Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR: Unlocking the Comfort and Savings by Air Sealing Your Attic

Attic Air Sealing

By: Doug Anderson

This week EPA invites you to “Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR,” by sealing and insulating your home. This blog post is the third in a 5 part series from ENERGY STAR’s home envelope expert Doug Anderson about the benefits of sealing and insulating your home, and how you can get started this fall.

In yesterday’s blog, we covered how to check your home’s insulation levels and how to look for air leaks. We also covered how to use ENERGY STAR resources to help choose and prioritize your sealing and insulation projects.

To make the largest impact on your utility bill and comfort, you will want to start with the attic.  ENERGY STAR recommends that you always seal the attic first before adding any insulation.

Air sealing the attic: Do it yourself or hire a contractor?

Air sealing the attic is generally a challenging do-it-yourself (DIY) project, but can be well worth the savings in labor costs. If your attic is accessible and not too difficult to move around in, you don’t mind getting a bit dirty, and you enjoy tackling bigger home improvement projects, attic air sealing may be a good DIY project for you.

Even if you are not comfortable taking on this project yourself, don’t let that stop you – there are many qualified contractors who can do the job for you.

How to seal attic air leaks

If you have decided to do it yourself, you will want to start by identifying the locations of leaks, which was covered in the last blog.

Once you have found the leaks, they can be sealed using a variety of materials.  To seal the larger leaks use unfaced fiberglass insulation stuffed into plastic bags, rigid board insulation, a piece of drywall, or expanding spray foam in-a-can.  In some cases, you will need to use metal (such as aluminum) flashing and high temperature caulk to seal holes or gaps near areas that can get hot (such as near chimneys, furnace flues, or water heater flues). Then, seal smaller holes and cracks (under a ¼ inch) with long-lasting, flexible indoor/outdoor caulk like silicone or acrylic latex.

Safety First

After making home improvements that result in a tighter house, there can be an increased opportunity for carbon monoxide (CO) to build up if your gas- or oil-burning appliances are not venting properly.   Have your heating and cooling technician check your combustion appliances (gas- or oil-fired furnace, water heater, and dryer) for proper venting.  This testing is called combustion safety testing.  The testing is easy, but should be done by professional contractor who can sign-off that the systems are OK.

Also, in certain parts of the country, sealing may also trap dangerous indoor air pollutants (like radon) in your home.  To see if you live in these areas or if you just want to learn more about radon, check out the EPA website here.  You can test for radon yourself for a low cost, or hire a professional contractor to conduct tests and discuss solutions if they find problems.  The tests are easy and can give you peace-of-mind.

Additional information on achieving good indoor air quality and proper ventilation in your home can be found here.

Learn More

For more detailed instructions on how to identify and seal air leaks in the attic and throughout the home, visit the Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR website.

Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR this week. Start sealing attic air leaks to unlock the savings in your attic!

Doug Anderson is an ENERGY STAR Project Manager and has been with EPA for 13 years. He works on issues related to the home envelope, including insulation products and energy efficient residential windows.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Do One Thing ENERGY STAR for ENERGY STAR Day!

Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR

Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR 

We’re saving you time, money and energy while you help save the planet.

By: Kristinn Leonhart

So, I don’t know about you, but I really appreciate it when others make things simple for me. After my kids are in bed at night, I’m often online researching the answers to questions like, “How can I help my child focus better in school?” Articles that go on for pages drive me nuts. In today’s day and age of information overload, the articles I love the most are headlined, “Five Easy Ways to Help Your Child Focus in School.” We have noticed users of the ENERGY STAR Facebook page feel the same way. Our fans love our “Try-it Tuesday” posts, where we’re just giving you one thing to try.

This is how “Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR” was born! We’re launching this new, fun way to make it simpler for you to find valuable information. In fact, we’re doing the sifting for you! Each week we’ll highlight one thing ENERGY STAR that you can try. You can do every single thing every week or pick the tips that work best for your situation and budget. The more you do, the more money and energy you’ll save! And you can feel great about helping save the planet, too.

We’re kicking off Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR in honor of ENERGY STAR Day (November 5th). So, Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR starting today and if you keep it up, you’ll see your savings multiply. That’s what we do at ENERGY STAR.  Save you money.  Save you energy.  And together, we fight climate change and save the planet.

