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Everybody knows that the energy sector is critical to combatting climate change. But when you think about what that actually means, what image comes into your head? Renewable energy, right? A solar power plant, a wind farm, an electric car.

What if the most cost-efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions were to simply stop using so much energy to begin with? Could we conserve our way out of climate change?

“Shutting your windows and turning off your lights is certainly part of it but really we’re talking about making each unit of energy go further,” said Lauren Urbanek with the Natural Resource Defense Council.

Urbanek said things like making sure your home is sufficiently insulated or turning off lights when you leave a room can save people money, reduce emissions and stimulate the economy, plus, “It’s really essential to solving our climate crisis as well.”

She said the first step is to have your home evaluated for energy efficiency. NV Energy offers a free assessment.

“In most cases, people think of needing to change out their windows to be more energy efficient, but really it’s adding more insulation in your walls, making sure that the heated or cooled air stays where it is (and) doesn’t escape through cracks or gaps in your walls,” she said.

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Urbanek said she had insulation added to her home and cut her heating bill in half. She admitted there is an upfront cost, but it will eventually pay for itself.

Jennifer Taylor with the Governor's Office of Energy told KNPR's State of Nevada that a program called H.E.R.O.S. helps seniors retrofit their homes to make them energy efficient. 

Taylor said energy efficiency is an important part of the governor's climate change agenda, even though it doesn't contribute as many emissions as power plants and transportation.

“But because there are so many things that individuals can do so easily, it is really kind of a low hanging fruit in terms of our working toward those emission reductions,” she said.

Urbanek noted that when individuals lower demand, power plants don't have to turn to the dirtiest and most expensive sources to keep up. 

“Even if a consumer can save just a little bit of energy, when you add that up - on a large scale - it does make a real difference in terms of how often power plants have to run, and especially when you’re talking about really hot days,” she said.

One of the most important ways energy efficiency is being addressed outside of individual choices is through building codes, which are updated every three years. Urbanek said the latest update was discussed in Las Vegas late last year and will provide the biggest efficiency gains in a decade for both residential and commercial buildings.

She said starting with building codes is a way to get energy efficiency right the first time.

RESOURCES:

Governor's Office of Energy -

Direct Energy Assistance Loan

Renewable Energy Tax Abatements

Home Energy Retrofit Opportunities for Seniors

Revolving Loans for Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Energy Conservation

Natural Resources Defense Council -

Energy Efficiency: The Clean Facts

NV Energy - 

PowerShift Programs

Guests

Jennifer Taylor, Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Relations, Governor's Office of Energy; Lauren Urbanek, Senior Energy Policy Advocate, Climate & Clean Energy Program 

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