Jen Rosser
Jen Rosser
Program Director

With Good Information, The Savings All Add Up

There are a lot of good sources of information out there to help us understand how to save energy at home, but our friends at Energy Upgrade California go above and beyond as a great source of information. For example, did you know that you could save between $40 and $135 dollars over the lifetime of a light bulb if you switch out an old incandescent bulb to a new LED bulb? The range is dependent on the amount of time the bulb is on; is it enough to motivate you to make the change?

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Imagine if everyone were to make a small change, those differences would add up to a very large impact in energy use reduced and dollars saved. We’ve heard the adage before, that small changes add up to make a big difference, but now we can offer concrete examples. For instance, Federal energy-efficiency requirements for refrigerators, lights and other appliances have saved Americans an estimated $50 billion from 1987 through 2000, at a cost of $15 billion. (McKinsey & Company report on energy efficiency in the United States, page 18) That’s a savings of $35 billion for Americans over only a 13-year period!

In a March 2009,a National Geographic article titled, It Starts at Home, by Peter Miller, stated that in a 2007 survey of Americans, 60 percent said they didn't have enough savings to pay for energy-related renovations. If given an extra $10,000 to work with, only 24 percent said they would invest in efficiency. I believe the problem is most Americans still believe energy efficiency will cost them more than it will save. This is just not true, particularly in the big picture.

Thousands of homeowners and business owners across the county have made energy efficiency improvements in their buildings through local Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs. PACE programs provide financing for property owners to install energy and water efficiency retrofits and renewable energy systems, and the cost is amortized over many years on the property tax bill. The dollars saved in reduced energy bills is intended to offset the project cost so that there is no monthly increase in the cost to the building owner. Many people are not aware of this opportunity. According to Wikipedia, the first PACE program was implemented by Berkeley, California, led by Cisco DeVries, the chief of staff to Berkeley's mayor. California passed the first legislation for PACE financing and started the BerkeleyFIRST climate program in 2008. Since then, PACE-enabling legislation has been passed in 30 states and the District of Columbia, allowing localities to establish PACE financing programs.

Many of us really can afford to install energy efficiency retrofits, and we must. The study by McKinsey & Company referenced earlier estimated that the United States could avoid 1.3 billion tons of CO2 emissions a year, using only existing technologies that would pay for themselves in savings. Instead of growing by more than a billion tons by 2020, annual emissions in the U.S. would drop by 200 million tons a year. If we are willing make the changes we can afford to implement, the solutions are right in front of us.

When considering whether you should upgrade your business or home, just remember the cumulative effect and check out Energy Upgrade California for incredibly useful tips and assistance.