If you have gone shopping for a new appliance in recent years, you have probably seen the Energy Star Label. This label makes it easier for consumers to find more efficient appliances.
What is ENERGY STAR?
ENERGY STAR is a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency helping us save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, ENERGY STAR has nearly 20,000 partners committed to improving the energy efficiency of products, homes, buildings and businesses, and the ENERGY STAR label can be found on more than 65 product categories. In 2011 alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 41 million cars — all while saving $23 billion on their utility bills.
Making energy-efficient choices at home can save families about a third on their energy bills without sacrificing features, style or comfort.
To celebrate its anniversary, the EPA has launched a new program this week called Team Energy Star in conjunction with the Lorax. At first glance, this does seem to be yet another product tie in for the Lorax movie, but if the activities can educate and empower families to save energy, then I am all for it. I am annoyed by the Lorax movie, which I have not seen, and am trying not to let it jade my perception of this new EPA program. If such an image gets families involved and reduces American energy consumption, then I can put my petty annoyances aside.
Even though my family lives off the grid and has a small carbon footprint, I signed the Team Energy Star pledge to see if there were any new ideas of how we could reduce our climate changing impact even more. Sadly, I did not find any new things, but there were a lot of great activities for families that may not be as energy conscious. Things like taking shorter showers or turning off completely your TV are not new ideas but effective if implemented by the masses.
Americans use a lot of energy. We need to change that!
Why is saving energy important?
About 70 percent of the electricity we use comes from power plants burning fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels causes greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change – a real and urgent challenge affecting people and the environment, worldwide. Using energy-efficient products and practices reduces the amount of carbon pollution added to the atmosphere and can lessen the effects of climate change.
How can climate change impact our health?
The Earth’s climate is changing in ways that can have serious consequences for public health. Climate change will likely increase the number of people suffering from illness and injury due to more pollution, extreme heat, floods, storms, droughts and fires as well as allergies and infectious disease. The elderly, the very young, the disabled, and the poor alone are especially vulnerable, as are people with heart disease or asthma. Climate change is also expected to cause more severe allergy symptoms because a warmer climate promotes the growth of molds, weeds, grasses and trees that cause allergic reactions.
What’s the impact of ENERGY STAR?
Over the past 20 years, Americans with help from ENERGY STAR have saved nearly $230 billion on utility bills, preventing more than 1.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
- The average house is responsible for more than 25,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, about twice as much as the average car.
- Electricity demand for U.S. homes is expected to climb by as much as 18 percent by 2035.
- The typical household spends more than $2,100 per year on energy bills. With ENERGY STAR, you can save over one-third, or more than $700 on your household energy bills.
- If every American household took the actions found in the Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR Pledge, we would save more than126 billion KWh/year of electricity and save $18 billion in annual energy costs. We would prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 20 million cars.
Clearly, more Americans need to take these simple steps and join Team Energy Star! I’d also like to see the EPA make the Energy Star guidelines even stricter for appliance efficiency.
When we shop for a new appliance, the store employees are always confused when we start peering behind appliances looking for the UL listing that actually tells how much power (amps and watts) an appliance uses. The store clerks point to the Energy Star label, as if this is enough, and rarely can answer our specific questions. When you live off the grid, Energy Star is not enough. Every watt or amp counts!