An array of new state, local and federal energy efficiency efforts launched this month are targeting billions of dollars of energy savings across the country through strengthened building codes and appliance standards, home energy management programs and public awareness campaigns.
President Barack Obama kicked off the efficiency blitz two weeks ago when he announced a series of executive orders aimed at improving energy efficiency at U.S. homes, businesses and federal buildings. In addition, Obama disclosed a series of public and private sector commitments aimed at supporting 850 MW of new solar installations at multifamily, low-income homes and other sites – enough to cover the electric use of nearly 130,000 homes.
Coordinated with the president’s May 9 announcement, more than 300 public-sector agencies and private businesses – including many in multifamily housing, home improvement and construction – also announced commitments. Among the key actions, the Federal Housing Administration will boost a program to invest in energy efficiency in low-income housing properties and the Department of Energy will expand its Solar Instructor Training Network.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) praised Obama’s efforts as “major steps forward for energy efficiency,” and noted the actions would save more than $26 billion by slashing industrial, commercial and residential energy waste.
State and local efficiency efforts
In the wake of Obama’s efficiency announcements, California on May 20 launched a new statewide education campaign – Energy Upgrade California –to help the state “stay Golden” by engaging Californians to manage their energy usage more wisely amid the state’s ongoing drought – which now is in its third year.
“Across the state, we are asking all Californians to learn more about how they manage their energy and water usage, which are important resources upon which our lives depend,” said Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, in a statement. “Reduced water supply and warm weather challenge the aging infrastructure that undergirds our economy and quality of life, while advances in real-time energy data access and smart grid, solar, battery, and electric vehicle technologies bring new opportunities,” he added.
The campaign doesn’t actually offer any new incentives for Californians to install new efficiency equipment. It does, however, aim to “make it easier for households and small business owners to learn about the state’s energy and climate-related policies, find ways to manage their energy use, explore renewable energy and time-of-use rate options, find energy efficient products and services, as well as how to respond to statewide calls to reduce power usage.”
Meanwhile, in Vermont, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz last week joined officials of utility Green Mountain Power for the launch of a new 100-home local initiative it is calling “eHome.”
As part of the pilot program, Green Mountain Power – which recently was recognized as Vote Solar’s 2014 Solar Champion for its support of net metering – will work with customers to modernize existing homes to become more energy efficient, reduce fossil fuel use and save homeowners money.
Similar to federal and California efforts, Green Mountain Power’s initiative isn’t about throwing money at the problem of energy waste and hoping for results – it’s about providing detailed examples of how changes in behavior and targeted home energy efficiency upgrades can translate into almost immediate savings – both of energy and finances.
Home at night photo CC-licensed by Niels van Dijk on Flickr.