The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance shares study findings with local business leaders
Cincinnati—Energy efficiency upgrades to the area’s homes and nonprofit buildings can save area residents $60 million in lower energy bills and create more than 300 local jobs, according to a study released today by the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance.
The study, conducted by the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, 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.’ 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 University of Cincinnati’s 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.’’
Researchers of the study, commissioned by the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, examined energy, building, census, and environmental data for Hamilton, Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties, which are all served by the nonprofit group. The Energy Alliance provides low-cost financial incentives for homeowners and nonprofit 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 if 69,000 homeowners and 460 nonprofits make energy improvements using the Energy 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.
The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is one of only 35 organizations in the country to be awarded a grant through the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Neighborhood Program. The mission of the program is to transform the energy efficiency market. What that means for the Energy Alliance is investing in technology, workforce development, and financing solutions to dramatically increase both the supply and demand of the market.
To date, the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance has provided expertise and funding to weatherize 325 Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky homes with such improvements.
“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 said. 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. The Energy Alliance programs are a great deal for home and building owners who take advantage of them, utility customers on the whole, and the economy of the region in general," said the report’s lead author Eric Mackres, who is a senior policy analyst for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
Researchers also projected that energy upgrades provided through Energy Alliance programs would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 250,000 metric tons, nitrogen oxides by 340 metric tons, and sulfur dioxide by 1,640 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.
To view the study: /research-report/e116
The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities reduce their energy costs. The Energy Alliance provides education, expertise, and innovative financing to help the region to become more energy efficient, saving money for residents while also creating local jobs. Visit www.greatercea.org
The University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center, founded in 1977, is a leading provider of economic resources for educators, students, businesses, and public agencies. Visit www.economicscenter.org