Climate change poses profound risks to our communities not just in the future but right now. Extreme weather events are increasing, and our climate is changing. We must do what we can to transition as quickly as possible to more renewable energy and reducing our carbon emissions.
Minnesota is leading the country in our efforts, but we must also be realistic as to how we achieve clean energy without jeopardizing cost and reliability. In 2007, Minnesota Republicans and DFLers joined together on the Next Generation Energy Act and adopted a goal to hit the 80 percent reduction by 2050.
It’s great that Minnesota has already hit its renewable electricity standard goal of 25 percent by 2025 this year by using wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower. We’re also on course to reach its current solar electricity standard of 1.5 percent by the end of 2020.
I believe we could reach the 80 percent goal by making additional investments in clean energy sources like wind and solar and by transitioning more machines to electric power instead of fossil fuels, including cars and trucks. Battery storage and better connections to the wider grid will allow Minnesota to have reliable electricity, even when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.
You can help create a clean energy future too. Below are some tips we can all do at home:
Make your house more air tight. Even in reasonably tight homes, air leaks may account for 15 to 25 percent of the heat our furnaces generate in winter or that our homes gain in summer. If you pay $1,100 a year to heat and cool your home, you might be wasting as much as $275 annually.
Buy and use a programmable thermostat for a 15 percent reduction in your heating and cooling emissions and save $180 a year. During the summer, a setting of 78 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal during the hours you are at home, and 85 degrees when you are away during the day.
Use power strips in your home office and home entertainment center to curb “phantom loads” and save a surprising amount on your electric bill. Keeping your laser printer turned on when not in use could be costing you as much as $130 annually.
Get an electricity monitor from your local hardware store or even borrow one from many local libraries to see where the energy hogs are in your home. This can help you save hundreds of dollars annually.
Change those light bulbs. New LED light bulbs can give the same light for 15 percent less electricity. That adds up to more than $100 in savings for most families each year.
Wash clothes in cold water. They get just as clean with today’s detergents. But hot water washes use five times the energy—and create five times the emissions. This could save you nearly $100 a year.
We are in this together. Legislators are reviewing ways we can help reduce our carbon footprint, but all of us can do our part in reducing our energy use by making our homes more efficient.
To contact me with your ideas and feedback, you can reach me by phone at 651-296-4154 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also mail letters or pay me a visit in the Minnesota Senate Building, Room 2231, right across the street from the Capitol.