One of the best and most exciting parts of my job is helping make homes and businesses more efficient. Why? The places where we live and work consume 40% of the energy we use in the U.S. Through tune-ups to existing homes or new construction, doing more while using less energy is key to improving our buildings and energy future.
Last week, we announced that during the month of June, more than 31,000 low-income homes nationwide underwent retrofits to use less energy. This month represents the largest number of homes ever upgraded – or “weatherized” – in a single month. Through the Recovery Act, more than 80,000 homes will be weatherized across the country this summer. By March 2012, that total will grow to nearly 600,000 homes – each with upgrades like better furnaces, insulation, and caulking. They will use less energy, perform better, and save homeowners money.
These energy-efficient upgrades are important to the thousands of Americans who are paying less for utilities, and they are also important to the 13,000 American workers whose jobs are supported by our weatherization program.
But when you step back, there is an even bigger trend developing, driven by strong policy and initiatives. Community partnerships are coming up with creative ways to enable energy tune-ups for more and more homes. Places like Washington, New Hampshire, San Antonio, and many others are working with lenders to establish loan funds to help consumers pay the upfront costs of energy-saving improvements so they can upgrade their homes even in economic tough times.
Gene Brady – who has been helping communities in Pennsylvania save energy for 25 years – is leading the charge to install and test new in-home energy monitors to help homeowners make wise choices about energy use. Maine, a state that relies heavily on imported heating oil, has set a target to improve the energy efficiency of all residences and half of its businesses by 2030. Businesses across America are hiring experts to stop energy and money from escaping their buildings and bottom lines.
That is good for America, and that’s what gets me excited.
Have questions about weatherization and saving energy in your home? Send them our way via Facebook, Twitter (#weatherization) or email and we’ll have our experts follow-up with responses in the coming days. You can also find home energy saving tips by visiting EnergySavers.gov.
Article by Cathy Zoi, Assistant Secretary for Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy.