energy efficient

#EarthDayEveryday

This Earth Day, let’s commit ourselves, our families, and our communities to work toward a brighter environmental future. I’ll be taking part in a service learning project tomorrow with Washington, DC’s Earth Conservation Corps to help clean up the Anacostia River, and I encourage you to serve at an Earth Day event in your community.

But there’s no need to wait until Earth Day—there’s a lot we can do every day to help protect the environment and the climate, while keeping our families healthy and saving money.

Here are just a few ideas:

Reduce food waste. The average family throws away $1,600 a year on wasted food, and rotting food in landfills releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This toolkit can help your family save money and reduce their climate impact with some basic planning and organizing. And by composting food scraps, you can help feed the soil and keep your plants and gardens healthy.

Look for EPA labels when you shop. EPA’s Energy Star, WaterSense, and Safer Choice labels help Americans choose products that save them money, reduce energy and water use, and keep their homes safer from harmful chemicals. Products that carry these labels are backed by trusted EPA science.

 

Wash your clothes in cold water. 90 percent of your washing machine’s energy goes toward heating water, while just 10 percent goes toward running the motor. Consider switching to cold water—along with cold-water detergent—and save your family money on your electric bill.

 

Make your home more energy efficient. EPA’s ENERGY STAR program goes beyond labeling energy efficient products. Our new Home Advisor tool can help you create a prioritized list of energy efficient home improvement projects tailored specifically to your home.

 

 

Learn how to fix water leaks. The average family loses over 10,000 gallons of water each year to leaks. This guide will show you how to find and fix leaks in your home so you can conserve water and save on your water bill.

 

 

 

E-cycle your electronic waste. Spring is a great time to clean and de-clutter. If you’re looking to finally get rid of that old TV, computer or mobile device, this guide can help you find safe ways to recycle it in your state.

 

 

 

Green your commute. To get exercise and limit your carbon footprint, walk, bike, or take public transportation whenever you can. Leaving your car at home just 2 days a week can prevent 2 tons of carbon pollution every year.

When you drive, look for gas containing biofuel to help reduce carbon pollution from your vehicle. To maximize gas mileage, get regular tune-ups, and keep your tires fully inflated. And if you’re in the market for a new car, consider making your next vehicle a fuel-efficient, low greenhouse-gas model and save money on fuel.

EPA is taking national action to fight climate change and protect the environment, but we can all take small steps to keep our families healthy, make our homes safer, and save money. When we do, we help protect the one planet we’ve got.

What will you do? Let us know at #EarthDayEveryday

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Earth Month Tip: Check Out Energy Star’s Save Energy at Home tool to save money and reduce carbon pollution

Energy Star’s Save Energy at Home Tool can guide you in making your home more energy efficient — whether you do it yourself or hire a qualified professional. The online tool has tips for saving energy all around your home and targets each room individually.
Remember, when you save energy, you’re saving money and cutting carbon pollution.

Try the tool: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=popuptool.atHome 

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

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Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Earth Month Tip: Clean the area around the outdoor components of your HVAC system.

Did you know as much as half of your household energy use goes to heating and cooling? Airflow problems can reduce your HVAC system’s efficiency by up to 15% and contribute to carbon pollution. In fact, dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating and cooling system inefficiency and failure.

Check out EPA’s A Guide to Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling for more to learn how to keep your HVAC system clean and efficient.

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

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Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Earth Month Tip: Caulk and Weather-strip Around Windows and Doors in Your Home

A series of daily tips throughout April.

Sealing air leaks around your home and adding insulation can make your home more comfortable and energy efficient while preventing carbon pollution. These simple fixes can provide up to a 10% savings on your annual energy bills. Simple jobs include installing weather stripping on doors and caulking around windows, while bigger jobs might include sealing leaks and adding insulation in your attic.

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Learn more: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_sealing&s=footer

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Use Wood Wisely

By Steven Donohue, Region 3

I was born and bred in Pennsylvania. My teen years were spent chopping several cords of wood a year to feed a wood stove in an attempt to heat our drafty old house and reduce our heating bill.  
 
