Being more energy efficient can help cut your bills and better the community

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The U.S. Energy Information Administration shows Virginians pay the sixth highest power bills in the nation and is ranked 31st on renewable energy usage.

“It has a lot to do, I believe, and this is my opinion, with Virginia’s utility model, especially the model for what are called investor owned utilities,” Joy Loving, a member of the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley and of 50 by 25 Harrisonburg, said.

That means those utilities have the ability to be fully reimbursed for projects, like rate adjustments.

“When they spend money on infrastructure projects, the rate payers will fund it and then give them a profit also,” Loving explained.

Electric co-ops have a different model but do have to go through the State Corporation Commission.

Municipal electric utilities are run by the towns that own them, which means elected officials approve rate increases.

Loving says there are ways you can bring the cost down, like changing the amount of insulation your property has, turning the lights off when you leave the room or unplugging appliances until you need them.

“Changing the lightbulbs that you use to the more energy efficient types that are out there. There are timers you can put on your water heater, for example, to shut it off at a time when you don’t need hot water,” she added.

Doing things like this will also help the entire community by reducing the carbon footprint.

“When we use less carbon, we are helping the air quality in our city, we’re emitting less,” Loving said.

She says that collaborating as a community to come up with a climate plan is the best way to reduce our carbon footprint and to make a difference, especially in areas like ours.

“All of the localities in the Central Valley, which depend so heavily on the kinds of environmental factors that greatly affect agriculture production, so I’m talking about droughts and flooding and so on, I’m hoping that they will see the wisdom of doing this and engaging the entire community because we all have a role to play,” Loving said.

She says using solar is another way to help the environment, cut energy costs and decentralize electricity generation.

The current system is centralized, where most of our electricity comes from our utilities and they centralize that in plants, like coal plants or natural gas plants.

“If community centers had solar, then we could provide power to people who need to, charge their phones, or to help first responders, so that’s a resilience technique and distributed solar can help with that,” Loving said.

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