Roadblocks to Energy Efficiency

What will it take for consumers to understand that the energy they use can be managed more effectively? This summer was one of the hottest on record in the Northeast and as I sit and write this latest blog, the temperature has reached a blistering 90°. During these hot periods, the energy demand that is being placed on homes, businesses and facilities skyrockets. The demand for energy increases and the desire to create a larger infrastructure continues to rise. What will it take for the general public to realize that this is an issue?

Sadly, consumers remain largely uninformed on what needs to be done to reduce energy consumption, which would also reduce the amount of carbon emissions that are released into the environment. One would think that consumers would want to reduce their energy consumption since the added benefit would be a reduction in their utility bills. However, with the economy in the state that it is in, people are unwilling to dole out money upfront to reduce energy consumption, (e.g., to conduct an energy study of existing facilities, equipment upgrades, correcting maintenance issues, etc.) even if this investment would be returned in 6 months.

The economy has put a crimp on our long term outlook and not given us a path to make the improvements that are necessary to reduce our energy bills. For example, the banks have put a limit on the amount of larger equipment financing – which is essential to finance an energy efficiency project.

The one place left for us to turn to for help is the government, but there always seems to be a catch. Rebates and incentives have been limited, at best. Money that has been allocated for energy spending hasn’t hit the streets. Even the general buzz on the internet as of late is, “Where has all the stimulus money gone?” The truth is it has not been spent (Energy Funds Went Unspent, U.S. Auditor Says) as is stated in the NY Times. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal (White House Under Fire for Unspent Infrastructure Cash), less than 30% of the stimulus money has been spent for shovel ready projects. If the government were to begin using these earmarked funds for what they were intended, the boost could help the economy in the short term and provide some long term benefits to the environment. Instead, it has decided that the stimulus money is better spent on repaving roads that are infrequently used or that have already been repaved in the last five years. I do have to admit though – that fresh asphalt sure is smooth.

As a professional in the engineering/construction industry, I feel it is my duty to be the impetus for change. This is why this blog was created, why speaking at conferences to educate building owner’s as often as possible is important to me, and keeping well informed on any government action is a top priority – all to push forward the great benefits of being energy efficient. Which leaves us with this question, “What can you do?”

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Filed under Building efficiency, energy audit, energy efficiency, Retrofit, stimulus funds

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