Home energy treasure hunt

'Power$mart' provides easy tips to cut energy bills and pollution

provided by Alliance to Save Energy


id you know that your home probably produces twice as much greenhouse gas emissions plus more of some air pollutants than your car?

Due to home emissions from such things as furnaces, as well as emissions from power plants that generate your home's electricity, the average home is responsible for 22,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually compared to 10,000 for the average car.

Power$mart: Easy Tips to Save Money and the Planet, a new booklet by the Alliance to Save Energy, presents a win-win solution to this dilemma for both consumers and the environment. The booklet demonstrates how today's smart, energy-efficient technologies, by getting the most from every energy unit, can cut home utility bills by 30 percent while also reducing energy use, needless air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Through delightful illustrations, Power$mart follows a family of four and its dog on its home energy treasure hunt as they capture lost energy dollars and discover ways to save money, increase their comfort, reduce pollution, and relax afterward while these benefits continue month after month and year after year with little additional effort.

"Energy production and use account for nearly 80 percent of air pollution, more than 88 percent of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, and more environmental damage than any other human activity," reports Alliance President David M. Nemtzow. "Fortunately, affordable energy-efficient technologies and products can provide more comfortable homes and meet our other modern-day personal and business needs without sacrifice."

Power$mart is based on the findings of two rounds of focus groups of homeowners with families as well as in-depth, one-to-one interviews with ten upper elementary and middle school science teachers in Ohio, California, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. They provided input on what they wanted in a booklet and nationwide campaign to increase their awareness of energy efficiency and to motivate them to be more energy efficient.

Packed with easy-to-read tips for use by homeowners, educators, students, and shoppers, Power$mart provides users with the power and the knowledge to make wise choices that meet their lifestyles and needs. Here's a sampling:

  • Substitute compact fluorescent bulbs for incandescent bulbs that burn four or more hours a day. Replacing as few as four 100-watt incandescent bulbs with four comparable 23-watt compact fluorescent bulbs would save $82 over three years. If all U.S. households did the same, we'd save as much energy as is consumed by 7 million cars in one year!
  • As heating and cooling equipment, appliances, computers and office equipment, windows, lighting fixtures, and consumer electronics break down or no longer meet your needs, replace them with products bearing the ENERGY STAR label (symbol for energy efficiency) to cut related annual energy expenditures 30 percent.
  • Obtain a home energy rating to determine a home's relative energy efficiency prior to purchasing to see what upgrades would have the greatest payoff.
  • Plug energy "leaks" with appropriate insulation, low-e or spectrally-selective windows, glass doors, and skylights, and new technology to reduce electricity used by idle (turned off) electronics and appliances. Idle TVs, VCRs, cable boxes, CD players, cassette decks, cordless phones, burglar alarms, and microwaves continue to consume energy when switched off to keep display clocks lit and memory chips and remote controls working costing consumers $3 billion annually.
  • Activate "sleep" features on computers and office equipment that power down when the equipment is on but not in use for a while. Turn off equipment during long periods of nonuse to cut costs and improve longevity.
  • Check out horizontal axis (front-loading) washers which use less water and energy yet get clothes as clean as conventional units, dryers with moisture sensors, high-efficiency refrigerators, and motion-detectors on exterior security lights or room lighting.
  • Tired of awakening to a chilly bedroom in winter or coming home to a stuffy house in summer? A programmable thermostat will automatically coordinate your home temperature with your daily and weekend patterns to increase comfort and monetary savings.
  • Consider a safer, more efficient lamp than the popular halogen torchiere lamps which operate at hotter temperatures than regular bulbs and can cause fires, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. While relatively inexpensive to purchase, they are expensive to operate, notes an "Enlightening Warning" booklet illustration a boy mischievously toasting a hot-dog over the lamp with the words, "bad idea."
  To obtain a booklet, send a self-addressed, #10 envelope and $3 to: Power$mart, Alliance to Save Energy, P.O. Box 33939, Washington, DC 20033-0939. Power$mart, can also be previewed on the Alliance's web site: www.ase.org/powersmart