Energy efficiency may seem like something that we're serious about and can't really improve on. After all, we've been doing this since the 70's oil crisis in terms of insulating our houses and buying cars with better mileage ratings, right? Aren't we doing pretty well with this? Well actually, no. Scientific American reports that the US is among the least energy efficient of the world's largest economies, placing 13th out of 16, trailed only by Russia, Brazil, and Mexico. The US is one of only two countries in the survey with no national energy savings plan. We can be better than that!
Part of the problem could be that energy efficiency doesn't seem trendy, high-tech, or maybe even something that can make a dent in the global warming challenge that we face. It may not be as visible as the solar panels on the roof, or the Prius in the driveway, but the Environmental Protection Agency reports that electric power generation accounts for a third of US greenhouse gas emissions, and heating with fossil fuels accounts for another 10%. That's about 42% of CO2 emissions that we can tackle by improving energy efficiency in our homes and businesses. As we retire old coal-fired power plants, saving energy is much cheaper than building new gas-fired plants in terms of balancing production and demand.
Massachusetts is actually the top state for energy efficiency according to a report by ACEEE. The state has a variety of programs to encourage investments in energy efficiency, and the program we're involved in locally is Chelmsford Saves. This campaign encourages local participation in the state's Mass Save program, and last year the town's residents received about 5000 light bulbs, 500 programmable thermostats, and 150 rebates for air sealing and insulation. That's a good start, but with about 13,000 homes in town we can do better! If you've already had your no-cost Mass Save audit, why not let your friends and neighbors know about this easy way to save?