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Efficiency or Renewables?

13 August 2009

Energy efficiency and renewable energy are obvious companions, but often people tend to gloss over efficiency and go right to renewables.  It makes sense – as Carl Pope, director of the Sierra Club once put it, “Efficiency is the steak, renewables are the sizzle.”  Solar panels and wind turbines are just more sexy and exciting than, say, insulation or faucet aerators.

But before you ignore the finer points of weatherstripping, keep in mind that efficiency and renewables are a pair that works best together! Most residential renewable organizations that I have worked with always tell people to increase their efficiency before they consider upgrading to a solar photovoltaic or solar hot water system.  The less energy you use, the smaller system you would need to install and the less money you would spend.

For example, Earth2Tech recently posted a “Top 5 Misconceptions About Home Energy Performance” where they compare cost/benefit from installing a solar photovoltaic system (solar panels that generate electricity) versus a major energy-efficieny retrofit.  They didn’t exactly lay out what kind of efficiency retrofits they were taking into their calculations, but the end result was that energy efficiency retrofits cost nearly $5K less than the solar system and achieved a 33% higher reduction of carbon dioxide emission – not to mention reducing heating and electricity costs!

:: Earth2Tech

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