OH, WHY BOTHER?
Life can be overwhelming with all the “shoulds” -- things we’re supposed to do like eating the right foods, flossing, creating a balanced “work-school-home-play” life, and doing something about major issues facing the world and our community.
Sometimes it seems like too much. So why bother with one more thing? Because one thing -- energy efficiency -- creates three positive benefits at once for you and the planet:
- cuts your home utility bills so you have extra money to spend on other things.
- increases your comfort.
- reduces pollution.
And, it’s easy. When you choose energy-efficient technologies and products for your home, you can relax while they continue producing these benefits for you day after day, year after year.
Energy used to heat your home and power your TV is not too different from the energy your body gets when you eat a bean burrito. Your body is like a powerhouse, turning food (fuel) into usable energy -- the ability to do work -- and eliminating waste byproducts.
A power plant does the same thing: Coal, oil, or natural gas (nonrenewable fossil fuels) goes in and gets burned up to power a big generator that sends energy to your house, with carbon dioxide, some noxious gases, and/or sludge as byproducts. Fossil fuels (from fossils, or remains, of dead animals and plants) take millions of years to make. The volume of byproducts created when we burn fossil fuels are not easily reprocessed in our environment and cause pollution and related health problems.
Energy production and use account for nearly 80 percent of air pollution, more than 88 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and more environmental damage than any other human activity.
Energy Efficiency vs. Energy Conservation
Energy efficiency is a far cry from old energy conservation images. It’s not turning down the thermostat and sacrificing comfort. Energy efficiency means getting the most from every energy unit by using state-of-the-art technologies to provide daily needs -- comfortable homes, profitable businesses, convenient transportation. It is the quickest, cheapest, cleanest way to reduce energy use and pollution.
If your house were energy efficient, you could lower your thermostat and be comfortable day and night, without drafts, cold spots, or guilt while doing your share for your family, your finances, and your environment.
4 for the Planet
If you replaced just four 100-watt incandescent bulbs that burn four or more hours a day in your home with four 23-watt fluorescent bulbs, you’d get as much light and save at least 1,356 kilowatt-hours of electricity and $108 over three years. If all our nation’s households did the same, we’d save as much energy as is consumed by some seven million cars in one year.
Join our “treasure hunt” to discover ways to save home energy and money. Gain the Power$mart™ edge -- the knowledge and power to make energy-efficient choices. The brochure’s Power$mart Tips highlight efficient technologies and approaches, while its Energy Consciousness Tips provide the best energy-saving conservation behaviors. Together, they produce maximum results.
IT STARTS AT HOME
Ssurprising fact: The average home produces twice as much greenhouse gas pollution as the average car! Due to emissions produced by power plants that generate the electricity used to run modern homes -- plus home emissions from such things as oil or gas-fired furnaces -- an average house releases 22,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, almost twice as much as a typical car’s 11,500 pounds of CO2 emmissions, estimates the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The United States currently emits 45,000 pounds of CO2 annually per person. Most scientists believe CO2 is contributing to global climate change. Households used one-fifth of the energy consumed in the United States. About three-fifths of the energy Americans use at home is from electricity. The remainder comes from natural gas and oil.
Unfortunately, we don’t even benefit from a lot of the energy we use. Energy dollars pour out of homes through drafty doors and windows and uninsulated attics, walls, floors, and basements. Even some idle (turned off) appliances use energy 24 hours a day!
Overall Power$mart Tip
Look for home and office products that have earned the Energy Star®. These products have met energy efficiency guidelines set by EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The Energy Star can be found in appliances, heating and cooling equipment, consumer electronics, home office equipment, lighting fixtures and bulbs, and new homes.
Households that replace existing equipment with Energy Star qualified products can cut annual energy bills by 30 percent or some $400.
Why Become Power$mart?
Available technology can plug major energy leaks. The average household in the U.S. spends about $1,300 each year on home energy, according to DOE. What if you could save up to a third of that using the tips in this booklet? You could go away for a fabulous long weekend, see 40 movies with a friend, save for college, or buy the latest video games, attire, and those cool shoes.
Why Develop Energy Consciousness?
The energy use of two families living in two homes that are EXACTLY alike can vary by 100 percent -- which means that how you use what’s in your home can double (or halve) your energy bills
IS YOUR HOME LEAKING ENERGY DOLLARS?
