Businesses, towns and residential customers combined to save well over $50 million last year in energy costs, thanks to state incentives that a report issued Tuesday said are helping Connecticut take a significant step forward in providing a healthier environment.

The Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board’s annual report to the General Assembly on initiatives to improve statewide energy efficiency showed residential customers of Connecticut Light & Power Co., United Illuminating, Yankee Gas and other utilities saving $27.9 million overall. Businesses and municipalities saved $25.9 million, the report said.

This compared with savings of nearly $72 million seen in 2011, according to a previous report.

At the same time, according to the 2012 report, carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by more than 200,500 tons last year.

“We saw a tremendous growth in the participation in our energy efficiency programs, which means more money saved by our residents and businesses and a healthier environment for Connecticut,” said Daniel Esty, commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, in a statement.

Groton, New London and Norwich each received more than $1 million in funding to promote energy efficiency, according to the report. Among local towns, Montville, East Lyme, Old Saybrook and Waterford each received more than $500,000 from the energy programs.

Seconn, a fabrications and powdercoating company in Waterford, was one of the local firms taking advantage of the program last year, installing energy-efficient lighting and motors. It also has taken advantage of training programs and energy-saving construction incentives.

Luigi’s Restaurant in Old Saybrook is another business that took advantage of free financing to install high-performance lighting, lighting controls and energy-efficient coolers and freezers.

Esty, also chairman of the Energy Efficiency Board, said incentives for residential, business and municipal customers to install energy-saving devices and build environmentally friendly structures came out of the state’s comprehensive energy strategy outlined by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy last year and finalized just last month.

The report said more than 500,000 state residential customers participated in energy-saving programs last year. Energy audits, rebates and incentives to improve new-home construction were among the state’s programs that homeowners and renters utilized.

Meanwhile, more than 4,500 businesses and municipalities saved money through energy audits, product rebates, incentives and helpful financing to fund new equipment or to encourage green building.

Programs have been streamlined through the new Energize Connecticut brand, which combined services of the Energy Efficiency Fund and Clean Energy Finance & Investment Authority. The efforts have borne fruit, as Connecticut was ranked No. 6 in the nation last year for its energy-efficiency by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, according to the report.

The region is involved in one of the nation’s first experiments in bringing green construction expertise to high school students. Next month, the Ella T. Grasso Regional Vocational School in Groton is expected to unveil one of these so-called E-Houses, a project that will prepare students for a green-building career after graduation.

At the close of the year, 31 Connecticut towns and cities had signed on to the Clean Energy Communities program, which asks municipalities to pledge a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption by 2018.