May 14, 2014
Originally posted on the Opower blog
On Tuesday, the White House released the most authoritative scientific report ever written about the current and future consequences of climate change in the United States.
The findings of the report, known as the National Climate Assessment (NCA), are striking. Average temperatures in the United States have increased by 1.3 to 1.9°F since 1895, and most of that warming has occurred in the last 40 years. The last decade was the hottest ever recorded in America.
With temperatures on the rise, the report notes that extreme weather events are coming faster and stronger. The most recent round of prolonged heat waves in places like Texas and the Midwest were more intense than any on record, and the West’s ongoing drought appears to have created the driest conditions there in 800 years. As a result, the risk of serious wildfires is up. Meanwhile, downpours in the eastern half of the country are more than 30 percent heavier than they used to be, raising the risk of severe floods.
For policymakers and energy producers, the NCA underscores the pressing need for climate solutions, including more clean energy and stronger emissions standards. For the rest of us — as companies, communities, and individuals — the report is a reminder that the decisions we make every day have lasting impacts on our planet.
Increasing America’s energy efficiency, according to the NCA, stands out as a core solution to climate change: “The capacity for [climate] mitigation from individual and household behavioral changes, such as increasing energy end-use efficiency with available technology, is known to be large.”
Opower ran the numbers last year to find out exactly how large. One of our key findings: 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide could be abated every year by helping families and businesses make smart behavioral changes that save energy.
When people save energy and cut carbon, they also save money. Deploying behavioral energy efficiency programs nationwide could knock $2.2 billion off our utility bills and put it right back into consumers’ pockets.
The last two maps look a lot better than the first two. And they highlight that like clean energy and emissions standards, behavioral energy efficiency is a proven, cost-effective strategy to mitigate climate change. Now it’s up to all of us to realize its full potential.
Opower combines a cloud-based platform, big data, and behavioral science to help utilities around the world reduce energy consumption and improve their relationship with their customers. This helps consumers lower their energy use and costs, and significantly reduces carbon emissions. Opower is transforming the way the world approaches household energy conservation.
Richard Caperton, the Director of National Policy and Partnerships at Opower, will speak at this year’s AGU Science Policy Conference in June. Caperton leads the company’s engagement with all branches of the federal government, including Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.