U.S. Energy Conservation Could Benefit from Experiences of Other Countries

Gao ID: ID-78-4 January 10, 1978

The International Energy Agency (IEA) was formed by the United States and other industrial nations in response to uncertainties over availability of oil and oil prices. The President's energy program emphasizes the reduction of demand through conservation, but the United States has lagged behind other members of IEA in adopting conservation measures. The conservation policies and practices of four European countries--United Kingdom, West Germany, Sweden, and Denmark--were examined to develop information on effective measures applicable to U.S. efforts.

Although quantitative information on energy conservation activities of the countries studied was not available because some measures were not instituted primarily for conservation and some were not in effect long enough, some successful measures were identified. In the United Kingdom, increased insulation standards for new housing units are expected to save 15 percent more energy than former standards, and savings in industry are expected through consulting and advisory programs and better housekeeping practices. In West Germany, savings of 8 to 12 million tons of coal equivalent per year are anticipated by 1985 from tax credits to industry for district heating or use of garbage for powerplants. In Sweden, new building standards are expected to increase energy savings by 40 percent annually, and expansion of a refuse incineration plant is expected to result in annual savings of about 160,000 barrels of oil. In Denmark, increased standards for new buildings are expected to achieve savings of 39 percent to 55 percent, and savings are expected to result from a retrofit program for government buildings, from insulation and boiler projects, and from district heating. Levies of progressive taxes in three of the countries on engine size or vehicle weight result in purchases of more efficient automobiles.


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