If you improve your home’s energy efficiency by adding insulation or installing a new heating system, it can lower your bills and make your home more comfortable. These changes can also help reduce stress on the electric grid at times of peak energy use.

Natalie Mims Frick of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory analyzed energy-efficiency programs offered by publicly-owned utilities in nine states.

These programs include incentives like rebates for LED lights, efficient heating and cooling systems, or home insulation.

“We found that energy efficiency appears to be a really low-cost way to reduce demand,” Frick says. “We had residential, commercial, industrial, and low-income programs that all produced peak demand savings.”

Peak demand is when electricity use and strain on the grid is highest. Reducing demand helps utilities avoid the need to use highly polluting backup power plants.

And it helps them add more wind and solar. These power sources are more variable and not reliable enough to meet sudden surges in demand, so reducing peak power use helps utilities transition to renewables.

Frick says most consumers improve efficiency to save money and make their homes more comfortable, not to support the grid. But she says those are still “great benefits to think about as you make yourself more comfortable.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.