Energy Efficiency FAQs

Why is it important to be energy efficient?

The overwhelming challenge to our world today is climate change. The leading cause of climate change by far is humanity’s burning of fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal). Most of our electric power comes from a grid that depends on natural gas with smaller but significant portions using coal, oil, nuclear, and renewable sources (wind, solar, hydro). Green Newton believes that a two-pronged attack is necessary—to use less energy through increased efficiency and conservation; and to increase the use of renewable energy in place of fossil fuels.

What does Green Decade do about energy?

Green Newton supports closing coal-fired generating plants, phasing out nuclear plants (Pilgrim and Seabrook) and increasing the use of renewable sources, especially wind, solar, and hydro power projects. We support efforts to re-align power generation in the New England to renewable sources. We also encourage efficiency and conservation in our homes, businesses, and city facilities. [I like putting efficiency and generation in the same bucket because is we use less we need to generate less, ie efficiency/conservation as a resource]

Where does the City use energy?

A significant portion of the energy used within city borders is municipal – schools, city buildings, and streetlights.

Is the City working to reduce its energy consumption?

Yes. The City is retrofitting existing buildings with more efficient systems, designing new schools to be more energy efficient, and changing to LED streetlights. Green Newton has helped with those efforts and we are also a partner in Energy Smart Newton, the City program that encourages homeowners to save energy, and with the Newton Solar Challenge program to encourage rooftop solar energy generation.

What can Newton residents do to reduce our carbon footprint?

Two things: reduce our energy consumption and, where possible, invest in renewable energy for our homes. See Dept of Energy Energy Saver Guide .

How can I travel with less impact?

Transportation accounts for a third of the energy used in Newton. Green Newton works with the City to create bicycle lanes and improve pedestrian walkways. And we strongly encourage Newton residents to walk, bike, and take advantage of MBTA public transit (Green Line, Commuter Rail, bus, and express bus) as an alternative to driving.

How important is energy efficient home heating and cooling?

Our homes account for a large portion of the energy used within Newton’s borders. As part of the Energy Smart Newton program, Green Newton teams with Next Step Living to promote free home energy assessments. These assessments open the door to investments in energy saving improvements that are offered at reduced cost under the state’s Mass Save program.

Can I get help with reducing home energy?

Yes. The first step is to get a home energy assessment that will identify things that you can do to reduce your energy use and also get you started with free LED and compact fluorescent light bulbs, a programmable thermostat, and weatherstripping.

Your assessment form also qualifies you to receive zero-interest financing of improvements such as home weatherization from Mass Save, the state program that you’ve already paid for through the renewable energy and energy efficiency charges on your NStar bill. Energy efficiency investments–such as insulation, energy efficient windows, energy efficient furnaces/boilers and water heaters–are among the highest returns you can get. They will also make you feel warmer in your home in winter.

What about renewable energy sources?

You can switch from NStar’s standard suppliers of electric power (which includes 7% of renewable energy sources) to alternative suppliers that provide electric power from wind, solar, hydro, and biomass. These choices include Mass Energy, a non-profit that provides a 100 percent supply from local wind and tax deductions for the increment in your energy cost.

What else can I do?

Many things. You can conserve hot water. You can recycle and reduce your solid waste. You can divest your savings from investments in fossil fuel companies. And you can learn about, and advocate for, energy conservation at the local, state, and national level.