How do we help Vermonters with ‘Affordable Energy’?
by Rebecca Foster, Director, Efficiency Vermont
We’ve known for years that energy efficiency can help you save money in your home or business. From switching out your lightbulbs to installing a new, efficient appliance, these investments reduce your electric bills from day one. But did you know that these same actions are also the most cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions?
The Vermont Department of Public Service is charged with representing the public interest on energy issues. In a new report, the Department found that Efficiency Vermont's electric efficiency services are the cheapest way to reduce carbon. The analysis found that electric efficiency measures on average save Vermonters nearly $400 per ton of carbon avoided. In other words – the carbon savings from energy efficiency aren’t just cost-effective, they actually deliver a financial return.
That doesn't mean electric efficiency is the only way to achieve carbon reductions. The report recommends “continuing a diverse approach to mitigating carbon emissions.” This approach will allow Vermonters to benefit from the cheapest carbon reduction options—like efficiency—while as a state we work to bring down the cost of more expensive technologies and make them available for all.
One take on a diverse approach to mitigating emissions could be tackling emissions outside of the electricity sector. As we found in the updated Vermont Energy Burden Report released last fall, the transportation and thermal sectors are the two biggest drivers of energy costs for Vermonters. And, according to the Energy Action Network, they are also the biggest sources of carbon emissions. Reducing emissions in the transportation and thermal sectors could also result in reducing costs for Vermonters: a clear win-win.
One reason electric efficiency is so cost effective is because of the investment Vermont has made developing a statewide energy efficiency utility. Efficiency Vermont and its many partners have been transforming the market in Vermont over the last 20 years, helping to drive the down the cost of energy efficient technologies from lighting, to electric motors and pumps, to appliances, to heat pumps.
That’s something we were able to celebrate at this year’s Better Buildings by Design conference, an annual gathering of our partners and trade allies in Vermont’s energy efficiency industry that happened on February 5-6. Appropriately, the theme of this year’s conference was “Affordable Energy.” Over the two days, innovative solutions to make energy more affordable for Vermonters were the center of discussion.
Efficiency Vermont began offering services in 2000 and every year since then we’ve looked for new ways to save money for Vermonters through efficiency. While our primary focus hasn’t been reducing greenhouse gas emissions, our work with Vermonters over the last twenty years will reduce over 11 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years – equivalent to removing all of Vermont’s cars from the roads for over four years. As we move into 2020, we’re excited to continue saving money for Vermonters and reducing emissions.