Save energy, freeze a Yankee | Arkansas Blog

Save energy, freeze a Yankee

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The old bumper sticker comes to mind on this news in NYT today:

CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. — The federal government is spending $5 billion in stimulus money to weatherize homes across the country. That is almost as much as it has spent on weatherization since the program was created in the 1970s to cut heating bills and conserve oil for low-income people.

But this year, there is a twist.

An unusually large share of the money will be spent not on keeping cold air out but on keeping cold air in. As a result of a political compromise with Sun Belt lawmakers last decade, the enormous expansion of the weatherization program will invoke a rarely used formula that will devote 31 percent of the money, nearly double the old share of 16 percent, to help states in hot climates, like Florida, save on air-conditioning.

Many environmentalists say cutting electricity use for cooling is just as worthwhile as reducing the use of oil or gas for heating. But there are substantial questions about whether it is the most efficient way to save energy.

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