Chart: Surprise! Energy efficiency is the climatetech employment giant

Solar and wind may garner more headlines, but efficiency jobs are booming across the U.S.

(Photo by David Stewart-Smith/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images; graphics by Canary's Binh Nguyen)

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When it comes to climatetech employment, energy efficiency is the jobs-creation winner — and by a long shot. 

For those expecting solar and wind projects or EV manufacturing to emerge as the victor (as did your humble narrator), you’re in for a surprise: Energy efficiency employs four times as many people as renewable energy and is the energy sector with the highest rate of job growth, according to the DOE’s U.S. Energy and Employment Report. 

USEER defines energy-efficiency employment as employment [that] covers both the production and installation of energy-saving products and the provision of services that reduce end-use energy consumption.” 

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Energy-efficiency jobs are dispersed across the country, with more than 300,000 people employed in the sector in rural areas. These are high-quality trade jobs that can’t be outsourced, and they cut across political affiliations.

When discussing energy efficiency, we’d be remiss if we didn’t cite RMI founder and efficiency guru Amory Lovins, who argues that the potential for energy efficiency has been massively understated and the cost of achieving it vastly overstated. (Canary is an independent affiliate of RMI.)

In the same way that no one expected the cost of solar and wind to plummet, driving faster adoption that cuts their cost further,” Lovins writes, we have overlooked the ability of modern energy efficiency to do the same thing.” 

Renewables…get nearly all the headlines, because unused energy is invisible,” said Lovins.

Eric Wesoff is the editorial director at Canary Media.

Maria Virginia Olano is editorial and research associate at Canary Media.