Perhaps your home wasn’t built using today’s high-quality, energy-efficient products or techniques. Perhaps previous occupants never took take care of problems -- and your heating and cooling bills are higher than you’d like. Where might energy be flowing from your home?
It might be going out the window -- literally. Some homes have enough leaks around its windows and doors to equal one open three foot by three foot window! Check your home’s first line of defense against the elements -- the roof, walls, floors, windows, and doors. It pays to deal with air leaks first to get the maximum savings from your heating and cooling systems and other energy-efficiency measures.
Appropriate insulation for your climate (based on R-ratings) can increase your comfort and reduce your heating and cooling costs up to 30 percent. Start with attic insulation, followed by exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces.
If you’re shopping for new windows, glass doors, or skylights, look for the Energy Star. Today’s high-efficiency windows are 40 percent more energy efficient than standard, less efficient ones and can improve heating and cooling energy savings by some 15 percent. Special low-e (emissivity) coatings greatly reduce the amount of heat that flows through glass so there isn’t as much heat lost in winter or gained in summer. www.efficientwindows.org
Energy Consciousness Tips
Find and plug those leaks. Just wet your fingertips and run them around the door or window frame to feel a draft -- or hold up a tissue and see if it waves. Seal leaks between moving parts (between door and its frame) with weatherstripping. Fill leaks between non-moving parts (between window frame and wall) with caulking.
Install storm windows or double-paned windows if you only have single-pane windows. If you have older or leaky windows that you can’t replace, consider temporary fixes, such as plastic films kits that create the effect of an interior storm window, or low-e retrofit film.
It’s A Fact
Double-pane windows with low-e coating can reduce heating bills by 34 percent in cold climates compared to uncoated, single-pane windows. In hot climates, spectrally selective low-e windows can cut cooling costs by 38 percent.
KEEPING YOUR C-O-O-O-L
Your thermostat controls the heating and cooling system that consumes more than half of the energy in your home -- the biggest chunk of your family’s energy budget. How much of that energy is used to keep your house comfortable when no one is home or everyone is asleep? Probably a lot, if you don’t adjust the thermostat when you leave the house or go to bed.
Introducing the programmable thermostat! It automatically coordinates the temperature of your home with your daily and weekly (weekend) patterns -- so you don’t have to awaken to a chilly bedroom in winter or come home to a stuffy house in summer. Once you make the settings, you don’t have to adjust the thermostat again.
When adding a programmable thermostat or replacing a furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump, look for the Energy Star. You can get additional information from the yellow EnergyGuide label to compare every model in a category, its capacity, and estimated yearly energy cost.
Energy Star qualified geothermal heat pumps use the constant temperature of the earth to efficiently transfer heat to the home in winter or cool air to the home in summer. They require adequate land and up front expenditure.
Energy Consciousness Tips
When adjusting the thermostat by hand, remember that the house will not warm up or cool down any faster if you crank up the thermostat past the desired temperature. Besides, it is easy to forget to turn it back down, which will waste energy dollars.
If you have a heat pump, dramatically turning up the heat by hand is costly because it may trigger the inefficient backup heater, which is most often electric, eating up any savings from reducing the thermostat. (A programmable thermostat designed for heat pumps will gradually raise the heat without activating the backup heat.)
Clean or replace furnace and air conditioner filters once a month during heating/cooling season.
It’s A Fact
Rule of thumb for thermostat savings: For each degree you lower your thermostat in winter, you can save about 3 percent on your heating bill.
An Energy Star qualified furnace and air conditioning system, when properly sized and installed, can save consumers 30-40 percent on heating and cooling bills.
LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE
From 10 to 15 percent, or $90 per year, of the average home’s electricity costs can be controlled with the flip of a switch -- a light switch. You don’t want to live in the dark, so how can you light the house more efficiently?
A good solution: Compact fluorescent bolbs (CFLs) use up to 75 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer that incandescent bulbs. CFLs have improved tremendously since first introduced. The have become smaller, cheaper, brighter, and offer improved color quality.
