That question was recently asked to me by one of my clients. My answer was a resounding “YES IT CAN!” And I didn’t even follow it up with the common, weak but true statement, “Every little bit helps”. The reason is actually a topic that people in energy efficiency related industries talk about all the time. It’s the social phenomenon. It’s kind of like that new commercial on TV where one person sees another person doing a good deed, so they do a good deed, and someone else sees them, and so on and so on.
Think of it like this: one person has the improvements done to their home (after an energy audit of course) that will make it a more comfortable, healthy, and energy efficient place to live in. The neighbors see what’s going on and start asking questions. One of them inevitably says “Let me know how it turns out, we have been thinking about doing the same thing.” Also, the people that had the improvements done are going to tell their family and friends how much better his house is, so more questions pop up. NOW, throw in the biggies. Thanks to websites like Facebook and Twitter, not only do those people’s friends hear about it, but all their friends, friends, friends do as well.
Finally, mix this social phenomenon with a hot topic. Next, throw in the fact that people are stuck in their homes because they can’t afford to sell them. Now you have created a meteoric impact. Maybe not one the size that killed all the dinosaurs, but you get the picture. Energy audits, insulation, energy efficient windows and appliances may not be sexy topics, but when you’re stuck in that huge investment of a house, they start sounding more interesting all the time. Especially if they can save you money in the long run and make your house a more enjoyable place to live in.
So how does this affect the environment? It’s actually pretty simple. If we all used a little less energy, the power companies wouldn’t have to produce as much. This means they could stop investing money into building more electric generation plants (which have huge impacts on their local environment). They could use that extra capital to invest in replacing the countries antiquated power grid structure (which loses as much as 50% of the electricity as it’s transferred to you). This would in turn reduce the amount of coal burned to create electricity (more than half of electricity in the U.S. is produced this way). Now there is less pollutants in the air and fewer strip mines destroying the land. Also, it would reduce the need for companies to inject the toxic chemicals into the ground that are used for the hydraulic fracturing needed to release stores of natural gas. And let’s face it, do you really want another nuclear plant nearby after what happened in Japan?
For those of you that know me, know I am not some environmentalist tree hugger, but I do love the planet we live on. I also LOVE helping people make their homes more comfortable and energy efficient. So the answer to that simple question is “Yes you can make a difference” and yes “Every little bit helps” (I said it HA!) Just remember to make sure you find the right person to help guide you to make the most cost effective decisions. This way you don’t waste your money. And as always ……”Don’t throw money at your problems, throw knowledge, it’s a lot cheaper.”