Category: News

Going green: Switching from oil or propane to electric heat can often save money

To achieve the common and ambitious worldwide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% or more by 2050, analyses find that consumers and businesses will need to use a combination of energy efficiency and carbon-free electricity (e.g., electricity from renewable resources, nuclear) or low-carbon electricity (efficient fossil fuel use with carbon capture and storage) for transportation, space heating, and water heating (see here and here). But does electrification save money for homeowners considering making the switch? Our new study, Energy Savings, Consumer Economics, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions from Replacing Oil and Propane Furnaces, Boilers, and Water Heaters with Air-Source Heat Pumps looks at that particular question. The report finds that replacing oil and propane furnaces, boilers, and water heaters with high-efficiency electric heat pumps can often reduce total energy use and energy bills and will also reduce emissions in many cases.

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The White House Keeps Proposing To Chop Energy Efficiency Programs. Congress Keeps Saying ‘No.’

What a difference a year makes. Last summer, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of federal energy efficiency programs. The budget blueprint released by the White House in March 2017 recommended deep cuts to most efficiency programs and even the complete elimination of others (e.g. ENERGY STAR). It wasn’t clear how Congress would respond, and decades of work building a national energy efficiency program infrastructure was at risk. A year later, the funding picture is far more promising. In some cases, efficiency programs are seeing increased funding, including in the spending bill that passed the Senate this week by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 86-5. How did we get here?

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Staying Cool with the NSPM: States Wade into Deeper Waters

It’s been over a year since NESP published the groundbreaking National Standard Practice Manual (NSPM). After months of ongoing state outreach to build an understanding of the NSPM, stakeholder interest is intensifying. Some jurisdictions are “dipping their toes in,” while others are venturing from shallow to deeper waters. New developments in NSPM awareness and application show states taking the NSPM from theory to practice around the country.

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Alliance Report Finds that Majority of Large U.S. Manufacturers Make Commitments to Save Energy and Reduce Emissions

The Alliance released a new report that examines the public energy efficiency goals of 160 of the nation’s largest companies with a combined 2,100 manufacturing facilities in the United States. The report—Committed to Savings: Major U.S. Manufacturers Set Public Goals for Energy Efficiency—found that forty-three percent of the largest manufacturers in the United States have established robust public targets to reduce their energy use while seventy-nine percent have set ambitious public goals to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The analysis finds that the companies that are pursuing these public energy efficiency targets are located nationwide, but the heaviest concentrations are in Texas and California, followed by Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Virginia—states with large industrial sectors in the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast.

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The energy sector is driving job growth, but not where you think.

Wind, gas, and storage jobs are all increasing in the energy sector, but the fastest employment growth isn’t coming from the supply side, according to the 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Report. It’s energy efficiency that’s creating the most opportunities, the new analysis concludes in an examination of four energy-focused sectors of the U.S. economy.

The traditional energy and energy efficiency sectors, which employ about 6.5 million Americans, saw a 2% increase in jobs in 2017, or about 133,000 new positions, according to the report. A closer look at the numbers reveals they largely mirror utility sector trends, with growth focused on the advanced energy sector.

One exception is the solar sector. It lost 24,000 jobs — about 6% of the workforce — as the industry installed about 30% less in 2017 than it had the year before.

The “traditional energy sector” is made up of generation and fuels production, along with transmission, distribution, and storage; the report also looks at the energy efficiency and motor vehicle sectors.

Growth in the traditional energy and efficiency sectors made up 7% of all jobs created in the United States last year. But while the overall national employment numbers are strong, former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, founder of the grid-edge think tank Energy Futures Initiative (EFI), believes states will remain the “focal points for solutions to many of the challenges in the energy transformation.”

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Cities are laying the foundation for a robust and equitable energy efficiency workforce

As US cities push forward to meet their clean energy goals, they will need a strong, capable energy efficiency workforce to make critical energy-saving upgrades and investments. Our new report, Through the Local Government Lens: Developing the Energy Efficiency Workforceshows how cities can take an active role in growing the workforce and extend its benefits to underserved communities.

The Energy Efficiency Workforce

Local governments across the United States are increasingly prioritizing energy efficiency, and there are a lot of efficiency jobs out there – 2.25 million. These jobs span diverse industries, from construction to professional and business services. And they are projected to keep multiplying, with a 9% increase predicted for 2018.

Source: ACEEE Jobs; underlying data from US Energy and Employment Report

With the right policies and practices, local governments can develop and grow this robust workforce. From our research and more than 25 interviews, we identified a few key strategies cities can take.

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Energy efficiency is good for climate, consumers and industry – so why undermine it?

(Euractiv)

The EU Council of Ministers wants to slow down annual obligations on energy savings by quietly introducing a whole new range of “flexibilities” after 2020, some of which are well-hidden in an Annex of the proposed Energy Efficiency Directive, writes Benedek Jávor.