Join the over three million Americans who have already pledged to Change the World with ENERGY STAR.  Continue on your energy-saving journey with  Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR. And don’t forget to check out our Facebook and Twitter pages for your Do 1 Thing ENERGY STAR tip of the week! Thank you for being ENERGY STAR champions.

Kristinn Leonhart is the ENERGY STAR Brand Manager and a big fan of saving money and energy and keeping life simple. 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Fall into Fall Energy Savings

Fall leaves

By: Brittney Gordon-Williams

It’s hard to believe but summer has come to a close, and fall is officially here. While summer is my favorite time of year, fall runs a close second. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, the weather is usually just about perfect, with mild temperatures that are great for wearing just a light jacket to keep the evening chill away. But, that evening chill also means that many of us start to crank up the heat, as we try to keep our homes nice and comfortable. As you head into fall, these simple tips can help you keep those high energy bills at bay.

1.)    Use ENERGY STAR Certified Lighting: The sun is going down earlier and earlier these days, and that means spending a lot more time with the lights on. Have you changed out all of your lights to ENERGY STAR certified models yet? Using ENERGY STAR certified lighting means that you are using 75 percent less energy than with incandescent bulbs. Making the switch not only means that you are saving $40-$135 in annual energy bills, but your bulbs will last 10-25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

2.)    Seal and Insulate Your Home: Sealing and insulating the “envelope” or “shell” of your home — its outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors, and floors — is often the most cost effective way to improve energy efficiency and comfort. ENERGY STAR estimates that a knowledgeable homeowner or skilled contractor can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% on their total annual energy bill) by sealing and insulating. Check out ENERGY STAR’s website to find out more.

3.)    Use a Programmable Thermostat: Using a programmable thermostat is one of the easiest ways to save energy this fall. All you have to do is set the correct temperature based on how your home is being used at different points in the day, and let the thermostat do the rest. Setting the device correctly is the most important piece to the puzzle, so use the information on ENERGY STAR’s website and start saving up to $180 per year.

4.)    Use a Power Strip: The end of summer means that the kids will once again be back in the house, watching TV and playing video games. You can make sure that they don’t leave the all of the electronics on day and night by using a power strip. With just one click they can turn everything off at once, helping the entire family to keep those energy bills down.

5.)    Keep Drapes Open: This may be the easiest energy-saving tip of all. Keep the drapes/shades on south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to warm your home. Just don’t forget to close the drapes/shades at sundown to prevent heat loss in the evening.

So, what is your favorite fall energy-saving tip? Leave it in a comment to this post and help other fans of the ENERGY STAR Current save energy, save money and protect the climate this fall.

Brittney Gordon-Williams is a member of the ENERGY STAR communications team. Pumpkin-flavored lattes, warm boots and leather jackets are just a few of the things that she loves about fall. 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Celebrate National Ceiling Fan Day!

ceiling fan

By: Jill Vohr

Today, September 18th is the first annual National Ceiling Fan Day.  If this is the first time you’re hearing about this, it’s probably because it is the first of its kind – but that doesn’t mean that it’s too late to take part.  Ceiling Fan Day is brought to us by one of our ENERGY STAR partners, Fanimation, with support from the American Lighting Association and the U.S. Green Building Council, among others, as well as EPA ENERGY STAR.

National Ceiling Fan Day invites everyone to join the fight to reduce energy consumption by turning off their central cooling systems and relying on ceiling, floor, desk and wall fans to save trillions of  kilowatt hours of energy consumption.  Studies published by Energy Information Administration (EIA) show that 94 million of the 113.6 million residential homes in the United States use air conditioning equipment, and 110.1 million use space heating equipment.  Using ceiling fans instead of air conditioning – or with less air conditioning – is an effective way to save energy since ceiling fans use significantly less energy than air conditioning.

EPA ENERGY STAR supports National Ceiling Fan Day to encourage energy savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with climate change.  We also invite everyone to save even more energy on this day by using an ENERGY STAR certified fan.  Ceiling fans that have earned the ENERGY STAR label are 60% more efficient than conventional fans.  But remember to turn off your ceiling fan when you leave the room.  Ceiling fans cool people, not the room.

