Tuesday, March 28, 2023

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Nashville mourns six dead in the latest mass shooting, the EPA takes public input on a proposal to clean up Pennsylvania's drinking water, and find ways to get more Zzz's during Sleep Awareness Month.

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A shooting leaves six dead at a school in Nashville, the White House commends Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to pause judicial reform, and mayors question the reach of state and federal authorities over local decisions.

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Finding childcare is a struggle everywhere, prompting North Carolina's Transylvania County to try a new approach. Maine is slowly building-out broadband access, but disagreements remain over whether local versus national companies should get the contracts, and specialty apps like "Farmers Dating" help those in small communities connect online.

Study: Chicago Homes' Energy Upgrades Cut Power Bills – and Pollution

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Wednesday, February 8, 2023   

A new study finds projected energy upgrades on a sampling of homes across the Chicago area produced significant savings in energy costs, as well as major cuts in carbon emissions.

The analysis, by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the nonprofit environmental group Elevate, shows that appliance retrofits and insulation would make older homes affordable for the people who own them.

The study looked at 20 neighborhoods across the metro area that have historically seen less investment. Study co-author Rachel Scheu, principal director of research and innovation with Elevate, said these improvements are possible in all parts of the city.

"We looked at five housing types that represent 93% of Chicago's residential building stock," said Sheau. "We found that those upgrades - deep energy efficiency, and electrification - can achieve 60% energy savings, on average."

She said the report shows that energy upgrades can achieve over $220 million in annual utility bill savings for Chicago families - and keep more than 2.5 million metric tons of carbon out of the atmosphere.

Scheu said they analyzed the effects of minimum, moderate and full levels of appliance retrofits. The resulting energy savings ranged from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000 a year.

She noted that many neighborhoods were built in the 1940s or earlier.

"Chicago has a rich, historic architecture," said Scheu. "Its housing is older and smaller, and more energy-intensive. So, there's a huge potential within the existing housing stock."

One of the suggested improvements in the report is to replace oil or gas heating units with heat exchangers. Scheu said they're much more efficient, and provide both heat - and, more importantly - air conditioning.

"As much as 77% of Chicago buildings don't have central air conditioning," said Scheu. "And that's going to be essential as climate and extreme heat events become more frequent and intense."

Disclosure: Elevate contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environmental Justice, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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