Vermont has a new comprehensive energy plan that is full of thoughtful - though non-binding and unfunded - ideas. The plan calls for meeting 90% of the state's energy needs through renewables by 2050.
Energy professionals know that it makes sense to dramatically reduce the energy requirements of homes and meet a large portion of remaining needs with renewables. We know how to do the work, what we don’t know is how to pay for it – solar panels and insulation are just too expensive. Really?


Let’s put cost into context. It might cost $40,000 to reduce the energy requirements of an average home by 75%. That’s around 20 year’s worth of home energy bills. You could also spend that much on a solar power system to meet most of your home’s electric needs; an investment that might save you about half as much in annual energy costs as the same investment in efficiency. The value of energy is weighted towards efficiency over generation. In this respect, investing in efficiency first makes renewables more affordable.


I hear you – “where do I get $40,000? L-o-a-n is a 4-letter word!” One argument suggests that energy savings will cover loan payments, but this isn’t always true. Often, when substantial efficiency improvements are financed, banks make more money in interest than the homeowner realizes in savings. Housing is a long term social resource, and the burden of maintaining that resource should not fall entirely on the shoulders of its current, temporary, custodians.
To broaden the context, the US spends about $800 billion a year on military funding and Middle East “stabilization”. A substantial amount of that sum is spent in an attempt to secure foreign energy resources. What if we took half of that $800 billion and spent it on reducing the need to spend it on securing the resources that we wouldn’t need if we were more efficient? That much money would allow us to substantially reduce the energy requirements of about 10 million homes. In just over twelve years, they’d all be done and we’d need 75% less fuel oil, natural gas, and coal, to meet our home energy needs.


If that’s not fast enough, or you don’t like that particular funding plan, perhaps we can use the same approach used to bail out Wall Street. I don’t know how they did it, but somehow the government was able to cooperate and work at breakneck speed to find and spend over $5 trillion dollars in just a couple of years to keep the financial world on life support after they mortally wounded their own selves. Five trillion is pretty much exactly what we need to retrofit every home in the country for maximum efficiency. How about the feds step in to pay the interest down to 0% on homeowner loans that reduce energy consumption by 75% or more? That way, we reap the benefits of our investment - not the banks - in an energy independence “bail out” that actually has meaningful, long term effects. And five trillion represents a lot of jobs!


Like most of us, I’ve no shortage of ideas that will never work because they make too much sense to the 99%. The unfortunate fact is that the 1% pull the strings and make the decisions no matter how much input they ask us for in order to make us feel part of the process. Nothing short of a large scale tax revolt will change the way things work in Washington, and I’ll get on that band wagon right after you do. So in the meantime, take it personally and take action!

Views: 277

Comment

You need to be a member of Home Energy Pros to add comments!

Join Home Energy Pros

Comment by Bob Blanchette on January 20, 2012 at 8:46pm

Agreed artificially low energy prices has been killing the incentive to weatherize homes. The $400B comes out of taxpayers pockets and benefits ratepayers. Just another way the gubbament buys votes by playing Robinhood. Take the $400B from the top 60% (the bottom 40% pay no taxes) of income tax filers and give everybody the energy subsidy.

Featured Forum Discussions

Too many BTU's. Too much horsepower?

Started by Steve in General Forum. Last reply by Eric Kjelshus on Saturday. 4 Replies

Stack/wind pressure and flow networks.

Started by Daniel James Grundy in Training. Last reply by Daniel James Grundy on Thursday. 5 Replies

BDT with vermiculite in hollow CMU walls?

Started by Brad Cook in General Forum. Last reply by John Nicholas on Thursday. 2 Replies

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

Latest Activity

Profile IconMatt Ward and Lucifer Prescott joined Home Energy Pros
1 hour ago
Kent Mitchell replied to Rob Madden's discussion Energy auditing as a stand-alone business model...
"Swiftsure Energy has run as consultants, verifiers and raters for 8 years- we audit very few (about…"
3 hours ago
Horace Douglas Hunt, Jr. commented on Home Energy Magazine's blog post The Elephant in the Room
"poignant and timely story!"
6 hours ago
Horace Douglas Hunt, Jr. liked Home Energy Magazine's blog post The Elephant in the Room
6 hours ago
Home Energy Magazine's blog post was featured

The Elephant in the Room

Last week I attended the annual Home Performance Coalition (HPC) Conference & Trade Show in…See More
13 hours ago
Home Energy Magazine posted a blog post

The Elephant in the Room

Last week I attended the annual Home Performance Coalition (HPC) Conference & Trade Show in…See More
22 hours ago
Diane Chojnowski replied to Quinn Korzeniecki's discussion Don MacOdrum Receives BPI's 2017 Tony Woods Award and Four Others Inducted in to Hall of Fame in the group Building Performance Institute (BPI)
"Congratulations Mike! Thanks for all you do for the home performance industry!"
yesterday
Sarah OConnell's blog post was featured
yesterday

Home Energy Pros

Welcome to Home Energy Pros – the unique digital community by and for those who work in the home energy performance arena.

Home Energy Pros was founded by the developers of Home Energy Saver Pro (supported by the U.S. Department of Energy) and brought to you in partnership with Home Energy magazine.  Home Energy Pros is sponsored by the Better Buildings Residential Network. Please honor our Guidelines

© 2017   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service