Its Time for Missouri to Get Energy-Efficient; Saving Energy; Homeowners, Businesses and Utilities All Can Play a Part; OTHER VIEWS

Article excerpt

In 2010, I got tired of my house being cold and drafty. In researching how to make it more comfortable and economical to heat, I discovered that my gas furnace was inefficient and my attic insulation inadequate. Also, my house had many leaks. After I fixed each problem, my gas usage dropped 30 percent, and I even received a rebate from the local gas utility to help pay for a new high- efficiency furnace.

Missouri homeowners and businesses should embrace energy efficiency. Our opportunity is big because Missourians are wasting so much energy. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranked Missouri 43rd out of the 50 states for energy efficiency. In fact, an August 2011 study by ACEEE determined that a comprehensive energy efficiency program in Missouri could reduce forecast electricity use by 17.3 percent by 2025.

Energy efficiency provides a triple benefit: lower utility bills, less air pollution and more good jobs. Utility customers who make efficiency upgrades will see savings on their bills month after month. Because energy efficiency is the most affordable way for utilities to meet demand, even customers who dont participate in efficiency programs will see savings on their utility bills. For example, my neighbor may not replace his old refrigerator with a new efficient fridge, but many of my other neighbors will. Together, those efficient appliances could reduce demand so much that our utility can avoid building a new power plant a power plant that we would all pay for through higher bills. In that way, energy efficiency will keep down rates saving money for everyone, even my neighbor with the wasteful old fridge. Of course, folks who do make efficiency upgrades will see the most savings. Families whose homes are weatherized can expect to save $437 on their first years utility bills.

Energy efficiency also will cut air pollution. By reducing demand, efficiency would allow us to retire dirty old coal-burning power plants. Burning coal fills our air and our lungs with soot, mercury and sulfur dioxide. In Missouri, 82 percent of our electricity comes from coal-burning power plants. Air pollution from just six of the coal plants in our state was responsible for 690 premature deaths in Missouri in 2011, according to the Harvard Six Cities study. …