Max Tech and Beyond
It is well established that energy efficiency is most often the lowest cost approach to reducing national energy use and minimizing carbon emissions. National investments in energy efficiency to date have been highly cost-effective. The cumulative impacts (out to 2050) of residential energy efficiency standards are expected to have a benefit-to-cost ratio of 2.71:1. How much energy could the United States save if the most efficient design options currently feasible were adopted universally? What design features could produce those savings? How would the savings from various technologies compare? With an eye toward identifying promising candidates and strategies for potential energy efficiency standards, the Max Tech and Beyond project aims to answer these questions.This project examined energy end-uses in the residential, commercial, and in some cases the industrial sectors. The scope is limited to appliances and equipment, and does not include building materials, building envelopes, and system designs. This scope is consistent with the scope of DOE's appliance standards program, although many products considered here are not currently subject to energy efficiency standards.The analysis attempts to consolidate, in one document, the energy savings potential and design characteristics of best-on-market products, best-engineered products (i.e., hypothetical products produced using best-on-market components and technologies), and emerging technologies in research & development. As defined here, emerging technologies are fundamentally new and are as yet unproven in the market, although laboratory studies and/or emerging niche applications offer persuasive evidence of major energy-savings potential. The term "max tech" is used to describe both best-engineered and emerging technologies (whichever appears to offer larger savings). Few best-on-market products currently qualify as max tech, since few apply all available best practices and components. Nevertheless, it is important to analyze best-on-market products, since data on truly max tech technologies are limited.The three primary analyses presented in this report are: an analysis of the cross-cutting strategies most promising for reducing appliance and equipment energy use in the U.S., a macro-analysis of the U.S. energy-saving potential inherent in promising ultra-efficient appliance technologies, and a product-level analysis of the energy-saving potential.