Energy efficiency helped lower U.S. CO₂ emissions to lowest point since 1994

According to a recent study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), America’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions declined 3.8 percent in 2012, to their lowest level since 1994. The EIA attributes this reduction, among other important factors, to increased energy efficiency of homes and vehicles and the greater use of renewables, such as wind power technology – all of which are enabled by chemistry.

According to the report, half of the overall decline in energy consumption occurred in the residential sector, where electricity-related emissions have been the main source of emissions since 1965. Some of the energy-saving technologies for homes that rely on chemistry include insulation, building wrap, low-E glass and window film, to name a few.

The second-largest decrease in energy consumption (22 percent of the total energy decline) was in the transportation sector. Although the number of miles traveled was flat across both years, there were more energy-efficient vehicles in 2012 than in 2011. Chemistry contributes to vehicle efficiency in various ways, including lubricants and fuel additives, lightweight components, and green tires, among other things.

The EIA report also indicated that wind power had increased by 19.9 billion kWh in 2012. Chemistry has long contributed solutions for renewable energy, from wind turbines, to solar shingles on homes, to the silicon ink that boosts the efficacy of solar cell technology.

Energy efficiency is the easiest, most cost-effective way cut back on energy costs and boost our national energy security. As this EIA report shows, it is also a great way to lower CO₂ emissions.

The EIA helps demonstrate our country’s need for an “all-of-the-above” approach that leverages all our domestic energy sources, including coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear power, alternatives and renewables — while allowing chemistry to be the catalyst for greater energy security.

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