So, give National Ceiling Fan day a whirl – pun intended – and turn off your air conditioning and turn on your ENERGY STAR certified ceiling fan today.  You might be surprised how comfortable you can be, not only with the temperature, but also knowing you are helping protect the climate.

Jill Vohr is the Director of Marketing for the ENERGY STAR Labeling Branch. 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Next-Generation Energy Efficient TV Technology is Here

OLED TV

OLED TV

By John Taylor

With football season moving into high gear, lots of us are thinking about the ultimate TV viewing experience. There are many factors to consider when looking for the perfect TV, and with today’s technology it’s possible to have it all – high picture quality and design as well as energy efficiency.

For those of you who are early adopters, you may be wondering about one of the newest TVs on the market – the OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TV.

OLED TV is the next generation in television technology, representing the most significant change in display technology since the introduction of flat-panel TVs. The TVs are ultra-thin and light weight and produce superb picture quality.

Sound’s great? It gets better.

OLED TVs mean that you don’t have to sacrifice performance and style for energy efficiency.

Although “LED” stands for “light-emitting diode” in both cases, the design of each TV is actually quite different. LED TVs simply use an array of LEDs as the backlight for an otherwise traditional LCD (liquid crystal display) TV, shining through a screen of LCD pixels. With OLED TVs, the organic layer creates its own light source for each pixel. As a result, OLED’s improvement over LED’s color, clarity and contrast ratios is quite dramatic. And even with this leapfrogging display technology, OLED TVs can be energy efficient, too.

The first ENERGY STAR certified OLED TV — the new “Curved OLED TV” from LG Electronics — went on sale in July. Among its energy-saving features is the “Smart Energy Saving” mode, which includes a sensor that automatically adjusts the display brightness according to the viewing environment. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s “Energy Guide” label, the TV has an estimated yearly energy cost of only $18.*

To learn more about the first ENERGY STAR certified OLED TV, visit lg.com/us/oled/.

* The FTC’s calculations are based on 11 cents per kWh and 5 hours use per day. Your cost depends on your utility rates and use. Visit ftc.gov/energy.

John Taylor is vice president of public affairs and communications for LG Electronics USA.  

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Back to School Time

Brittney Gordon-Williams

By: Brittney Gordon-Williams

Labor Day is upon us. Nothing illustrates the end of summer better than seeing kids back at the bus stop in the mornings, and if my Facebook feed is any indication, kids across the country are already strapping on those backpacks and heading back to class. For many parents, this time of year brings a sigh of relief, as the whole family gets back to a normal schedule. But, the coming of the new school year can also mean the return to higher energy costs. Here are a few ways that EPA can help your whole family save energy, save money and help prevent climate change as you head back to school.

  • These days kids of all ages use the computer to complete homework assignments, and your child will undoubtedly spend countless hours in front of the monitor. Make sure that your computer is ENERGY STAR certified, and you will use 30-65 percent less energy depending on how it is used. Take your energy-saving a step further and activate your computer’s power management settings. You can save up to $50 each year.
  • The return to school may also mean the return to late nights spent studying. Make sure that your family is saving energy as the kids burn the late night oil by using ENERGY STAR certified lighting. Bulbs that have earned the ENERGY STAR use 75 percent less energy and last 10 to 50 times longer. Cool fact: If you placed an ENERGY STAR certified LED in your child’s nursery room today, it would last until they were in college.
  • Do you have a student heading to college? Make sure they don’t forget all of the great energy-saving education you taught them, and be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR when outfitting their room. From TVs and soundbars to the mini-fridge and light bulbs, ENERGY STAR’s certified products have everything you need to make sure your student is being a good environmental steward, even when away from the nest.
  • Did you know that school buildings can earn the ENERGY STAR? In fact, Demarest Elementary in New Jersey won the ENERGY STAR National Building Competition last year, reducing its energy use by over 50 percent. Check out this year’s competition, and work with your child’s school to save energy all year long. Saving energy leads to saving money, which will add up to an even greater education for the students in your life.

Before the kids get too bogged down with homework, don’t forget to join Team ENERGY STAR! By joining the team, your family will get access to fun and educational resources from EPA to help make saving energy a lesson that lasts a lifetime.

