By Anne Huberman, PREP Research and Planning Working Group
In our monthly “PREP Talk” articles, the Peterborough Renewable Energy Planning Team has been telling you about our plans for reaching the goal we all set for ourselves by passing Warrant Article 11 in 2021.
The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) by both the Senate and the House will give us a big boost on our way to 100% renewable energy. Federal funds will be available to make energy improvements much more affordable for individual households. So now is the time when we should all be thinking about the changes we want to make individually and as communities — changes that will save us money, reduce local pollution, and be better for the planet.
Opt out of using Eversource as your energy supplier and choose a supplier of 100% renewable energy (your bill will still come from Eversource) or check out another option, Arcadia. When your town implements Community Power for all residents, participate in that.
If you have a suitable roof and can benefit from the tax credits, home solar is a great investment. If you don’t have a good site for solar panels or if the price is too high for you, advocate for community solar opportunities in your community. When community solar becomes available, signing up for it can save money on your electricity bill with no up-front cost and no termination fee.
Find out how you can improve the comfort of your home and save money by doing an energy audit. See the NH Saves website for more information. For do-it-yourself audit information see the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.
Where accessible, insulate and air-seal the critical areas like your attic and the rim joist around your basement or crawl space.
If you need to replace your roof, add insulation and air sealing under the new (preferably non-fossil based) roofing material, if you cannot add insulation to your attic. When you replace or add siding, add continuous insulation under the siding. Whenever any work is done on an exterior wall of your building, take the opportunity to reduce air leakage and add insulation if possible.
Use efficient LEDs in high-use lighting areas. When buying appliances, look for Energy Star appliances, and compare annual energy usage between models. If you cook with gas, consider replacing your range with an induction cooktop and electric oven. When you need a new refrigerator, be sure it is HFC-free.
Under Peterborough’s Community Power Plan, the town will buy electricity in bulk for its residents and small businesses. The plan's goal is to help ratepayers save money on their electric bills, while also getting more energy from renewable sources. As we get our electricity from more and more renewable sources, it makes sense to convert everything for which we now use fossil fuels to electricity.
When your current vehicle needs to be replaced, plan to purchase an electric vehicle (EV). If new EVs are too expensive for your budget, investigate the purchase of a used EV. If you can’t find an EV that you can afford and that meets your needs, use your old vehicle or purchase a used vehicle with good gas mileage, such as a hybrid, until suitable EVs become available.
To be EV ready, the next time you have electrical work done, ask your electrician to also install an electric vehicle charger or electric vehicle charger-ready circuit outlet near your parking space(s). Of course, walking and biking do not require fossil fuels and make good alternatives to driving. Electric bicycles are great for those who find New Hampshire hills daunting.
As your current heating and cooling systems age, plan for 100% renewable replacements. If you need to install or replace an air conditioning unit or a boiler or a furnace, do so with a cold climate rated air source heat pump or geothermal heat pump. A heat pump can provide both heating and cooling. If heating with wood is your strong preference, then use an EPA rated wood or wood pellet furnace or heater. If you use a fireplace or wood stove more than 10 years old, or a gas fireplace, replace it with an EPA 2020 qualified wood stove or wood pellet stove. If you use wood for heat, store your wood with protection from rain and snow, and obtain wood well in advance so that it has time to dry fully.
When replacing your water heater, choose a heat pump or hybrid water heater, electric on-demand water heater, solar hot water, electric tank water heater, or an auxiliary heater off a wood or wood pellet furnace.
When considering the purchase of fossil fuel powered tools and equipment such as lawnmowers, snowblowers, generators, chainsaws, leaf blowers, etc., research and purchase electric (corded or battery powered) options whenever they are available and meet your needs.
Finally, share what you have learned with friends and neighbors and help them to transition to 100% renewable energy as well.
Anne Huberman is a member of the PREP Research and Planning Working Group and also works with the Peterborough Energy Committee, is the secretary of the Monadnock Citizens’ Climate Lobby Chapter, is on the Peterborough Open Space Committee, and is an alternate on the South Peterborough Tax Increment Finance District.