Energy efficiency has been all over the news lately, but among all the headlines, this line made us sit up and take notice:
“Energy efficiency investments can have returns so handsome they will rival those of successful criminal enterprises.”
That’s either the worst message our industry could be associated with – or the best. It comes from Vermont energy expert Hilton Dier of Renewable Energy Design, who makes a great case for energy efficiency as a financial planning tool. He explains the fuel savings as tax-free income:
“It doesn't matter whether you earn $100 on an investment or save $100 on your electric bill. In both cases, you are $100 ahead of where you were otherwise. There is one crucial difference: The advantage of saving $100 on your electric or heating bill is that it is tax-free. You're $100 ahead and you don't even have to report it to the IRS.”
And next year you’ll earn that $100 again – probably more, since the price of energy is going up faster than inflation.
We spend a lot of time making the case for energy efficiency based on comfort and safety. After all, air sealing and insulating your home will keep you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Encapsulating your wet basement will improve your indoor air quality and reduce asthma and other respiratory problems. Home performance would be a very good idea even if it never saved you a dime.
But it does. Your return on investment will likely be higher than anything you can get from bonds and safer than anything else you can get. From a financial perspective, home performance would be a very good idea even if it didn’t improve your comfort or your health.
Comfort – check.
Health & Safety – check.
Money Management – check.
Now that’s the headline.