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How Much Carbon Pollution Can Home Efficiency Prevent? Case Study Shows Clear Results

Every bit of carbon pollution we can eliminate is helpful in the grand scheme of things, but how much of an impact can a small startup working in a small sector of the energy industry actually make? When compared to the conversion of a 1000-strong fleet of vehicles to electric or the development of a utility scale geothermal plant, it is hard to imagine the pollution of one house even registering.

However, I’m a firm believer of three things:

  1. Do what you can within your sphere of influence — every bit helps, and builds momentum through social networks. Friends and family learn good habits and do positive things when they see each other doing them as well. I’m not someone who could have started a geothermal plant. It’s not in my sphere of influence. But starting a home energy efficiency company was absolutely in my sphere of influence.
  2. You have to meet people where they are — everyone is on a sustainability journey. Some of us just beginning, others farther along. But if you put the goalposts too far away, people simply won’t do anything. So starting people off with good win-win situations is key to moving them further along their sustainability journey. It’s not unlike getting into a routine of exercising — you gotta start with what you can do, and get the positive reinforcement from it in order to go bigger.
  3. If we don’t solve (and largely prevent) climate change, nothing else matters.

7 years ago, I started a home efficiency company, and I started by replacing peoples’ inefficient old-school lights with horrible CFLs and putting in low flow water fixtures. It was not popular, but thank goodness, the tech got so much better so fast — now we have gorgeous, fully dimmable, and inexpensive LEDs, and high pressure, high efficiency water fixtures, plus good thermal imaging capabilities, solid data on which to recommend a prioritized list of appliance upgrades, and so much more. And now, I’m happy to humble brag, we have greened more than 13,500 homes, with no end in sight. Every day, we go to work and eliminate carbon emissions, save people money, and are able to pay our team a living wage.

So How Much Have We Saved?

Our team tallied up the data from across the years and found that we’re making good things happen.

Money: First and foremost, we serve a niche market that few others can. While we do single family homes with families who don’t live paycheck to paycheck, we actually serve just as many apartments, condos, renters, and ALICE communities. And for many in that space, the dollars have a significant impact on their quality of life.

Total annual money we’re saving our customers: $6,300,000

Water: Because of the energy-water nexus, and the fact that moving water around consumes a lot of electricity, water savings at the tap are helpful not just to conserve water but also to reduce climate emissions. Plus, any savings of hot water is a direct energy saver too. Keep in mind, of course, that our direct use of water is not the most important water impact we have: one pound of beef uses more water than showering for 12 hours or shaving 2 minutes off your shower every day for an entire year, so it is relative. But we’ve made an impact here as well.

Total water we’re saving every year: 356,000,000 gallons 

Carbon pollution: Measuring a carbon footprint is difficult. At our company, we only measure our direct impacts — fixtures like LEDs and high efficiency faucets and shower heads, for example — rather than our indirect impacts, like educating people about how to set their thermostats or consulting them on upgrading an old water heater. Our direct impacts are something I am very proud of:

Total carbon pollution eliminated per year: 17,700,000 pounds of CO2 equivalents 

Damn, it feels good to be a clean tech gangster.

 
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Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is a serial eco-entrepreneur focused on making the world a better place for all its residents. Scott is the founder of CleanTechnica and was just smart enough to hire someone smarter than him to run it. He then started Pono Home, a service that greens homes, which has performed efficiency retrofits on more than 16,000 homes and small businesses, reducing carbon pollution by more than 27 million pounds a year and saving customers more than $6.3 million a year on their utilities. In a previous life, Scott was an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill) , and Green Living Ideas.

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