We’re all familiar with the litany of problems associated with our current electricity system. Households struggle to meet higher bills; the State faces the prospect of brownouts by 2011; and Maryland’s heavy reliance on coal-based power contributes to global warming. On top of that, the State may face a shortage of water in the future.
However, we also know what the solutions are—they include cleaner energy (including renewables) and more transmission capability. But far and away, the cheapest, most effective part of the solution is energy conservation. At Civic Works, our Project Lightbulb is working with hundreds of homeowners each month to reduce their power and water consumption. In each home, AmeriCorps members are installing up to of 15 compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), plus water aerators and low-flow showerheads; and wrapping water heaters with insulation. We’ve documented that for each house, these items will save an average of 53 kilowatt hours per month, and we estimate that they save 840 gallons of water each month. In about two years, these savings, plus gas savings, will more than exceed the $250 per home cost of the program.
What if Baltimore made a commitment to install these items in every low-income household over five years? That would have a huge impact on utility bills and power consumption. Consider that in 2000, the city had 110,422 households earning below $25,000 and let’s say that through this proposed energy campaign, the city installed CFLs, aerators, etc. in 75% of these homes. That would translate into the following savings:
- Annual reduction in electric bills of 52,670,976 kilowatt hours—yielding savings to residents of $6,847,227 each year (at BGE’s current rate of 13 cents/kwh). More would be saved through reductions in gas use.
- Estimated annual reduction in water consumption of 834,785,280 gallons of water, reducing water bills and the growing pressure on our water supply.
And who knows, with a reduction in per capita energy demand, we might actually see electric prices come down.