Efficiency & HVAC Advice

To reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change, we will need to electrify many of the activities that now run directly on fossil fuels like heating our homes and businesses.  Every day our electricity gets cleaner and greener as we convert our electric grid to renewable power from offshore wind and solar. That gas fired furnace or hot water heater does not.  Electricity rates are also much more stable than the price of gas and oil. 

Heating and cooling is one of our larger demands on energy and bigger household expenses.  When it comes time to upgrade or replace your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, consider converting from gas or oil to electricity.  High efficiency heat pumps are powered by electricity and both heat and cool your home or business at lower cost.      

NASCSP — Technical assistance with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) reduces heating and cooling costs for low-income families, particularly for the elderly, people with disabilities, and children

Weatherization progress in Virginia is decribed here.

Estimates of total greenhouse gas emissions associated with buildings range from 13% (US EPA, 2019) to 28% (Architecture 2030).  Greenhouse gas emissions from homes and businesses arise primarily from fossil fuels burned for heat, cooking and lighting, and the use of various products that contain greenhouse gases. 

Investments in making your home more energy efficient can range from switching to LED lights and caulking windows to adding insulation and replacement windows.  The payback in terms of money saved on heating and electricity bills can show up in your very next electric or gas bill and in most instances can fully pay for themselves in a matter of months or years depending on the expense of your efficiency investments.  

The Natural Resources Defense Council has a handy room by room guide to a range of energy efficiency makeovers.   Check out Energy.gov/energysaver/energy-saver for more tips on improving household efficiency.  You can compare the relative energy efficiency of many household appliances on the US EPA’s Energy Star webpage. 

Additionally, using electricity to power your heating, cooling and cooking eliminates the combustion emissions in your home that contribute to indoor air pollution.   If you are upgrading your kitchen, consider an induction cooktop to cut your electricity use, clean up your indoor air and help save the planet. 

Low or no cost home energy audits can provide you with personalized advice from an energy efficiency professional. Check with your local utility or a non-profit like Viridiant.org.  Remember, with any home improvement including efficiency retrofits it is important to deal with reputable contractors, get more than one estimate, do your research and ask for references.  At a minimum, check with your local Better Business Bureau for a company’s history of complaints and complaint resolution. 

There are also a range of federal tax credits to help offset the costs of some of these conversions.