Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing our planet today. One of the main contributors to climate change is the use of fossil fuels to power our homes and vehicles. However, there are steps we can take to reduce our carbon emissions and lessen our impact on the environment. Choosing clean energy sources, such as renewable electricity, and energy-efficient homes and electric vehicles (EVs) can greatly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and decrease our energy costs.
Energy-efficient homes not only help to reduce energy costs, but they also help to decrease carbon emissions. With better design, insulation and appliances, energy-efficient homes can greatly reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool a home.
Similarly, EVs offer a cleaner alternative to gasoline cars, producing zero emissions and running on electricity from renewable energy sources. They also have lower operating costs and require less maintenance.
In addition to switching to clean energy and energy-efficient homes and vehicles, other steps like using public transit, biking, or walking for short trips also play a huge role in reducing carbon emissions. Government subsidies, tax credits, incentives, and other programs are also available to help make these choices more affordable for individuals.
In this blog post, we will explore the options available for choosing energy-efficient homes and EVs and the methods being taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We will also discuss how these choices can help to combat climate change and improve the environment while saving you money on energy costs.
Energy Efficient Homes
Eco-Efficiency: The trend of energy-saving homes on the rise
In 2019, the average household in the United States' energy use released 70% more CO2 emissions than the average passenger vehicle. However, having a green home is becoming more desirable to consumers. In fact, the number of homes being listed with energy-efficient features is on the rise, as homeowners look to lower their environmental impact.
Energy-efficient homes are designed and built to use less energy for heating, cooling, and lighting. They are designed to reduce the energy demand of households, lower energy bills, and decrease carbon emissions.
The Benefits of Home Energy Efficiency
- Energy conservation
Energy-efficient homes consume less energy. By reducing the energy usage of a home, homeowners can see significant savings on their energy bills. For example, a single-family home that has been retrofitted with energy-efficient upgrades is likely to see a reduction in their energy bills compared to a similarly sized home that has not been upgraded. Homeowners who make green upgrades to their house can save anywhere from five to 30% on their home energy bills.
- Reduced dependence on non-renewable energy sources
Non-renewable energy sources, such as coal, natural gas, and oil, are finite resources that will eventually run out. So, while an electric stove has a higher upfront cost than a gas stove, electric stoves typically have a more consistent temperature control, which can result in more efficient use of energy when cooking.
- Possible increase in home value and marketability
Energy-efficient homes tend to have a higher market value than their less efficient counterparts. In fact, homes with energy-efficient features are known to sell for a premium, often 2.7% more), compared to unrated homes. This is due to the numerous benefits that come with energy efficiency such as lower utility bills, improved indoor air quality, and a reduced environmental impact.
- Government incentives and rebates for energy-efficient upgrades
Many governments have programs in place to encourage home energy improvements. Additionally, several local and state government agencies offer home energy assessment programs and grants to help homeowners afford energy-efficient home improvements.
These programs can include incentives and rebates, which can help offset the cost of energy-efficient upgrades and make them more affordable for homeowners.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) which was signed into law in August 2022, is a comprehensive legislation that aims to reduce inflationary pressure and promote economic growth. It includes provisions that will affect both individuals and businesses through a number of tax credits and deductions. By providing tax incentives to individuals and businesses to invest in energy-efficient products and services, it aims to significantly reduce energy costs and promote the use of clean energy sources.
Tax Incentives for Energy-Efficient Home Upgrades
The act has introduced new federal income tax credits for homeowners, which are valid until 2032. These tax credits can help lower the cost of energy-efficient home upgrades up to 30%. These upgrades include:
- installing heat pumps
- heat pump water heaters
- doors and windows
- electrical panel upgrades
- homeenergy audits
The act also includes the Residential Clean Energy credit that has been modified and extended, allowing homeowners to claim a 30% tax credit for clean energy equipment, including solar panels, wind energy systems, geothermal heat pumps, and battery storage, through 2032.
Tax Credits for Energy-Efficient New Homes
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 includes updates and extensions to the Section 45L Tax Credit for Energy Efficient New Homes. This tax credit program is available for homes acquired on or after January 1, 2023, and is specifically linked to the ENERGY STAR certification for single-family homes, manufactured homes, and multi-family units. The tax credit has been extended till 2032
- Increased comfort
Energy efficient homes are often better sealed and insulated, which can lead to improved temperature control and increased comfort.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Energy Efficient Home
When it comes to choosing a home, it's important to consider its energy efficiency as well. By taking these factors into account, you can make a more informed decision and ensure that you're making an investment that will save you money and help protect the environment. Special considerations should be made for energy-efficiency in mobile homes, as they are often less energy-efficient than traditional homes.
Energy-efficient appliances and systems
Look for homes that have energy-efficient appliances, such as ENERGY STAR-rated refrigerators, dishwashers, and HVAC systems. ENERGY STAR is a labeling program run by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that helps consumers identify energy-efficient products, including appliances. ENERGY STAR labelled products can save you $4.50 for every $1 spent on electricity.