Power$mart Tips Replace all light fixtures and bulbs that operate four or more hours a day with ones that use fluorescent bulbs to save money and energy. Use lumens -- the amount of light produced -- to compare lights. For example, a 23-watt fluorescent bulb produces about the same number of lumens as a 100-watt incandescent. Your investment will generally pay for itself in a couple of years.
Here’s a simple comparison for two types of bulbs giving off the same amount of light and burning for four hours per day for three years (4,380 hours). You’ll go through six incandescent bulbs during this period, while the compact fluorescent will still have another 3.8 years of life left.
You need to eat, right? The kitchen uses a big chunk of your home energy budget. Your refrigerator alone -- which is on 24 hours a day -- accounts for about 15 percent of the total home electricity bill, or about 10 percent of the average home energy bill. So where can you apply energy efficiency in the kitchen?
Shopping for a major appliance before it breaks down gives you the best chance to find a higher efficiency model with the features you want. The typical refrigerator sold in 2002 has more features yet uses about half the electricity of a comparable model sold in 1980. Choose appliances with the Energy Star to ensure greatest efficiency.
Energy Conscious Tips
Buy a new fridge that is the right size for your needs to avoid wasting energy cooling nothing.
Use a microwave or toaster oven to cook small portions and a conventional oven or stove-top for larger items.
A watched pot will eventually boil -- but putting a lid on it reduces cooking time and energy use. Also, match the pot size to burner size to avoid energy waste.
It’s A Fact
Refrigerators in the U.S. alone use the equivalent of the output of about 60 300-MW power plants. If all the nation’s households used the most efficient refrigerators, electricity savings would eliminate the need for about 30 power plants.
From tumblers to tutus, there’s no shortage of washing to do around the home, all of which takes energy. Just making hot water uses about 14 percent of your home energy budget.
Many new innovations save energy in the cleaning department. One of the simplest and least expensive is a low-flow shower head -- a familiar technology that has improved from earlier versions. It can cut your shower water use in half while maintaining the same pressure as before.
If you are in the market for new appliances, look for these efficient, energy-saving features:
Dishwashers that use soil sensors to shorten the washing cycle, saving water and energy.
Clothes dryers that have moisture sensors that turn off the unit when the clothes are dry.
Clothes washers that use less water and energy.
Energy Consciousness Tips
Set your hot water heater thermostat at 120 degrees (or “low”). It’s hot enough for most needs -- including dishwashers, which are generally made with booster heaters -- and it cuts down on energy needed to keep water hot in the tank.
Wrap your hot water tank in an insulating “blanket” if it feels warm to the touch.
Use warm or cold water for laundry when possible, rinse in cold, and wash when you have full loads. Today’s cold water detergents do a good job.
TOO "PLUGGED IN"
The economic boom in our consumer-oriented society, the growth of new technologies, and the changing workforce -- more people working from home -- have dramatically increased the number of products that require power in the average home. Some of today’s homes sport multiple computers, printers, faxes, TVs, VCRs, CD players, and hair dryers.
Computer equipment is the fastest growing electric load in the world. In fact, energy use by computers could double by the year 2000. Unfortunately, much of the energy for computers is wasted because they are often kept on while not in use.
Furthermore, most idle appliances -- TVs, VCRs, cable boxes, DVD and CD players, cassette decks, cordless phones, burglar alarms, microwaves -- continue to consume energy when switched off. This energy keeps display clocks lit and memory chips and remote controls working. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory calculates that these energy “leaks” account for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption, cost more than $3 billion annually, and spew 18 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere.
Idle TVs and VCRs alone cost U.S. consumers more than $1 billion a year, or some $30 per household. Emissions from power plants supplying that electricity are equal to the pollution caused by 2 million cars! New technology in Energy Star qualified TVs and VCRs will reduce wasted energy by up to 50 percent.
Activate your “sleep” feature on Energy Star qualified home office equipment (PC, fax, printer, scanner) -- so that it automatically powers down when not in use to save up to $70 annually in electricity bills and improve product longevity.
Energy Consciousness Tip
Turning off your computer during long periods of non-use cuts costs and improves longevity.
It’s A Fact
Each year, Americans spend more money to power home audio and DVD products when turned off than when actually in use.
Every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity you avoid using saves more than 1½ pounds of CO2 from being pumped into the atmosphere. If over the next 15 years, Americans bought only Energy Star qualified products, we would shrink our energy bills by more than $100 billion and eliminate as much greenhouse gas pollution as is produced by 17 million cars for each of those 15 years!
