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Clinton Seeks to Warm Up New Hampshire With New Energy Savings Plan

A day after the close Iowa caucuses, she’s rolling out plans to boost efficiency in homes and buildings nationwide.

Hil­lary Clin­ton un­veiled plans Tues­day to save en­ergy in Amer­ic­an homes and build­ings, an ini­ti­at­ive that her cam­paign said would save money for fam­il­ies in New Hamp­shire, where Clin­ton trails Bernie Sanders in most polls ahead of next week’s primary.

The wide-ran­ging pro­pos­al would, ac­cord­ing to Clin­ton’s cam­paign, cut an­nu­al en­ergy costs for homes and busi­nesses na­tion­wide by over $70 bil­lion, sav­ing the av­er­age house­hold about $600 per year.

Many res­id­ents in the north­eastin­clud­ing New Hamp­shirerely on costly heat­ing oil and of­ten pay high­er nat­ur­al gas prices too. Clin­ton’s cam­paign es­tim­ates that the plan would save fam­il­ies in New Hamp­shire $900 an­nu­ally.

The plan sets an over­all goal of cut­ting en­ergy waste in homes, schools, busi­nesses, hos­pit­als, loc­al gov­ern­ment of­fices and oth­er build­ings by a third with­in 10 years.  

The plan in­cludes grants for sev­er­al state- and loc­al-gov­ern­ment en­ergy ef­fi­ciency ini­ti­at­ives aimed at homeown­ers and com­mer­cial build­ings, draw­ing from the “Clean En­ergy Chal­lenge” pro­gram that Clin­ton has pre­vi­ously an­nounced.

One por­tion would provide grants to phase out the use of heat­ing oil and pro­pane boil­ers and fur­naces, and re­place them with clean­er sources, which would also help shield con­sumers from oil price spikes, the plan states.

Oth­er grants would fund state and city ef­forts to: en­hance build­ing codes; help low-in­come house­holds cut en­ergy costs; stream­line per­mit­ting and knock down oth­er bar­ri­ers to wider ad­op­tion of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency tools, such as pro­grams that help con­sumers time their power us­age to peri­ods of lower de­mand and cheap­er costs. That helps pre­vent the need for use of dirti­er power plants dur­ing high de­mand.

An­oth­er por­tion is aimed at provid­ing en­ergy con­sumers in­form­a­tion that helps them con­serve, such as ex­pand­ing the fed­er­al En­ergyS­tar ap­pli­ance la­beling pro­gram. Clin­ton would also “ex­tend” the En­ergy De­part­ment’s ap­pli­ance and equip­ment ef­fi­ciency stand­ards.

Her cam­paign called the ef­fi­ciency plat­form a com­pli­ment to Clin­ton’s earli­er pro­pos­als on ex­pand­ing re­new­able elec­tri­city gen­er­a­tion. “We also need to cut en­ergy con­sump­tion, which will save fam­il­ies and busi­nesses money and re­duce the green­house gas emis­sions that drive cli­mate change,” the new plan states.

One prom­ising av­en­ue, the plan ar­gues, is en­sur­ing that en­ergy ef­fi­ciency is built in­to the home mort­gage mar­ket.

“Res­id­en­tial ef­fi­ciency im­prove­ments, wheth­er in new or ex­ist­ing homes, can sig­ni­fic­antly re­duce a house­hold’s monthly en­ergy bills, yet fed­er­al mort­gage agen­cies do not take this in­to ac­count in de­term­in­ing the value and af­ford­ab­il­ity of home loans they un­der­write. Clin­ton would fix this short­com­ing, and work with com­pan­ies like Zil­low and Trulia to make ex­pec­ted en­ergy cost in­form­a­tion eas­ily avail­able to pro­spect­ive buy­ers,” the plan states. 

Else­where, the plan seeks to cut en­ergy use at loc­al gov­ern­ment build­ings, schools, uni­versit­ies and hos­pit­als via grants for ret­ro­fits and mod­ern­iz­ing, and use of the “na­tion­al in­fra­struc­ture bank” that she has pro­posed (al­though pro­pos­als by Obama and oth­ers for such a bank have not been suc­cess­ful in Con­gress to date).

The an­nounce­ment comes a day after Clin­ton scored a razor-thin vic­tory in the Iowa caucus and ahead of next Tues­day’s primary in New Hamp­shire.

The plan is the latest step in Clin­ton’s phased rol­lout of her en­vir­on­ment­al and en­ergy plat­form.

But Sanders has also em­phas­ized en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and aid with home heat­ing costs in the Sen­ate, where he’s a mem­ber of the En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee, and in his own cam­paign plat­form.

Sanders’ en­ergy and cli­mate plan notes his spon­sor­ship of le­gis­la­tion to help provide loan fin­an­cing for home ef­fi­ciency up­grades, sup­port for ex­ist­ing fed­er­al weather­iz­a­tion as­sist­ance and low-in­come home heat­ing aid pro­grams, and oth­er ef­forts.

Boost­ing ef­fi­ciency is an im­port­ant way to cut en­ergy use and green­house gas emis­sions. And con­ser­va­tion gen­er­ally en­joys more bi­par­tis­an sup­port than Demo­crat­ic ef­forts to re­strict drilling and im­pose EPA car­bon emis­sions man­dates.

Still, Clin­ton would need money from Con­gress for the “Clean En­ergy Chal­lenge” pro­gram that would fund cer­tain pro­vi­sions of the plan, a cam­paign aide said.