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Energy Efficiency or Lower Electricity Costs?

9 November 2009

You wouldn’t think that coal companies would be interested in energy efficiency.  That would mean that they would be selling less electricity to customers, and therefore making less money, right?  This seems like sound logic, but here in Minnesota, utilities need to decrease their energy output by 1.5% per year, leading to an overall reduction of 24% by 2025.  Now utilities should be pretty interested  in energy efficient homes.

Glenn English, the head of an organization that unites almost 1,000 non-profit coal companies, believes that it is more important to give people energy efficiency than cheaper electricity.  Because our fossil fuel sources, like coal, are running out, energy prices will only keep increasing, as well as population and demand.  But with more energy efficient homes, electricity prices may continue to increase, but electricity bills will decrease. Superficially keeping energy prices low could mask the real amount and cost of energy available.  Also problematic would be to raise costs of electricity for consumers.

Making improvements to your home energy efficiency are beneficial for many reasons:  you will, of course, save money on your energy bills, but also become less dependent on the power company.  The changes you make, from as simple as lowering your thermostat by two degrees, to bigger changes like insulating your house, will last forever.  This will raise the property value of your home!  What’s better than doing something that will put money in your pocket not just once, but all the time?   I have to admit I agree with the coal guy.

:: Grist

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 9 November 2009 12:55 pm

    I just read an article about households and energy efficiency that kind of surprised me: Americans are willing to waste an average of $129 per month on energy costs before buying efficient products–something they called the “apathy gap.”

    Have you guys encountered this apathy gap in your work with Minnesotans? How can we overcome this phenomenon?

    • 16 November 2009 3:56 pm

      From Emily:

      “This is a great point, Leigh. One reason this article talks about people who are much more willing to beautify their home than spend money on energy efficient appliances is because of visibility: energy efficiency is just so hard to see. The only visible part of energy use is the number on the bill you have to pay at the end of the month, and if it’s always about the same, it just comes to be an expected cost. Most people don’t think the savings of energy star appliances or installing insulation will be worth it, or they do not want to take the time to actually think about it.

      That’s why we have the Minnesota Energy Challenge- to show how much money and carbon will be saved with each action. We definitely encounter people who are not willing to do something, even if it seems logical and it will save money. Habits are some of the most difficult things to change about a person. The best way to counter this is leading by example: you are a powerful and influential factor in the decisions of your friends, family, and neighbors. If you buy an energy star rated dishwasher and recommend it to someone else, the likelihood of them doing the same is greatly increased, more than just educating them about the savings and carbon emissions. Good luck in fighting the apathy gap!”

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