State energy efficiency campaign yields $8 billion in savings

A new campaign in Massachusetts to weatherize homes has reaped over $8 billion in energy savings, according to a new study.

Local news publication The Sentinel & Enterprise reports that Community Labor United (CLU) – an initiative comprising a number of environmental, community and labor groups from across the state – has helped to introduce more sustainable methods of gas and electricity use. This has saved billions of dollars in utility costs for residents and reduced the state's carbon footprint by 25.6 million short tons, equal to taking 399,000 cars off the road for a year.

CLU's work is predicated on home weatherization services. The group advocates that by weatherproofing houses, homeowners can make their properties more insulated and, in turn, cheaper to heat and cool. Massachusetts has a state weatherization program – Mass Save – established to provide these offerings to families looking to become more eco-friendly. The initiative is funded by homeowners through their utility expenses, which represents a problem in of itself. As Joel Wool, an organizer with the nonprofit group Clean Water Action, tells the source, many families can't access Mass Save even though they put money into it.

"We all pay for energy efficiency," said Wool. "If some can't access it, it's a problem."

According to CLU, there are a number of immigrant, minority and low- to moderate-income families in Massachusetts that have been paying for Mass Save but don't qualify for fuel assistance themselves. To amend this, CLU has begun working to offer income-based rebates for weatherization in these communities, which would yield up to $59 million in energy savings over the next 20 years.

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