One of the things people noticed during the COVID-19 lockdowns was that skies were clearer due to less air pollution associated with commuters because there were far fewer vehicles on the road. As our world, nation and capital region finally can see the light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic, we also can hold onto the benefits of clearer skies and cleaner air — without sacrificing our economy, comfort and convenience.
A simple rule of thumb for everyone committed to energy efficiency is this — the cleanest and least expensive energy — whether it is electricity, natural gas, gasoline, diesel or oil — is the energy that we do not use. During the winter, Washington, D.C., uses 60 percent more energy to keep people and spaces warm compared to the energy it takes to cool them in the summer. Peak cooling demand, not surprisingly, comes in the summer months. While the transition to spring — with its longer daylight and comfortable temperatures — might not seem like the best time to talk about energy savings. It actually is the perfect time.
Fortunately for customers in DC, there are many options to consider, multiple resources available and the ability to tailor them and customize to fit your preference and needs. Washington Gas offers its customers access to an online Home Energy Profile Tool at https://washingtongas.energysavvy.com/residential/start. This tool asks a series of questions about your home and then provides customized energy savings tips based on your answers. The customized report recommends actions from changing thermostat settings to specific upgrades for older appliances and estimates the savings associated with those actions.
There also are many energy efficiency rebates offered by the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU). Consider that the best time to update or upgrade heating and cooling systems is when they are not in use. If your furnace was making funny noises last winter, or your AC wasn’t blowing as cold (or seemed to cycle on more often), the DCSEU (https://www.dcseu.com) administers energy efficiency programs for the District of Columbia that can assist you. Time and again, the DCSEU has helped homeowners, apartment building owners, restaurants, universities, hospitals, entertainment venues and even Union Station save energy.
Funded by a surcharge on all Washington, D.C., customers’ electricity and natural gas bills, the DCSEU provides residents, businesses and property owners with an extensive program and product offering, including rebates for high-efficiency equipment that make these equipment options more affordable. Reducing the purchase costs means customers can enjoy the energy and cost savings associated with everything from smart thermostats (that save energy while you’re away but prepare your home to be comfortable when you return) to high-efficiency natural gas furnaces and more.
For people who are not looking to make those big investments, the DCSEU offers some simple low-cost options such as a home energy conservation kit for only $10, and free kits for income-qualified residents. Customers using the items in the kit can save up to $40 per year on utilities — a four to one return without sacrificing comfort or convenience.
The kit includes LED light bulbs which use up to 90 percent less energy (than incandescent bulbs). It also contains an advanced power strip which saves energy by preventing devices from using energy when they are turned “off” (so-called “phantom power” or “vampire loads” when devices are in standby mode)), as well as a faucet aerator that cuts water use by one third. For more information on the contents of the conservation kit, please visit www.dcseu.com/.
Last year, Washington Gas released an industry-leading Climate Business Plan explaining how the company plans to evolve its energy offerings and help the District meet its ambitious climate goals. The plan focuses on three pillars including Energy Efficiency, which is the largest contributor to emissions reductions. Our most recent community meeting on the plan focused on Energy Efficiency and featured presentations from DCSEU, Washington Gas and Exergy Partners Corporation. You can access those presentations and a recording of the meeting at https://washingtongasdcclimatebusinessplan.com/energy-efficiency-whats-in-it-for-you.
As part of its commitment to address climate change, Washington Gas also is participating in a Public Service Commission working group that is working to establish energy efficiency and demand response programs that Washington Gas will introduce to provide significant and permanent energy savings opportunities to residents and businesses that will add to the existing programs.
We are all in this together. To make an impact, it is important that we all do our part, including participating in the many ways we can all use energy more efficiently and save money along the way. Don’t forget that Washington Gas is right there with you every step of the way.
Washington Gas will continue working to help the District achieve its climate goals and encourages residents to do their part now with simple steps to save money — and energy — by making their homes more efficient.