Today, I use about a half cord of wood a year in our fireplace to brighten cold nights and wet, dreary days. Our energy efficient house and careful burning reduce emissions and save time, money, and my back!

Before burning wood (or any other fuel for heating), it just makes sense to seal up any air leaks and add the recommended amount of insulation to keep the heat you generate inside your house.  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That old saying, by Philadelphia favorite Ben Franklin, applies as much today as when Ben said it in 1735. 

It’s also important to burn your wood efficiently. Anyone who’s ever tried to heat a house with a traditional fireplace knows they suck almost as much heat up the chimney as they provide.  Our 1970s wood stove was better than a fireplace, but still nowhere near as good as the EPA certified unit I have now.  Our fireplace insert is likely fifty percent more efficient, allowing us to burn a third less wood for the same heat.  And, a few years from now, we’ll have even more efficient units: EPA just proposed new rules to reduce the amount of particulate smoke (unburned fuel) down to the weight of about half a penny per hour.

When using our fireplace, I also make sure I burn only seasoned, dry wood.  Wet wood not only gives off less heat, but it makes more smoke and forms creosote that can cause chimney fires. Having planted my share of trees over the years, I know how long they take to grow, so I try to use the wood they provide us wisely.  Once again, a penny saved is a penny earned. To learn how to tell whether your firewood is ready to burn, and get other information on burning wood efficiently, please visit the  BurnWise website.

About the author: Steve Donohue has been an environmental scientist at EPA for over 20 years. Currently, he works in the Office of Environmental Innovation in Philadelphia where he focuses on greening EPA and other government facilities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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More than Just the Cars: Building a Better Dealership

 

NADA

NADA launches new Energy Ally program to help dealers complete ENERGY STAR survey

By: Lauren Bailey, National Automobile Dealers Association

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) is always looking to help owners create a better business. What’s an easy way to do that? Find places to save money without compromising a quality experience for our customers. One place we have found huge potential is in increasing energy efficiency. In view of our longstanding partnership with the U.S. EPA, NADA has launched a new program to help new-car and -truck dealerships reduce their energy consumption through the agency’s ENERGY STAR certification program.

In many other sectors of the commercial buildings market, there are national data sets detailing how buildings use energy. These data enable EPA to develop 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR scores, which rank individual buildings relative to other similar buildings across the country. A score of 50 represents median energy performance, whereas a score of 75 means that a building is more energy efficient than 75 percent of similar buildings nationwide. These scores provide building owners and managers with the critical information they need to assess performance, prioritize investments, and verify improvements over time.

Currently there is no national data set on how new car dealerships use energy. As a result, new car dealerships are not currently able to earn a 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score on EPA’s online energy benchmarking tool, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. For this reason, NADA and EPA are encouraging dealerships to complete a brief survey, available at www.nada.org/energystar. By completing a brief survey, we can help establish some guidelines to help dealerships cut energy costs and reduce emissions. The survey asks dealers to share their yearly utility bills, square footage—inside and out—and different types of equipment used at the dealership, among other questions.

We need to be sure the survey process is thorough, so before we can begin the ENERGY STAR certification process, we need to benchmark the energy usage of at least 500 dealerships. To encourage participation, NADA has launched a new program called Energy Ally, which is a way for outside organizations, such as accounting, consulting and energy management firms, to partner with dealers to get the survey completed. Any business that helps five or more dealerships complete the survey earns an NADA Energy Ally designation. You can apply here.

Dealers are already doing many great things to reduce their buildings’ energy use in communities across the country. One such dealer, Shelor Motor Mile in Christiansburg, VA, has made some simple and cost effective fixes, like installing ENERGY STAR certified CFLs and purchasing high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, that will save money and energy. After all, as Shelor Motor Mile’s Energy Manager John Jordan says, “The bottom line is: it’s about the bottom line. And if you save energy, you’re gonna save money.” Learn more about what Shelor Motor Mile is doing to improve energy efficiency by watching the video found here.