Brittney Gordon-Williams is a member of the ENERGY STAR communications team.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

EPIC Team ENERGY STAR Drive

TeamES_FacebookBadge

By: Brittney Gordon-Williams

Summer is winding down and for kids across the country, school is just around the corner (if it hasn’t started already). But as you run around buying new book bags and other school supplies, you may be pining for just one more fun activity for the whole family to enjoy. Well look no further because Team ENERGY STAR is the perfect way to end the summer!

EPA knows that young people are great influencers when it comes to spreading the word about protecting our environment. That’s why ENERGY STAR teamed up with PTO Today, LG Electronics USA and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (with support from Samsung Electronics) to teach the next generation how they can take action against climate change. With the help of the characters from the movie EPIC, Team ENERGY STAR teaches young people about saving energy in order to better protect the planet. You can join the team on ENERGY STAR’s website and get immediate access to fun and educational resources that teach the whole family about saving energy. Your child can take the EPIC Pledge and get the chance to bring home the newly available DVD of the hit movie EPIC! Teaching your kids about protecting the environment through Team ENERGY STAR will also make you eligible for rewards from LG Electronics.

It may sound like a cliché, but today’s kids are truly our future. Engaging young people in making a difference today will make a big difference in securing a cleaner, more sustainable future. For the past two years Team ENERGY STAR has shown thousands of kids how they can help their family save energy and protect our environment. Sign your family up by September 30th, and end the summer with a great lesson that will stick with your kids for years to come.

Brittney Gordon-Williams is a member of the communications team for the ENERGY STAR Labeling Branch. She does not have any kids, but plans on signing up her Goddaughter Victoria for Team ENERGY STAR.  

 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

The Climate Impacts of Your TV: Beyond the Plug

Verena Radulovic, EPA

Verena Radulovic, EPA

By: Verena Radulovic

The great thing about buying an ENERGY STAR certified television is that you can get the latest in high-resolution technology (with all of the great new functionalities), and yet still feel good about the fact that you are contributing fewer greenhouse gas emissions to our environment by using less energy.  In fact, televisions that earn the ENERGY STAR have cut their energy use in half in just the last few years. When you think about all of the TVs sold each year, this clearly means a lot in the fight against climate change.

What you may not realize is that there is a hidden climate change challenge lurking behind the slim-profile, LCD panel technology typical of the most popular televisions on the market today (not to mention computer monitors, tablets, e-readers and smart phones).  It has to do with how they are made.  To etch and clean the glass in these panels, manufacturers use fluorinated gases that are highly effective, but also potent and persistent greenhouse gases.  For example, SF6 (which is used in the etching process) has a global warming potential nearly 23,000 times that of carbon dioxide, meaning SF6 will cause 23,000 times as much warming as an equal amount of carbon dioxide. If these gases are not captured and destroyed during the manufacturing process, they escape into the environment, contributing to climate change.

The good  news is that these gases can be captured and destroyed as part of the manufacturing process.  The process can also be refined so that fewer gases are used in the first place.  Many LCD suppliers have taken significant steps to reduce their emissions of fluorinated gasses. Yet, as worldwide demand for panels continues to increase, emissions are projected to rise unless all suppliers are comprehensively making reductions. If you’d like to learn more, please visit the EPA website.

About the Author: Verena Radulovic develops and manages various product specifications for the ENERGY STAR program, including televisions, displays and audio/video products.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Cutting Energy Waste from Commercial Buildings Just Got a Little Easier

Lauren Hodges Pitcher

Lauren Hodges Pitcher, EPA

By: Lauren Hodges Pitcher

Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows that it’s hard to do without regularly stepping on the scale. That little instrument doesn’t lie—it tells us if we weigh more or less than we’d like to. It tells us whether our impressive showing at the gym last week was enough to counteract the effects of Saturday night’s four-course meal. And in some cases, a big drop or gain can indicate when something in our body is not working properly.

But did you know that every month, more than 300,000 commercial buildings also step on a scale to make sure that they are in good shape, energy-wise? Before you start picturing a scale the size of a football field, I’ll tell you that this is a virtual scale, available from ENERGY STAR through our online Portfolio Manager tool. Through Portfolio Manager, any building can measure and track its energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and water use in a secure online account–for free.

