Sustainable Putnam

Global Warming & Energy

The burning of fossil fuels is the single biggest cause of global warming and the existential threat of climate crisis. The solutions are clear: we must quickly shift to reliance on non-carbon energy sources if we are to halt and reverse global warming. 

Fortunately, the technology is here. It won’t be easy, but a comprehensive study of New York State’s current energy sources, and what’s available from renewable sources and existing technology demonstrate that it is feasible. Given the alternative, our goal is clear. In order to make the shift to clean renewable energy and away from carbon-spewing fossil fuels, we need to do two things very quickly: increase efficiency, and electrify everything.

Increase Efficiency

Weatherstripping and insulation aren’t very sexy compared to solar panels or wind turbines! But increasing our efficient use of energy is essential for the transition to renewables. 

The fact is that we can’t possibly build and place enough solar panels and wind turbines to meet today’s energy demands. But the reality is that our subsidized fossil fuel energy has made us wasteful. And we can do so much more with much less energy if we just use what’s available more efficiently.

And that’s often easy to accomplish, “low tech”, and inexpensive. Energy efficiency has a faster “payback” than solar or wind. That means that every dollar you invest will be returned faster, again and again in lower energy bills. And the savings will continue for years to come. Many efficiency projects can be completed by homeowners. Those that require a contractor help to build our local economy by providing good jobs and keeping money in our communities, rather than going to a big corporation.

Improving energy efficiency is the most sustainable action we can take in the energy sector: it reduces our carbon and ecological footprint, saves money, and improves our health with cleaner air.

Actions:

  • Residents, Businesses, and Governments: Install LED bulbs throughout your home and facilities. Most of these bulbs will save you money within a year of purchase, and continue to save for years to come. Your house will be cooler too, decreasing the need for air conditioning. Learn more at Energy Star Lighting.
  • Homeowners: Do it yourself! Take the first step to save money and energy such as adjusting your thermostat, install programmable thermostats that automatically move to lower temperature settings while you’re out of the house, sealing air leaks, and installing insulation.
  • Homeowners: Sign up for a free home energy audit to learn where your home is wasting energy and money, and what savings can be gained. Most New York State residents can get free (or low cost) home energy audits through NYS incentive programs. Own your own or manage a business? An energy audit can lead to cost savings that improve your bottom line.
  • Homeowners, Businesses: Purchase the most energy efficient appliance you can afford. It will pay off over the life of the appliance. Did you know that the highest cost of a refrigerator is the energy it uses over its lifetime? Paying extra for the purchase will save more money through a lower electric bill. Learn more at Energy Star Appliances.
  • Consider adding a home Solar electric (Photovoltaic or PV) system to your home.  Solar electric systems produce lower cost electricity than what you buy from your utility. If you produce more than you can use at any given moment, the utility buys your electricity as it flows into the grid! You can save a significant amount of money over the life of the system.  If you are thinking about a generator for energy backup, you might want to pair your PV system with a battery backup system to further reduce your carbon footprint.  Go to NYSERDA for accurate information about solar and many other energy saving options.
  • Villages, Towns, and County governments can choose to implement Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). A CCA pools together the electricity customers in a locality and bargains on their behalf to buy clean renewable electricity for the same or less than they’re currently paying. Save money, eliminate carbon, and clean our air. Residents are free to opt out if they prefer their current Electric Supply Company (ESCO).

Electrify Everything

To take advantage of renewable, non-carbon energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal, we need to electrify our energy uses. For example, we must shift our transportation vehicles from gasoline and diesel fuels to clean electric vehicles. We must switch our home heating furnaces from oil, natural gas, and propane to clean, low-energy, ground or air source heat pumps. Doing so will eliminate the fossil fuel emissions we create in our own neighborhoods, thereby protecting the health of our family, friends and neighbors.

Switching to clean electric power will also save money and reduce carbon emissions and air pollution here in Putnam County — and everywhere along the path of extraction, refining, and transport of dirty, global warming fossil fuels. New York State’s relatively clean electricity mix is generated from renewables, nuclear, and natural gas. As New York State increases the proportion of renewables to 100% over the next 20 years, we will eliminate a major source of our contribution to global warming, further improve our health, and save even more money.

Actions:

  • Converting to efficient electrical home appliances and yard tools from fossil fueled appliances reduces your household’s carbon footprint, avoids air pollutants that hurt your health, and saves money. Ovens, ranges, clothes dryers, water heaters, lawn mowers, leaf blowers — all of these and more can be more efficiently powered with clean, renewable, non-carbon energy sources. Learn more at Energy Star Appliances.
  • Heat and cool your home with geothermal energy. Ground source or air source heat pumps are very efficient forms of space heating, and modern heat pumps also act as air conditioners. Both Central Hudson and Gas and NYSEG utilities offer rebates for these and other energy improvements. See Putnam Clean Heating & Cooling for more information.

Make your next car a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or fully electric vehicle. You’ll spend less on transportation over the vehicle’s life, breathe cleaner air, reduce your carbon footprint, and spend virtually no time at gas stations and repair shops. Learn more on our Transportation page or at Drive Electric Hudson Valley