Using energy as efficiently and effectively as possible will be essential if we are to meet future energy needs and see a global transition to sustainable energy sources. Without major changes in the way we use energy to meet our needs (energy conservation), and use the most efficient equipment and measures (energy efficiency), there is little hope of reducing the impact of energy production and use to reasonable levels. This is even more important for Canada, which has one of the highest energy consumptions per capita in the world.
Fortunately energy efficiency and conservation are also the lowest cost options for meeting energy needs and provide many other environmental, economic and social benefits, including cost savings, lower environmental load by avoiding GHG and local air, water and land emissions associated with energy production and consumption, local economic development opportunities and associated new jobs, enhanced reliability of energy system and reduce price volatility, and improved energy supply security.
While it is in consumer and the public interest to use energy more efficiently, there are several reasons why energy users and providers of energy, such as utilities, do not always make rational investments in efficient technologies and practices. Consumers often lack the information necessary to make good choices; also the equipment, services and financing they need are often not available. It is left to governments, therefore, to put policies and programs in place that encourage investments in energy efficiency and conservation and transform markets towards energy efficient products and practices.
Canada has a reasonable track record on energy efficiency but has the potential to make significant gains over the next decade. Energy efficiency and conservation policies should become the cornerstone of future energy policy because of their multiple benefits. Canada needs a national energy efficiency strategy and action plan developed by provincial and federal governments which expands the support for energy efficiency - learning from best practices used elsewhere and building a strong energy efficiency industry that can deliver cost saving products and services to all consumers and businesses. There are also important roles for municipalities, NGOs, energy utilities, First Nations, and international agencies and partnership.