Low-income, Consumer, & Environmental Groups Present Energy Efficiency Solutions To Address Soaring Heating Costs This Winter

Environment Colorado

DENVER– Energy Outreach Colorado, CoPIRG and Environment Colorado urged lawmakers today to take action to reduce the burden of soaring energy costs while highlighting easy steps homeowners can take to reduce their heating costs this winter.

Homeowners and businesses will face billions of dollars in additional heating costs this winter – expenditures that could cause serious financial and economic hardship. The analysis of recent data showed that the overall costs to state economies more than justify an emergency effort to reduce fuel consumption and improve the energy efficiency of homes and businesses before winter sets in.

“Consumers who are getting hit by skyrocketing bills this winter need common clean energy solutions. In Colorado we are expected to have a home heating costs rise by 36% this winter,” said Rex Wilmouth director of CoPIRG.

“We can’t control how high energy prices will climb, but we can control how much we use,” said Shelly Wallace, director of long-term energy solutions for Energy Outreach Colorado. “Programs to make homes more efficient and teach residents how to use less energy are essential to helping them become healthy and stable for the long-term.”

High prices have prompted some to call for more drilling on public lands and an increase in off-shore drilling. “In Colorado, we are already seeing record rates of drilling, but it has done nothing to reduce high prices this winter. Instead, the fastest, cheapest and cleanest forms of relief from these price increases come from energy efficiency,” said Matt Garrington, Field Organizer for Environment Colorado.

At an event held in Denver today, CoPIRG released several analyses showing that homeowners can set a good example for the state and federal government by reducing their energy use.

“Not only should all Americans do their part in reducing energy costs, Congress and state governments should also take action to move toward cleaner and safer renewable forms of energy, help consumers most in need this winter, and make all appliances as efficient as possible,” said Wilmouth.

The groups called on Congress and the Colorado General Assembly to act to achieve reductions in home heating costs over the long term. The groups recommended a number of steps to reduce heating costs, including accelerating and extending energy efficiency tax incentives for buildings.

The groups called on the Department of Energy to issue long-overdue minimum energy efficiency performance standards for certain appliance and equipment products including furnaces. DOE has repeatedly ignored legal deadlines requiring it to issue minimum energy efficiency performance standards for over twenty kinds of power-thirsty appliances and equipment on which consumers and businesses depend.

The groups called on state governments to set a tone for the public in how they use energy. Businesses and individual consumers are more likely to take energy conservation seriously if they see public officials conserving energy. CoPIRG identified several steps state governments can take to “lead by example” in the energy crisis and, at the same time, save taxpayers money.

Colorado should initiate energy audits of government buildings and immediately implement all cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities, according to CoPIRG. “States should also allocate funds for municipalities and state-affiliated institutions such as universities to conduct energy audits and to assist them in implementing recommended changes,” said Wilmouth.

CoPIRG released new data on the twelve easiest steps to easily reduce home energy costs. These tips include using energy efficient light bulbs, reducing hot water heater temperatures, tightening windows and filling gaps and cracks in windows in the home.

The CoPIRG research shows that if all windows were as efficient as the best products now widely available in the marketplace, the average household would save $150 a year. According to CoPIRG, cheaper methods like insulating windows during colder months with transparent film that keeps the heat in and the cold out are also effective.

Environment Colorado and CoPIRG also called on member of Congress to support a Renewable Portfolio Standard, (RPS). The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has said that requiring major electric companies to gradually increase sales of electricity from wind, solar and other renewable sources to 10 percent by 2020 would save consumers more than $22 billion and reduce the cost of natural gas. Such a renewable portfolio standard would also create more than 90,000 jobs, foster rural economic development and reduce emissions that cause global warming.