We all love the idea of saving energy. Saving energy, saves money! But there are a lot of myths floating around out there, and we are here to crack open the truth about some of those myths that affect Spokane area residents.
Myth #1: Spokane’s power grid can handle new electric-only policies.
FACT: Spokane suffers from power outages during extreme temperatures.
There's already too much demand for the current electric grid—something that those who’ve experienced rolling blackouts during the summer know very well. And demand will only increase as the city grows. Electricity demand in Washington could grow by 13-20% over 2020 levels by 2030. The electric infrastructure needs to be improved before electric-only policies are enforced.
Myth #2: Efforts to increase energy efficiency should focus on new construction.
FACT: Over 50% of homes in Spokane were built prior to 1990. The median age of homes is ~58 years old. These homes are the worst energy efficiency culprits and should be a primary focus of energy efficiency efforts.
During a housing crisis like we have today, housing policies and programs should work to make housing more attainable, not more expensive. Instead of increasing the costs of new homes with strict, electric-only codes, energy efficiency policies and programs should incentivize existing homeowners to make old homes more energy efficient.
Myth #3: The best way to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Spokane is to stop using natural gas in homes.
FACT: Transportation is the highest greenhouse gas emitter, accounting for 46% of all GHG emissions in Spokane. Home use of natural gas makes up much less, at 24%.
Eliminating gas as an optional home/building energy source without reliable infrastructure (see Myth #1) could result in tens of thousands of Spokane residents being stranded without heat during winter months, resulting in property damage from frozen pipes and worse.
Real Energy Efficiency Solutions
A few solutions that can actually reduce GHG emissions and increase energy efficiency include:
Building more homes in Spokane. When people can afford to live in the communities they work in, they commute less, cutting the greatest source of GHG emissions: transportation.
Unless and until Spokane’s electric grid can withstand increased demand, we need to maintain natural gas as an energy option in homes. Eliminating natural gas without reliable infrastructure could leave Spokane residents stranded without power during extreme temperatures.
Efforts to increase energy efficiency in homes should prioritize insulating existing, older homes. Limiting energy choice for new home construction increases the cost of housing, which is the opposite of what Spokane residents need during a housing affordability crisis.
For energy efficiency tips from an expert in the field, check out this post.