Lauren Bailey is an attorney with the National Automobile Dealers Association where she works on environmental and labor issues.  She received her law degree from the Catholic University of America and her undergraduate degree from the Pennsylvania State University.

 

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Celebrating Six Years of RAD Partnership

Several links below exit EPA Exit EPA Disclaimer

By Gene Rodrigues

They say that you can judge a person by the company he or she keeps. That’s true for businesses as well, and it’s why we’re so proud to be one of 50 utilities, retailers, manufacturers and states that have a strong commitment to appliance recycling – among other energy efficiency programs — that will lead the country to its great green future. Today we celebrate the sixth anniversary of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program.

California utilities were on the forefront of appliance recycling programs more than 20 years ago (we’ve been a RAD partner since 2006), and in May, Southern California Edison customers recycled their 1 millionth refrigerator or freezer.

Through this program, everybody wins. The customer’s electric bills are lowered when they replace an old, inefficient refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR-qualified one that doesn’t have to work as hard to keep food cool. The utility wins because the cheapest kilowatt hour is the one you never use. And the environment wins because there are fewer greenhouse gases and other pollutants that enter the atmosphere, as well as less material that’s sent to landfills. Consider that SCE customers saved a total of 7.9 billion kilowatt-hours when they recycled their 1 millionth refrigerator. That is equivalent to avoiding emissions of 1.1 million cars for a year, planting 140 million trees, and saving enough energy to power 13.5 million homes for a month. And of course, collectively, those customers saved around $1 billion.

There are more opportunities than ever to become energy efficient, no matter who you are – homeowner or renter or business, country or city dweller. Take the first step today and visit your utility’s website to find out how you can contribute to America’s great green future.

About the author: Gene Rodrigues is Director of Customer Energy Efficiency & Solar for Southern California Edison. Gene serves on the boards of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, the China-US Energy Efficiency Alliance and California’s Low Income Oversight Board. He also serves on the advisory board of USC’s Center for Sustainable Cities, the strategy committee for the Edison Foundation’s Institute for Energy Efficiency and the steering committee for the Alliance to Save Energy’s Global Action Network for Energy Efficiency Education. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented Gene with its 2012 Climate Leadership Award for individuals.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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1 Millionth Recycled Refrigerator

By Gene Rodrigues

Last week was a huge milestone for Southern California Edison — we recycled our 1 millionth refrigerator. A million refrigerators is enough to fill a football stadium.

Partners from EPA’s ENERGY STAR and Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) programs and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) helped us celebrate at the Appliance Recycling Centers of America (ARCA) facility in Compton, Calif. Jared Blumenfeld, the administrator of EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region, joined us to watch the ceremonial appliance crushing.

We are proud to have been one of the founding partners of EPA’s RAD program. In fact, I was at the launch event in October 2006. Since then, we’ve continued to be a leader in ensuring that old, inefficient fridges are taken off the grid and properly recycled. That includes recovering harmful substances found in the refrigerant and insulating foam.

As a RAD partner, we’ve avoided emissions of more than 170,000 pounds of substances that harm the ozone layer, and about 3.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s the equivalent of removing 760,000 cars from the road.

In celebrating this milestone, SCE must also give credit to the California Public Utilities Commission and the NRDC, two organizations that provide incredible support for policies that encourage energy efficiency. And of course, without ARCA, and our other recycling partners, a million refrigerators could be disposed improperly, creating extensive damage to the environment.

ARCA began operations in California in 1993 as part of the Rebuild Los Angeles initiative following the civil unrest that occurred at that time. Since then, SCE’s recycling program provided nearly 75 percent of this facility’s business, with 63 full-time employees dedicated to the SCE work – with a 25 percent increase in staff during the busy summer months. For many of these employees, it’s the first time they worked for a company that offered healthcare, educational and vacation benefits.

