Home energy efficiency is a very common topic around here. I believe it is one of the best investments a person can make. It’s also one of the best investments our society can make. Home efficiency saves resources, reduces pollution, increases comfort and improves the economy. The best results occur with the local utility gets on board, offering programs that provide immediate savings and even greater benefits over the long-term.
Over the past decade, NV Energy’s energy efficiency programs have benefitted hundreds of thousands of Nevadans across the state by providing such services as rebates for purchasing efficient lights and appliances, weatherization assistance to low-income families to ensure homes are warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and grants to schools to create healthier and more comfortable learning environments. In total, NV Energy’s efficiency programs have saved Nevadans $150 million and avoided the cost of constructing a new large power plant. This is Vision with a capital “V” and it is the result of citizens, government, utility personnel and our Public Utilities Commission working together for the common good.
If you’ve purchased some low-cost energy-efficient light bulbs, whether at a local hardware store or at places like Home Depot, it is likely that you’ve benefitted from one of NV Energy’s most far-reaching programs. Hundreds of thousands of participants from all walks of life and all corners of the state continue to save on their electric bills because of it.
Perhaps you’ve received a rebate on an energy-efficient refrigerator or for recycling an old one that was picked up from your home for free. There’s even a low-income weatherization program that makes energy-saving improvements to homes occupied by low-income families, such as adding insulation and sealing leaky ductwork. This program covers households that do not qualify for federal energy assistance. Without this program, many of these families have no other alternatives. The results can be life-changing.
Energy efficiency is the low-hanging fruit, the no-brainer, the absolute least we can do to address big issues like climate change, resource depletion, unhealthy air and rising costs. If we can’t do that, and do it well, we might as well say “Adios!” to the future of life on this planet since things are much more dire than most people realize.
It’s important to know that these programs are under review and, unfortunately for us all, they may be severely curtailed in the very near future. We cannot afford to move backward and time is of the essence. This is a time when efficiency programs should be rapidly and deeply expanded, not the opposite. Any short-term costs should be viewed as investments in the future; our own and that of countless others who will benefit.
Short-sighted cost-cutting of efficiency programs seems to use the same logic as a corporate raider who creates the illusion of a profitable company by slashing quality and firing employees. There may be some brief benefit for a select few, but the overall effect is devastating. We need courageous decision-makers with vision who can look at the big picture and help guide our energy policy away from the brink.
Saving a few dollars now will result in spending many more dollars down the road. Following that road leads to a scenario where no amount of money can undo the damage from profligate and irresponsible consumption of energy. It leads in the wrong direction!
Our Public Utilities Commission (special emphasis on Public) will rule on this issue soon. This is a good time to let them know how you feel. Perhaps they will set a shining example of responsible stewardship and vision but there is certainly no guarantee. We desperately need to maintain and even increase the forward momentum of our residential energy efficiency programs in Nevada. After all, shouldn’t we live on the planet as if we intend to stay?