Energy improvements can save Greater Cincinnati $60 million and create jobs
December 2, 2011 - Energy efficiency upgrades to the Greater Cincinnati area’s homes and non-profit buildings can save area residents $60 million via lower energy bills and create more than 300 local jobs, according to a study by the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance.
By Anthony Capkun
Study partners University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy say the study is the first of its kind in the region. Researchers found that routine energy upgrades—such as installing more insulation and reducing drafts, as well as upgrading heating and air-conditioning units—will also reduce energy-related air pollution.
“My mom used to say, ‘Close the door, you are letting the heat out’’ [and] that’s what we have here. Our house is our community and we have dollars leaking out,’’ said Jeff Rexhausen, associate director of research at the Economics Center. “The dollars are leaking out because we are spending them on energy. If we saved money on energy, we could spend our money on other things, and that would improve our local economy. That’s really what this report is about.’’
Commissioned by the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, researchers of the study examined energy, building, census and environmental data for Hamilton, Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties, which are all served by the non-profit group (the Energy Alliance provides low-cost financial incentives for homeowners and non-profit groups to make energy efficiency upgrades).
The report, “The Energy Efficiency Market in the Greater Cincinnati Region: Energy Savings Potential and Strategies to Improve Performance of Residential and Nonprofit Buildings,” quantifies the level of economic impact those upgrades can make to the region.
The findings were shared last month with leaders from local governments, businesses, banks and foundations to increase awareness and spur continued partnership with the Energy Alliance.
Researchers found that were 69,000 homeowners and 460 non-profits to make energy improvements using the alliance’s program, they would save $22.2 million in 2020 and $59.6 million in lower energy bills in 2030. Further, most homeowners would see immediate cash savings in the first year of the energy upgrade, and an average savings of $500 a year for 18 years.
“We know heating and air-conditioning systems, as well as windows, will be upgraded as usual,’’ said Andy Holzhauser, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance. “But now we can both drive new work and have a role in the existing market to make sure it’s getting done in a more efficient manner. We now can generate new investment in our economy.”
As homeowners save money on their energy bills, their spending will shift and create the need for jobs in other sectors of the local economy, researchers say. They calculated that around 317 local jobs would be created in 2030 in the areas of construction and manufacturing, as well as in trades and services. Those jobs would pump an additional $13 million into the local economy.
“Energy efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest and fastest energy resource available to the Cincinnati region,” said the alliance. Researchers also project that energy upgrades provided through Energy Alliance programs would reduce emissions of CO2 by 250,000 metric tons, nitrogen oxides by 340 metric tons, and sulphur dioxide by 1640 metric tons in 2030.
“This really has a triple bottom line: we can each make an investment in our homes and, in doing so, we will make an economic investment in our community that has a societal benefit as well as benefits to our earth and the climate,’’ Holzhauser said.