The purpose of energy efficiency is to reduce the amount of energy required to maintain or improve functionality and comfort while lowering customer cost. Increasing energy efficiency might involve using a new technology, such as a "smart," programmable thermostat, or reimagining a process to lessen overall demand, such as implementing an energy management system for industrial and commercial energy users. Energy efficient products and practices can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, while lowering costs to consumers.
The Nicholas Institute is working to help policy makers and investors make consumer-conscious decisions that promote energy efficiency at the local, state, and national levels. For instance, experts from the Climate and Energy Program engaged more than 100 stakeholders in a year-long process to develop the North Carolina Energy Efficiency Roadmap. The plan provides a comprehensive list of recommendations to make energy efficiency a statewide standard for North Carolina. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality was a partner in this project and has included a number of the Roadmap recommendations in the state’s 2019 draft Clean Energy Plan.