Benedek Jávor is a Hungarian Member of the European Parliament for the Greens/EFA group. He is shadow rapporteur on the recast Energy Efficiency Directive. 

Energy efficiency isn’t just good for the climate and a necessary tool to help the European Union meet the Paris Agreement. It’s also good for citizen’s health and helps them save money. Industry will also benefit from a new energy efficiency toolkit through increased competitiveness and greater investment, leading to local job creation, not least at the level of Small and Medium Enterprises.

Negotiations on the Energy Efficiency Directive are now entering a decisive stage, with talks between the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission set to run until the end of the month in order to obtain a final deal under the Bulgarian presidency before mid-June. The Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament wants to make sure everyone benefits from an ambitious approach to energy efficiency: climate, consumers and industry.

Negotiations have proved rather difficult, as the co-legislators come from very different starting points. One element is the headline target, which the European Parliament has set as binding and at least 35% by 2030. Another element is the yearly energy savings to be achieved among final consumers.

The Council wants to slow down the delivery of annual energy savings by introducing a whole new range of “flexibilities” after 2020. Some of these loopholes are well-hidden in an Annex of the Directive, far from the politicised discussion about the overall headline target.

An example of these is the Council’s proposal to enlarge the eligibility of measures to those savings stemming from the implementation of pre-2010 building codes for new buildings. This obscure provision would mean that Member States would be able to account for the construction of new buildings as

energy savings, without considering the existing obligation on this matter. This breaches the basic principle of “additionality”, which requires that efficiency measures must go beyond existing EU legislation to be counted. They should also not be retroactive, i.e. change the ongoing legislative framework.

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Exposing Indoor Air Quality: Monitoring And Energy Efficiency Are Helping

(Forbes)

Harmful pollutants are spewing everywhere, including indoors. And while the focus is on those external emissions created by power plants, industrial facilities and automobiles, there is solid reason to turn inward: The level of volatile organic compounds — gases from solids and liquids — is 10 times greater indoors than it is outdoors.

That’s according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which adds that dirty air, generally, inside of commercial and residential buildings is two-to-five times greater than what is outside. And that is leading to health problems. In extreme cases, think of burning coal or wood for indoor cooking and heating in developing countries. The good news is that the technologies exist to monitor air quality and to improve energy efficiencies.

“As we learn to live a healthier lifestyle by eating better, we can also live a healthier lifestyle by breathing better,” Vasileios Nasis, chief executive of the Netronix Groupin Philadelphia told this writer. In doing so, he adds that “You can also contribute to energy savings.”

As for Netronix, its relatively inexpensive instruments are installed within a business or home that gather data associated with air quality, all in real time. That information is then stored in the company’s cloud software, which it monitors for a monthly fee. At the appropriate times, managers or consumers are notified to shift their usage patterns. That not only cuts down on electricity bills and pollutant levels but it can also improve the performance of existing equipment.

Green schools, for instance, say that they use a third less energy than conventionally-constructed schools, which cuts down on their utility costs and improves the air that students breathe. Ditto for hospitals, which must have sterile environments. By installing devices that can measure air quality, managers are notified of problems before they happen.

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ON THE MARKET: Elegance and energy-efficiency

(InsideNOVA)

Something exceptional awaits our inspection this week, as we travel to Waycroft-Woodlawn to view a 2012 property that combines classic Craftsman bungalow lines with a decidedly forward-thinking persona.

Awarded an impressive gold level in the Arlington Green Home Program for its energy-consciousness (plus walkability and accessibility to shopping and parks), the home also features a county-approved accessory dwelling on the lower level, which can work equally well as an income-producing space or as a home for in-laws or an au pair.

And as yet another bonus, there is a finished loft above the detached garage, perfect for a multitude of uses.

All this, and this custom-designed home features quality fit and finishes and welcoming and classical lines that are sure to embrace all who come to enter.

The property currently is on the market, listed at $1,499,900 by Tori McKinney of ROCK STAR Realty Group of Keller Williams Metro Center.

An expansive covered front porch provides lovely curb appeal and sets the tone for everything we will encounter and enjoy on our tour.

Stepping inside, we have unfettered views through the depth of the home, with the creative layout featuring a formal living room (with fireplace) and dining room in the middle of this level, plus an exceptional, chef’s-caliber kitchen toward the rear, with bay-window vistas and step-down access to the rear of the home and the garage behind.

A music room is at the front of the home, connected to the living room for marvelous entertaining opportunities, and a home office is at the rear. An extra bonus is the screened porch, a comfortable and inviting space that offers a ceiling fan and slate flooring.

The master bedroom retreat occupies a strategic location at the rear of the upper level, with bonuses that include a sitting nook, two walk-in closets, a dry sauna and a sumptuous master bath.

Two additional bedrooms are found on this level, each with copious closet space, and laundry facilities can be found here, as well.

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