NEWS

Greenfield's 2011 Energy Use Report Card Published & New 10% Challenge Goals Announced

Feb 24, 2012 – The Greening Greenfield Energy Committee (GGEC) released its annual Energy Use Report Card today, and set a new goal for its 10% Challenge. To see the report card download pdf.

“This report card shows that our 10% challenge is working in some ways and not in others” said Becca King and Susan Worgaftik, co-organizers of the 10% Challenge and members of GGEC. “Greenfield’s oil heating users are doing a great job, but our other uses of fossil fuels show we have a lot of work to do.”

GGEC hopes to expand both the number of households taking the challenge to 1600, which is 20% of Greenfield’s households, as well as increase the energy savings achieved by each household.  1124 households have already taken the Challenge, so they are looking for another 476 households who want to cut their energy costs, use less fossil fuels, and get a free lawn sign.

The big success story of the 2011 Energy Use Report Card, is that people who use heating oil are continuing to cut their oil use. Since the winter of 2007, on average, people have cut their oil use by 131 gallons per year. At today’s prices that is a savings of almost $500 per year. “Remember, this is average usage. Some people like Phillip & Esther Johnson, our Green Heroes for November 2011, cut their oil use by 970 gallons (from 1420 gallons to 450 gallons) for an annual savings of $3,744 at today’s prices, by taking the advice of a free Mass Save energy audit, and installing a new heating system,” said Nancy Hazard, the GGEC member who compiled the data for the Report Card.

Natural gas users did not do so well. Last winter, they used, on average, about the same amount gas they used during the winter of 2007. “We suspect that natural gas usage has not dropped because it is less expensive than oil, so the financial incentive to cut gas usage is not as great,” said Hazard. “Last winter, an average household spent about $1,460 to heat a home. Although less expensive than oil, $1460 is still a lot of money, and people who improve their homes could still save significantly.  After all, a 10% savings is $146 and we know most people can save three to five times as much by insulating their homes and upgrade their heating systems – and they will be more comfortable.”

“Electricity use is also very stubborn,” noted Hazard. “Many of us have lots of new gadgets that use electricity.” Last year’s average electrical usage was higher than it was in 2007.  On average, last year we paid $98 each month, which is $26 more than in 2007.

“We can and must do better to reach our goal of cutting energy use and climate change emissions by 80% by 2050, ” said Hazard. “For example, many people pay less than $50/month for electricity, and less than $700/year for heat. Several people in the area have even figured out how to be comfortable and use NO fossil fuels or wood to heat and light their homes! If we cut our energy use today, we will be better prepared for rising fossil fuel costs and fuel scarcity in the years to come.”

GGEC suggests that one way to learn how to cut electrical use is to borrow a kill-a-watt meter from the Greenfield Public Library and measure the electrical use of each appliance.  They note that if people replace high energy-use appliances with more efficient ones, or unplug appliances not in use, they can save a lot of money. Another way to cut fossil fuel and nuclear-generated electricity is to install solar panels. Jen Stromsten and David Brock, GGEC’s January Green Heroes, did that by installing solar electric panels that they rent from a third party. They paid nothing to have the panels installed, and now half of their electricity is made from the sun, and each month they pay the same or less for electricity than in the past.

“Since science has proven that global warming is caused primarily by human activity, and we know that the cost of fossil fuels will go up, now is a great time to explore what each of us can do. Our utility companies are offering free energy assessments, air sealing, and $2,000-$3,000 toward insulation,” says Hazard.  “We should all take advantage of this.  It is a great opportunity to make changes at a reasonable cost.  It takes persistence, not sacrifice.”

In Greenfield, renters, landlords, and homeowners can get assistance to find the financial incentives that are right for them by calling Energy Smart Homes at 413-772-1389. Other people in Massachusetts should call Mass Save at 1-800-944-3212.

GGEC would like to thank Sandri Companies, Berkshire Gas, and WMECO for supplying our energy and sharing this data with Greenfield, and Stacy Metzger for donating her time to make the Energy Use Report Card graphic. GGEC uses “greening” as the economic and inspirational engine to build a sustainable Greenfield so current and future generations can enjoy live in this beautiful abundant valley. To join the 10% Challenge and find out simple things you can do, GGEC events and more, please go to www.GreeningGreenfield.org.

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