A well-insulated home will keep the heat in during the winter and out during the summer. Thus reducing the energy demand on your air conditioner and heating systems. In turn, this leads to lower energy consumption and utility bills.
Energy-efficient lighting, such as LED or CFL light bulbs, use less energy and last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. Look for homes with additional energy-saving features like solar water heating, green roofs, rainwater harvesting and more
Look for homes that have certifications such as LEED or HERS. These certifications are third-party verification that the home meets certain energy-efficiency codes and standards.
Energy Efficient Vehicles
Energy-efficient vehicles, particularly electric vehicles, are becoming increasingly popular as the automotive market shifts towards sustainable and environmentally-friendly options. Electric vehicles (EVs) produce zero emissions while in operation and are powered by electricity from renewable energy sources, making them a cleaner alternative to gasoline cars.
The shift towards EVs is driven by the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net-zero emissions in the transportation sector, which is a significant contributor to global warming. Governments and automakers around the world are investing in the development and production of electric cars and the expansion of charging infrastructure to support the adoption of EVs. Over 2.9 million plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles have been sold in the United States since 2010.The trend is clear, the shift is happening and the future of transportation seems to be electric.
The Benefits of Energy Efficient Vehicles
- Electric Motors vs Internal Combustion Engines
Electric motors are significantly more efficient than internal combustion engines. They can convert a high percentage of electrical energy into propulsion power, with an efficiency rate of around 80%, while only losing 20% of energy as heat. In contrast, internal combustion engines have a lower conversion rate, with only around 25% of energy being used for propulsion and the majority lost as heat.
- Environmentally Friendly
Electric vehicles have no tailpipe emissions, making them more environmentally friendly than gasoline vehicles.
- Fuel Economy
On average, modern electric cars have an efficiency of 3 to 3.5 miles per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy used. Early electric cars were only able to achieve 2 miles per kWh.
"Range anxiety" is a significant concern for consumers when considering purchasing an electric vehicle (EV). Fortunately, the 2022 and 2023 model year EVs available in the United States vary in range. The lowest range EVs are able to travel 100 miles on a single charge, while the highest range goes up to 520 miles. This gives potential buyers a wide range of options to choose from depending on their needs and concerns.
- Fuel Costs
EV drivers tend to spend about 60% less each year on fuel costs compared to drivers of gas-powered cars. It is also worth mentioning that with the increasing number of renewable energy sources, the cost of electricity is decreasing, which makes EVs even more cost-effective.
Typically, electric vehicles cost half as much to maintain and repair as gas-powered cars. EVs have fewer moving parts than internal combustion engines, which means they require less maintenance and repair. For example, EVs don't need oil changes, spark plugs, or mufflers and have brake systems that last longer.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Energy Efficient Vehicle
While electric vehicles boast a wide range of benefits, there are several questions you need to answer before making the switch.
1. What is my daily driving range?
Consider how far you typically drive in a day and whether an EV will be able to meet your daily needs.
2. What is the availability of charging stations near my home and along my usual routes?
Electric vehicles require charging stations to recharge their batteries, and if the charging infrastructure is not widely available, it can make it more difficult to own and operate an electric vehicle. Before purchasing an electric vehicle, research the availability of charging stations in your area and along your usual routes.
3. What is the cost of ownership?
Compare the upfront cost, ongoing maintenance costs and running costs of an EV versus a traditional gasoline vehicle.
4. How long do I plan to keep the vehicle?
Electric cars have a longer lifespan than traditional cars, so consider how long you plan to keep the vehicle and if it makes sense for you.
5. Are there any government incentives or tax credit available for buying an EV?
EV tax credit for new vehicles
The new EV tax credit, also known as the clean vehicle credit, is worth $7,500 and is split into two parts of $3,750 each. To be eligible for the credit, both the vehicle and the consumer must meet certain requirements.
First, a vehicle must have battery components that are manufactured or assembled in North America in order to qualify for the first half of the credit ($3,750). To qualify for the second half of the credit ($3,750), the vehicle must have critical minerals that were extracted or processed in the U.S. or countries with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement, or must use critical minerals that were recycled in North America. Additionally, the final assembly of the vehicle must take place in North America.
It's also worth noting that only vehicles with a price under $55,000 for cars and under $80,000 for SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks are eligible for the credit.
Answering these questions will help you to make an informed decision and determine if an electric vehicle is the right choice for you.
Choosing an energy-efficient home or vehicle is a smart move not just for your wallet but also for the planet. Whether you're in the market for a new home or car, taking the time to research and compare options can pay off in the long run.
By considering factors like insulation, appliances, and charging infrastructure, you'll be well on your way to a more sustainable future. And remember, energy efficiency isn't just about saving money, it's about being kind to mother nature too. So, don't be afraid to make the switch, you'll be doing your part in helping to reduce carbon footprint.
Let Us Do The Heavy Lifting
Are you ready to invest in a cleaner future? Look no further! At GGI, we are dedicated to helping individuals and businesses make sustainable choices that will not only benefit the environment but also save you money in the long run.
So, don't wait any longer, contact GGI today and let us work together to make a difference!