ENERGY EFFICIENT BUILDINGS

Energy efficiency benefits consumers and the environment

The U.S, Department of Energy estimates that of the $2,000 the average American spends paying for energy annually, $200 to $400 could be going to waste from drafts, air leaks around openings, and outdated heating and cooling systems. By reducing these losses through energy efficiency upgrades, not only do consumers save money, they also reduce the overall amount of energy that needs to be produced thus reducing emissions.

 

Energy efficiency funds

In Connecticut, electric utility customers pay an charge for energy efficiency programs, and can get a low-cost home energy audit and other retrofits to reduce their energy consumption.  According to EnergizeCT, audits evaluate home efficiency and usually install basic weatherization and energy-saving measures such as sealing air leaks and installing energy-efficient lighting, faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads. The average home in Connecticut receives about $1,000 in services and realizes $200-$250 in savings on their annual energy bills. Additionally, written recommendations  are provided for deeper energy-saving measures such as Wi-Fi thermostats, insulation, high-efficiency heating and cooling, water heating, windows and appliances.

In 2017, the energy efficiency program faced a crisis when the state legislature used $145 of the energy efficiency funds to fill a hole in the state budget.  A court case is currently underway with energy efficiency plaintiffs suing the state to recover the funds for this important program.

High efficiency heating and cooling

Fossil fuels - natural gas, propane and oil - are currently the primary energy source for Connecticut residential and commercial heating, cooling, and hot water.  Renewable thermal technologies such as heat pumps are available as replacements for these fossil fuel based thermal energy systems.  According to the Acadia Center’s EnergyVision 2030 report, heat pumps reduce emissions about 60% compared to gas boilers. Compared to oil boilers, heat pumps reduce emissions over 70%. 

A recent study by the Cadmus Group found ductless air-source heat pumps are routinely cost-effective in single-family homes in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which are comparable in both climate and energy prices to Connecticut. The Cadmus Group found that air-source heat pumps were always more cost-effective than both propane and electric-resistance heating and ones optimized for cold climate were most cost-effective than oil heating except during periods of extreme cold.

Additional reading and more information:

Use Energy Efficiency Toward 100% Clean Energy by Letitia Colon de Mejias, Sierra Club Connecticut Newsletter, October 2018

For more information or to get involved in this effort, please contact Samantha Dynowski at samantha.dynowski@sierraclub.org.