How Santa Is Helping to Reduce Carbon Emissions
If you’ve been a Connecticuter for a decade or longer, maybe you remember the 2001 conference between the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian premiers (NEG-ECP). During the milestone meeting, our regions developed a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The conclusion of the conferences outlined short, mid and long-term goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
- To 1990 levels by 2010
- By 10% below 1990 levels by 2020
- To at least 35% – 45% below 1990 levels by 2030
- By 75% to 85% below 2001 levels by 2050
In 2008, Connecticut doubled down on the agreement by passing “An Act Concerning Connecticut Global Warming Solutions” that requires the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 2001 levels by 2050.
With these lofty goals defined, we’re collectively wondering, what’s the best way to get there? According to scientists and politicians, it’s not through natural gas, as utility companies once had hoped.
The Trouble with Natural Gas
In 2013, The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection — maybe too impulsively — stated that natural gas was the future of sustainable energy.
The department even approved a seven-year plan for expanding natural gas across Connecticut to provide nearly 300,000 Connecticut homes access. Fast forward to today and their initiative has only achieved an expansion of around 60,000 homes, with only three years left to reach their goal.
So, why this abject failure?
- Cost: Natural gas is expensive. It can cost anywhere from $10,000-$20,000 to outfit your home for natural gas, making conversion difficult for the average homeowner.
- Cleanliness: Natural gas is dirty, and a greenhouse gas emitter. The largest component of natural gas, methane (87%), is 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping and holding heat.
- Consumption: Natural gas is non-renewable. Although we currently have extensive resources available, there is no promise of finding new reserves in the future.
Not only is Connecticut pulling away from natural gas dependency, other states, and cities around the country are banning natural gas in new buildings.
What are the alternatives for our community?
As we move away from natural gas in our community, what options do Connecticuters have to keep their home energized while keeping the environment in mind?
Not only is heating oil the most common source of fuel in the Northeast, but it’s also one of the cleanest.
In 2014, legislation to clean up heating oil brought sulfur content in the fuel from 3000 parts per million (ppm) to 500 ppm. And, just last summer that level was reduced again to under 15 ppm, making new, ultra-low sulfur heating oil one of the cleanest fuels available.
Reducing sulfur in heating oil makes cleaner fuel, and it prolongs the life of appliances like boilers and furnaces because it eliminates soot and scaling. By removing soot and scaling, homeowners can also enjoy increased heating efficiency, as more heat can pass through the chimney and into the home.
Biofuel is a renewable fuel that comes from a variety of plants like soy and canola, animal fats, and recycled cooking oil.
Santa Energy uses a biofuel blend to make our ultra-low sulfur heating oil even cleaner. Our ultimate goal is to get to a 50% blend of biofuel and heating oil, which is considered carbon-neutral. Carbon-neutral fuel means it won’t net release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
With a non-biofuel blend, ultra-low sulfur heating oil reduces the emissions of:
- Sulfur dioxide by 97%
- Particulate matter by 80%
- Nitrous oxide by 10%
- Carbon dioxide by 2%
When you include our biodiesel blend, you can add 5-10 points to each of those numbers.
While electricity is an alternative to natural gas, homeowners must jump through hoops to make it a comprehensive heating and cooling source.
Specifically, homeowners need to install heat pumps. This attachment uses electricity to move heat from a cool space to a warm space, making the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer.
Unfortunately, there are two major drawbacks to heat pumps, especially for residents in the Northeast:
- Heat pumps do not function effectively in extreme cold or heat. A backup system run by either gas or heating oil is often needed for the coldest winter months or the hottest summer days.
- Our region has some of the highest electrical rates in the country, which makes powering heat pumps via electricity more costly for homeowners than heating oil.
To rely on electricity entirely, a homeowner would need to pay for — and maintain — two different heating systems in their home, which is both a hassle and cost-intensive.
Santa Energy prides itself on offering clean, cost-effective fuel to help care for both our community and the environment. We continually explore new technology and processes to improve the environmental impact of our operations. After all, we live, work and play here, too.