As the days get longer, more and more Americans are cranking up their air conditioners and turning on their fans. Meanwhile, their energy costs continue to climb—and they’re feeling it. In a poll last week, nearly 8 out of 10 people said saving on energy costs was deeply important to them—more important than issues like the federal deficit.
This isn’t news to the millions of low-income families who worry every single day about their utility bills—the families who are struggling to stay cool as temperatures climb. But it is a good reminder to our nation’s leaders that energy policies hit folks at home, and in their wallets. By making it a priority to help Americans achieve energy savings, our leaders can provide real help to struggling families.
Government has a big role to play in bringing energy savings to consumers. In fact, existing federal efficiency standards for appliances alone will have saved consumers a net $1.1 trillion by 2035, according to a recent report.
Cutting electricity use is also one of the best ways we can create good jobs for Americans. Upgrading and constructing buildings is labor-intensive, and the work has to be performed on-site, which creates lots of jobs—jobs that stay in local communities.
There are a number of simple solutions that will create energy savings for more Americans– including tax credits and innovative financing. And we can do it through efforts like MPower, our new program that brings efficiency upgrades to affordable housing and cuts utility costs for the people who need it most—our elderly, disabled, and low-income families.
But this isn’t just about reducing costs and keeping homes comfortable. Using less energy helps fight global warming—something that is becoming harder to ignore with each passing day. The U.S. just recorded the hottest spring in our history. The average number of heat-related deaths is expected to triple by the end of the century, according to a new report. Meanwhile, we’re seeing tornadoes, wildfires, and other natural disasters become more frequent and more destructive.
Energy efficiency may seem like a drop in the bucket. But it is one of our most powerful weapons for fighting climate change. In fact, buildings account for a whopping 39 percent of global warming pollution produced in the United States. The only way to change that is to make them use less electricity.
Americans care deeply about saving energy because it affects our pocketbooks. It affects our lungs. Our livelihoods. Our safety. If our leaders fail to invest in energy efficiency now, we can expect to see more and more extreme temperatures. We can look forward to more tornadoes, hurricanes, and wildfires—along with drought, famine, and disease.
If our leaders instead pause and listen to what Americans are saying—if they make it a priority to help families cut their energy use—we can steer away from these frightening weather extremes. We can steer towards a healthier, more prosperous and peaceful world—and a brighter future for our kids and grandkids.