Imagine a world where humans have overcome their fossil fuel addictions and avoided catastrophic climate change effects. Picture the wind turbines spinning, the solar panels soaking up the sun’s rays, the new and exotic technologies that harness the power of the ocean.

Now think about energy efficiency. Not so sexy, right?

But like an overlooked middle child, energy efficiency has more going for it than you might have guessed. According to a recent ClimateWorks report, getting to that beautiful low-carbon future will cost us a lot more if we forget about using energy resources efficiently.

In fact, developing policies to push for greater efficiency in buildings, transportation, and industry would save $2.8 trillion by 2030 compared with reaching the same carbon reductions through switching to alternative energy sources alone, the report concludes.

Which makes sense — you don’t have to pay for energy you don’t use.

And hey, energy efficiency can be cool, too. Imagine freezing the carbon dioxide right out of the smokestack of a coal power plant, making the combustion almost emission-free.

Designing the efficient cars, buildings, and power plants of the future is going to take a lot of smart, creative minds, and a lot of neat technology. It’s also going to take political will and strong policies, which is a little less exciting but definitely crucial.

Perhaps what energy efficiency needs now is a marketing campaign, showing off the amazing ways old technologies can become cleaner and greener. Let’s hear it for energy efficiency — may the odds be ever in your favor.

Photos via ClimateWorks, Oliver Wendel