ON THE MOVE WITH ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Whether you are on the move in your car or making a move to a new home, energy efficiency can significantly reduce your operating costs.
Power$mart and Energy Consciousness Car Tips
If you are in the market for a new car, think high gas mileage to save hundreds of dollars in fuel bills over the life of the car and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. www.fueleconomy.gov
If everyone purchased one of the four most efficient models in each class (sedans, sub-compacts, SUVs, light trucks), fuel economy would be 12 percent higher, according to EPA. Americans would save 13.1 billion gallons of gasoline annually, or the equivalent of 157 million tons of greenhouse gasses.
Improve your existing or new car’s fuel economy 9 percent (about 2 mpg) to save 43 gallons, $53 dollars, and 820 pounds of CO2 emissions annually by taking three easy steps: (1) get a tune-up to improve fuel economy 6-9 percent, (2) drive a little slower -- for each mph you drive less than 65, you save about 2 percent, and (3) properly inflate the tires so that you don’t lose 1-2 percent in fuel economy for each pound of under-inflation.
Looking to rent or buy a new home? If you have previously experienced costly repairs to achieve savings and comfort, you may know the value of a quality, energy-efficient home. Beyond earlier points in this booklet, how might you know if a home is built to the highest efficiency standards?
Look for new homes with the Energy Star. They are certified to use at least 30 percent less energy than required by the national Model Energy Code and typically feature high-performance windows, advanced insulation and sealing, and high-efficiency appliances and heating/cooling systems. (Energy Star homes site: www.energystar.gov/)
Obtain a home energy rating to determine a home’s relative energy efficiency prior to pur-chasing to see what upgrades would have the greatest payoff. The cost can sometimes be financed as part of an energy-efficient mortgage.
If you are refinancing your home, consider wrapping in energy home improvements. Your interest may be tax deductible.
Energy Consciousness Tips
Consider landscaping around the home. Planting evergreen trees on the north side and deciduous (leafy) trees on the south side of a home can block winter winds and summer sun.
You can rest assured that energy-efficient homes, products, and cars will do the work of cutting your utility and gasoline bills, increasing your comfort, and decreasing pollution day after day, year after year. They pay off now and in the future
DOING YOUR SHARE
There are many ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency. The “mix and match” choices are yours: You can invest in the latest energy-efficient technologies and products, make basic home improvements, and/or practice energy-saving habits.
Here is a brief checklist to see how you are doing. Use it to assess how Power$mart and Energy Conscious you are and to set some goals for you and your family.
Energy-Efficient Energy Star Purchases
Energy Star qualified products: top consideration in new or replacement product purchases for your home
1. high-efficiency furnace/air conditioner or heat pump
2. programmable thermostat
3. double-pane windows with low-e coatings
4. compact and other fluorescent light bulbs
5. energy-efficient refrigerator
6. dishwasher with energy-efficiency setting
7. clothes dryer with moisture sensor
8. clothes washer that saves water and energy
9. efficient home office equipment and electronics
10. insulate attic, exterior walls, basement and crawl spaces
11. replace dangerous, inefficient halogen torchier lamp with Energy Star qualified torchiere
12. certified Energy Star home
Low Cost Home Improvements
1. replace funace and airconditioning filters monthly
2. caulk between window/door frames and walls
3. weatherstrip windows and doors
4. add storm windows or use plastic film kits to improve single-pane windows
5. insulate hot water heater
6. install motion sensors, dimmers, and timers for indoor and outdoor lighting
7. plant trees to shelter your home from the elements
8. install ceiling or other fans to cut down on airconditioning costs
No Cost Energy Conscious Behaviors
1. clean furnace and air conditioner filters
2. turn off lights when you leave a room
3. use sunlight for light or heat whenever practical
4. match pot size to burner size and keep the lid on it
5. set hot water heater no higher than 120° F
6. do laundry in cold or warm water
7. use computer Energy Star qualified computer sleep feature
8. turn off electronics when not in use
9. close blinds or shades in summer
10. do full loads in dishwashers, clothes washers, and dryers
11. keep your car tuned up and its tires properly inflated