Use Energy Efficiency Towards 100 Percent Clean Energy

Leticia Colon de Mejias

Climate change is real. Yet our leaders seem paralyzed. We need to work to lower our dependence on fossil fuel. Here are ways to discuss energy policy in a non-confrontational, nonpartisan way.

 

Unlike energy or climate modeling, energy efficiency (EE) has been proven to have amazing positive impacts on everything from our economy to our environment. Efficiency is one of the things that we can all agree upon and support because:

 

  • It increases local jobs and generates local taxes and federal taxes

  • It lowers energy costs and energy waste

  • Lowering our energy waste also lowers the impact of burning fossil fuel and protects our health and the environment

  • Efficiency lowers pollution caused by burning fossil fuel and reduces demand on our energy grid

  • It avoids building new energy plants that cost us money, providing even deeper savings for our residents and state

 

In fact if we implement enough efficiency, in time we can actually reach our 100 percent clean energy goals. Let’s rely on EE’s proven ability to reduce energy waste and the negative effects of burning extra fossil fuels.

 

I’m all for clean cars and community solar, but they are expensive, and some people don’t own cars. Buying an electric vehicle won’t reduce carbon pollution unless you power it with clean energy.

 

Pollution is also created by heating and cooling our homes and buildings. We can immediately reduce this energy generated pollution through proven simple low cost technologies such as cellulose insulation, air sealing leaky homes, installing efficiency lighting and timers, adding efficiency-based heating and cooling systems, installing better windows and using power strips.

 

In 13 New England homes where LED lights, insulation and windows were installed and then tracked for three years by their energy bills, the energy waste was reduced by 30 percent annual savings on heat and electric use in each home. That’s also 30 percent less pollution from each home. Plus, the homes are more comfortable, safer and less expensive to run.

It is important to look at the facts on Efficiency Efficiency and building science. Learn more about the importance of Energy Efficiency at www.efficiencyforall.org

 

Thank you to the Sierra Club for taking on the issue of clean energy for all. Energy Efficiency belongs at the top of the Ready for 100 campaign. We can only can reach 100 percent before it is too late by reducing our energy demand through EE and Conservation combined with clean, renewable energy resources.

 

"Do More with Less" and "Keep it Clean" must be our calls to action. We must stand for and require efficiency in all things that we pay for!

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Photo: LED Light bulb Photo credit: Marco Verch

Why is EE so important? A few quick data points: Physicians for Social Responsibility found that reducing energy consumption in the United States by just 15 percent could have enormous annual impacts on our public health. A 15 percent reduction in energy use in Hartford:

  • Could reduce health impacts by $73 per capita annually

  • Prevent 30,000 fewer asthma attacks annually

  • Avoid $20 billion health harms annually

  • Save six lives every day

  • Reduce by 30 percent health and safety issues of CT housing stock, including mold, asbestos, high CO (carbon monoxide)  levels and gas leaks that are uncovered daily by Connecticut Building Performance scientists during routine inspections.

EE Prevents the four greatest health threats. “The health benefits available from energy efficiency are impressive. Air pollution from power plants contributes to the four leading causes of death in the U.S.: cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, heart disease and stroke. We can use energy efficiency to save lives and help slow our warming atmosphere. Those benefits are going to be felt now and for decades into the future.” - Barbara Gottlieb, Director for Environment and Health at Physicians for Social Responsibility

Leticia Colon de Mejias is CEO of Energy Efficiencies Solutions, Inc. and a Sierra Club member.