Improving energy efficiency through utility bills?

bernie sanders utility billA US senator has put forward measures that he said would have the twofold effect of reducing energy bills while simultaneously financing energy efficiency schemes.

Senator Bernie Sanders revealed his vision for a program that could help customers use savings on their monthly power bills to finance energy efficiency improvements at homes and small businesses. Sanders, who is US senator for Vermont, proposed the move while he was chairing a hearing by the Senate green jobs subcommittee earlier this month.

“It is a simple and straightforward concept, and it presents a huge opportunity to cut energy bills, create jobs, and slash greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution,” he said.

Job creating through energy efficiency

Sanders claimed that in addition to savings for customers and the environmental benefits, studies show that energy efficiency and sustainable energy investments stimulate job creation more than those in fossil fuels.

He went on to describe how a number of similar energy efficiency utility bill schemes in other states had allowed consumers to finance home-based and small business energy efficiency improvements in small installments over a period of time.

“In Vermont, we have led the nation in energy efficiency, and actually cut electric consumption by 14 percent over the last 10 years compared with projected demand,” Sanders said.

“I am pleased our governor’s new energy plan endorses on-bill financing as a way to help Vermonters access the funds to make our homes and businesses more efficient and move us toward more solar and geothermal and sustainable energy.”

Comprehensive energy plan

Earlier in the month Vermont’s Department of Public Service released its draft Comprehensive Energy Plan, which focused on the state’s goal of meeting 90 percent of its energy needs using renewable energy sources by 2050.

“The goal is underpinned by this strategy: to virtually eliminate Vermont’s reliance upon oil by mid-century by moving toward enhanced efficiency measures, greater use of clean, renewable sources for electricity, heating, and transportation, and electric vehicle adoption, while increasing our use of natural gas and biofuel blends where nonrenewable fuels remain necessary,” the report said.

The report highlighted the possibilities of exploiting solar thermal systems to address the state’s water heating needs. Around two-thirds of Vermont’s current energy usage goes towards heating and transportation. It estimated that the state’s residents spent $600 million last year on the import of fossil fuels for use in private residences, businesses and other types of building.

The state of Vermont currently derives almost 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources.

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