The recent brutal cold spell will be recognized by most people more in the cost of heating bills than as part the bigger disruption of weather patterns caused by climate change. Homes and other existing structures are a significant source of energy use and studies show responsible for more than 45 percent of green house gases contributing to climate change.
While there are existing federal and state incentives for energy conservation retrofits, these incentives are often unavailable for use because homeowners and small businesses often lack the capital and ability to use the offered tax incentive. Identifying knowledgeable contractors willing to retrofit older homes can also be an impediment.
A federal or state energy conservation incentive program aimed at contractors that gives them the ability to cost share materials, labor would make the upgrades for home or small business owners more affordable. A contractor would be in the position to take tax breaks or refunds in return for the cut in cost to the homeowner/small business. Such a fund would encourage a specialized hot market for energy retrofit. An energy conservation incentive program could require a license that would put the contractor on a special list of qualified businesses available to retrofit their specialty of storm windows, insulation, efficient heating etc. and as a check on inappropriate use of incentives or unscrupulous work.
Climate change is not going away and it will take every effort to cut our carbon footprint now to slow the change. We need creative incentives and to market them to encourage energy conservation in homes and businesses.
Ruth Cutler lives in Ashford.
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