Nearly 40 percent of the commercial building space in the country is currently “stepping on the scale” every month through Portfolio Manager. That’s great news because although commercial buildings use about 18 percent of our nation’s energy, and contribute about 18 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, they don’t have to. On average, about 30 percent of this energy is wasted! And here’s more good news: A recent study of buildings that consistently used Portfolio Manager over a three-year period showed that they cut their energy use by an average of seven percent (or 2.4 percent per year)!

blog portfolio manager

So let’s get more buildings on the scale, and let’s do what we can to help them save energy and trim down their energy “waste”-lines! Here are a few things you can do to help:

  1. Approach leaders at your workplace, your children’s school, your congregation, your favorite stores, and any other buildings in your community. Suggest that they start stepping on the scale and managing their energy use with help from ENERGY STAR. Send them to energystar.gov/PortfolioManager to learn more.
  2. Bring your green to work! The same simple steps you take at home to save energy can make a big difference in buildings, too. Turn off lights in empty rooms, shut down your computer at the end of the day, and use blinds to block the hot summer sun. Find more tips, plus fun interactive games and quizzes here, on the ENERGY STAR website.
  3. Set a goal to encourage one building in your community to earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification. Yup, just like a refrigerator, buildings can also earn the ENERGY STAR if they are among the most energy efficient in the country! Learn more here.

And did we mention that we just launched a complete upgrade to Portfolio Manager? Now it’s easier than ever to use, with new wizards, reports, graphs, and sharing features. With President Obama calling for a 50 percent cut in the amount of energy that commercial buildings waste, there is no better time to encourage the buildings in your community to take Portfolio Manager for a test drive at energystar.gov/NewPortfolioManager. Who knows how much energy and money you may help them save?

Lauren Hodges Pitcher directs communications activities for the ENERGY STAR program for commercial buildings and industrial plants. She is proud to work in an ENERGY STAR certified office building, and her favorite stores all track their energy use in Portfolio Manager. 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Saving Money Before it Goes Down the Drain

How much can you save by looking for the ENERGY STAR?

By Steve Ryan

Water heating is the second highest source of energy usage in your home, and no matter what the season, hot water is a necessity.  The average water heater lasts about 13 years, but many water heaters are in use past their life expectancy. Nearly 2.5 [1] million water heaters will fail this year, leaving their owners without hot water (and with wet basements). By being proactive, and replacing your water heater before it fails, you’ll have more options. And you’ll avoid cleaning up a flood in your basement.

If you need to replace your current gas or electric water heater or are planning for an upgrade, you should choose a water heating system that not only provides enough hot water, but does so without wasting energy. Look for an ENERGY STAR certified water heater to save energy and money, while also reducing your carbon footprint.

For example, if you replace your old electric storage water heater with an ENERGY STAR model, the annual savings range from $290 for the average household to $670 for a family of six (see graph).  Even with the extra costs for a heat pump water heater (HPWH), which average about $850 (including insulation), you will still see fast savings.

  • For the average household, an ENERGY STAR HPWH pays back in 3 years and saves $2,050 over its 10-year lifespan.
  • For a six-member family, an ENERGY STAR HPWH pays back in 1.3 years and saves $5,850 over its 10-year lifespan.

If you are in the market for a new water heater, check and see if your utility is offering rebates.  For example, Mass Save, an initiative sponsored by Massachusetts’ gas and electric utilities and energy efficiency service providers, currently offers a $1,000 rebate for ENERGY STAR certified heat pump water heaters.  This one purchase can go a long way in terms of saving on your energy bills and taking action against climate change. Just think–if every appliance purchased in the United States this year earned the ENERGY STAR, we would prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the emissions from 420,000 cars.

Steve Ryan started working for the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program in 1999.  He currently manages a national campaign to promote power management called “The Low Carbon IT Campaign.”  For more information and to  get step by step instructions on how to put your computer into low power mode, go to http://www.energystar.gov/powermanagement.

 


[1] ENERGY STAR Water Heater Market Profile, U.S. DOE, September 2010. 8 million sold in 2009 (p. 2).  82% replacement, 65% replacements are unit failure, 60% of unit failures are emergencies. (p. 21).  Doing the math, we get 8 million*.82*.65*.6 = 2.5 million.

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