Energy efficiency is commonly considered the “First Fuel.”
Cheaper than renewables, more job-intensive than fossil fuels, it’s the easiest way to save money for ratepayers, reduce air pollution, and create steady local jobs.
Because of this, Connecticut law mandates that our state’s energy needs must be met first by reducing demand through energy efficiency whenever doing so is cost-effective, rather than by increasing the supply of energy.
Improving efficiency doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort or convenience. Homes that are well-insulated and weatherproofed are warmer in winter, cooler in the summer, and less drafty.
Saving energy also means that power plants generate less of other air pollutants, like nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide, thereby protecting public health and improving the quality of life for Connecticut residents.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
CFE advocates for investments in our state’s energy efficiency programs because they are good for Connecticut’s economy and save money for residents. Additionally, energy efficiency must be part of any viable plan for reaching our state’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments.
Read more on our Climate Plan page
Improving efficiency can make homes more comfortable while saving residents money and reducing pollution, but maximizing these benefits takes smart financing that helps families pay for upgrades. In January 2013, CFE and ENE (Environment Northeast) jointly released a paper that answers the question "What makes an energy efficiency financing program successful?"
CFE advocates for adequate funding for our state's efficiency programs, and full access to these programs for heating oil customers. We believe providing potential homebuyers and renters with information about the energy performance of homes they are considering is a smart move that will drive interest in efficiency and help people choose comfortable places to live, with no unpleasant heating bill surprises come winter.
Read more on our legislative agenda
Efficiency isn’t just about heating and cooling—thanks in part to CFE’s efforts, Connecticut has adopted efficiency standards for appliances like refrigerators that save money for ratepayers each and every month. In 2011, we successfully advocated for the creation of standards for televisions and other home electronics to combat “vampire draw”—the electricity that many modern gadgets use whenever they’re plugged in.
BUILDING GREEN TO BUILD CONNECTICUT’S ECONOMY
About 20 percent of Connecticut’s greenhouse gas emissions come from residential buildings, mostly from energy used to heat and cool our homes. Commercial and industrial buildings add another 15 percent.
Our building stock is old and inefficient, built before Connecticut had any meaningful building code; about 84 percent of the state’s housing stock was built before 1980, and 45 percent before 1960.
The good news is that there is a lot of room for improvement. Through Home Energy Solutions and other programs, Connecticut offers help to property owners in retrofitting their buildings with better insulation, windows, boilers, and other efficiency measures.
Much of this work is done by local small businesses, offering a double economic benefit. First, increased demand for skilled labor means more jobs for engineers, installers and technicians— on-the-ground jobs that can’t be outsourced. Secondly, residents who save money on their bills can spend that cash in their own communities, rather than sending it out-of-state to coal, gas, or oil companies. That extra spending power generates additional economic activity in other sectors.
Studies have shown that investing in energy efficiency generates three or four times as many jobs-per-dollar as investing fossil fuels.
In 2009, we helped pass legislation that provides a tax credit to developers who build green buildings, thereby ensuring that there is a strong incentive to make new developments efficient right from the start.