MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -Tighter homes, tuned-up furnaces and other steps could save Vermonters nearly $500 million on heating costs in the next decade, cutting greenhouse gas emissions at the same time, a new state study says.

The new Department of Public Service report, completed at the Legislature’s request, could lead to calls for a new state program designed to pursue heating efficiency in the way that the statewide efficiency utility Efficiency Vermont does now with electricity.

The study, performed by a consultant hired by the DPS, found that the state would have to invest about $149 million within the next 10 years.

to achieve about $486 million in savings on heating oil, propane, kerosene and other fuels.

The effort would “not only reduce the consumption of fuels it reduces the generation of carbon emissions, which has caught a lot of attention over the last couple months,” said Steve Wark, a spokesman for the department.

The DPS consultant didn’t say how the $149 million in efficiency investments would be paid for, and Wark said it was “too soon for the department to make any kinds of recommendations,” Wark said.

Lawmakers said they would look for ways to move ahead on the issue.

“I think this study is a wake-up call. There are opportunities to have significant savings in money and in how much greenhouse gas we emit as a state through greater efficiency in all the fuels we use to heat our homes,” said Rep. Robert Dostis, D-Waterbury, chairman of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

The study found that the greatest savings could be achieved by reducing heating oil and firewood consumption, which it said could be reduced 14 percent.

Information from: The Times Argus,

AP-ES-01-23-07 1814EST