If you’re curious about what refrigerator recycling looks like, here’s a short film featuring some major crushing action.

And finally, thank you to our customers and to utility customers across the nation who understand that the cleanest, cheapest kilowatt hour is the one you never use.

About the author: Gene Rodrigues, SCE Director, Customer Energy Efficiency and Solar

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Spring into Energy Savings

By: Brittney Gordon

These past two weeks has brought unusually high temperatures to the D.C. area and I am taking full advantage of the sunny weather. I am always excited about the coming of spring and this early start motivates me to shake up my normal routine and start to do some of the things that I have been putting off. For me that includes some energy saving moves that will save my family money and help protect our environment from climate change.

If you are feeling inspired to do the same, here are a few easy tips:

  • Change to More Efficient Light Bulbs: I still have a couple of incandescent bulbs hanging around the house and it is high time that I change them to Energy Star qualified models. Energy Star qualified lighting not only uses less energy, but also produces approximately 75 percent less heat than incandescent lighting, so your cooling bills will be reduced, too.
  • Find the Best Thermostat Settings: If you have a programmable thermostat, program it to work around your family’s spring schedule—set it a few degrees higher when no one is home, so your cooling system isn’t cooling an empty house.
  • Use Ceiling Fans: Run your ceiling fan to create a cool breeze. If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent. Remember that ceiling fans cool you, not the room, so when you leave the room make sure to turn off the fan.
  • Maximize Shade: Pull the curtains and shades closed before you leave your home to keep the sun’s rays from overheating the interior of your home. If you can, move container trees and plants in front of sun-exposed windows to serve as shade.
  • Check Air Conditioner Filters: Check your cooling system’s air filter every month. If the filter looks dirty, change it. A good rule is to change the filter at least every three months. A dirty filter will slow air flow and make the system work harder to keep you cool—wasting energy. Also, remember to have your system serviced annually to ensure it’s running at optimum efficiency for money and energy savings.

For more information on how you can save energy this spring, check out Energy Star’s website for lots of great tips.

About the author: Brittney Gordon works on the communications team for EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. She began working for EPA in 2010 after a career in broadcast journalism.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Spring into Energy Savings

By Brittney Gordon

These past two weeks has brought unusually high temperatures to the D.C. area and I am taking full advantage of the sunny weather. I am always excited about the coming of spring and this early start motivates me to shake up my normal routine and start to do some of the things that I have been putting off. For me that includes some energy saving moves that will save my family money and help protect our environment from climate change.

If you are feeling inspired to do the same, here are a few easy tips:

  • Change to More Efficient Light Bulbs: I still have a couple of incandescent bulbs hanging around the house and it is high time that I change them to Energy Star qualified models. Energy Star qualified lighting not only uses less energy, but also produces approximately 75 percent less heat than incandescent lighting, so your cooling bills will be reduced, too.
  • Find the Best Thermostat Settings: If you have a programmable thermostat, program it to work around your family’s spring schedule—set it a few degrees higher when no one is home, so your cooling system isn’t cooling an empty house.
  • Use Ceiling Fans: Run your ceiling fan to create a cool breeze. If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent. Remember that ceiling fans cool you, not the room, so when you leave the room make sure to turn off the fan.
  • Maximize Shade: Pull the curtains and shades closed before you leave your home to keep the sun’s rays from overheating the interior of your home. If you can, move container trees and plants in front of sun-exposed windows to serve as shade.
  • Check Air Conditioner Filters: Check your cooling system’s air filter every month. If the filter looks dirty, change it. A good rule is to change the filter at least every three months. A dirty filter will slow air flow and make the system work harder to keep you cool—wasting energy. Also, remember to have your system serviced annually to ensure it’s running at optimum efficiency for money and energy savings.

For more information on how you can save energy this spring, check out Energy Star’s website for lots of great tips.

About the author: Brittney Gordon works on the communications team for EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. She began working for EPA in 2010 after a career in broadcast journalism.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.