Energy efficiency and community resilience: making the connection to keep the lights on and our homes warm

ThermaStar by Pella are energy efficient windows that help increase green home valuations

By David Ribeiro , Research Analyst from ACEEE

Communities face a growing number of stresses that pose risks to their energy systems and economies. These include aging infrastructure in need of costly maintenance upgrades and severe weather events. Energy efficiency is a strategy-albeit not a broadly recognized one-to enhance the resilience of energy systems and the communities they serve. One example is the role that CHP played during Superstorm Sandy to keep the power on at critical facilities, including hospitals and universities, when 8.5 million customers lost power. But efficiency could also be key to community resilience in less obvious ways, including helping communities to weather economic stresses. For example, natural gas customers in Massachusetts are paying more on their bills this winter because insufficient transmission infrastructure in the state is leading to congestion in the transmission system. Natural gas efficiency programs would help natural gas customers avoid paying these high congestion prices and allow them to spend more on other potential needs, further improving community resilience.


Communities that embrace energy efficiency are more “resource resilient.” That is, energy efficiency reduces a community’s natural resources demands, enabling it to instead spend its income on needs that directly benefit the local economy, including other resilience measures. Take energy efficiency improvements in homes. They make communities more resilient in several ways: spending on efficiency creates more economic activity and jobs; buildings have increased economic value, durability, and safety in case of disaster; energy savings from improvements means fewer emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, improving public health; and smaller and less volatile energy bills allows households to spend their money in more beneficial ways…

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