energy load products lack sufficient energy standards altogether.

In addition to setting standards, the council’s report suggests efficiency-improving measures such as developing behavioral initiatives to modify consumption habits, including miscellaneous energy loads in the energy efficiency portfolios of program administrators and encouraging manufacturers to upgrade products so that the best-performing ones become the most common.

“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,” Sameer Kwatra, lead author of the report, said in prepared remarks.

To access the report, please visit: http://aceee.org/research-report/a133.


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