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Many of us are working hard to use less energy at home, but what is the state of energy efficiency policies in the US? According to an American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) report, the US ranks 9th in energy efficiency out of the 12 countries with the largest economies. What is it about the US that has us lagging behind China, Japan and six other countries, and what changes are in store?

Energy Efficiency Policies - How Do They Affect You? (The Dirt on Green}

The ACEEE 2012 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard includes metrics like the efficiency of buildings, industry, transportation and a category called national effort. We find ourselves so far down the list largely due to poor performance in transportation (due in part to our sprawling size and lack of a robust public transportation system) and “national effort,” which reflects our commitment to energy efficiency policies and programs.  

So what’s happening at a national level?

Even though we are behind our peer countries, some exciting things are happening that should ultimately trickle down to us. For some things, we aren’t likely to see the impacts in our own pockets for a while, but less expensive fuel and more jobs will incrementally make things better for all of us.  


Appliance and Equipment Standards will have an immediate impact on energy costs for many people. A series of laws and regulations, beginning with the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (1975) through the Energy Independence and Security Act (2007), have established appliance standards that have benefited consumers directly. Examples include reducing the amount of electricity microwaves use in standby mode by 75% and mandating that, independent of the technology used, light bulbs must consume about 25% less electricity than they used to. R. Neal Elliott, Associate Director for Research at ACEEE, writes that consumer savings from standards that are already in place will add up to a cumulative savings of about $1.1 trillion by 2035.

Building Codes

One of the easiest ways the government can help consumers save energy and therefore money, is to include energy efficiency requirements into building codes. According to the Department of Energy, the Building Energy Codes Program is estimated to save consumers up to $230 billion on their utility bills by 2040. They plan to achieve this in many ways, including climate-specific design, high efficiency windows, lighting and insulation.

Other initiatives offer exciting changes that will take some time to trickle down to the consumer. For example, the Department of Energy’s federally funded budget allots over $2.7 billion to energy and the environment.  Just a few of the ways this money is spent includes:

  • making algal biofuels more available and less expensive
  • funding for Next Generation Power Electronics Institutes to develop more efficient power electronics that will make devices smaller, faster and more energy efficient
  • tax credits for companies manufacturing things like energy efficient furnaces, energy conserving light technologies, specialized electricity transmission towers, and components to enhance electric-motor transportation
  • advancement of high-tech fuel efficient American automobiles

Recently, significant energy efficiency measures were written into the 2013 Climate Action Plan. By reducing wasted energy, families and businesses stand to save a tremendous amount of electricity. This is accomplished by:

  • emphasizing appliance standards (like those for microwaves)
  • funding energy efficiency upgrades in affordable multifamily properties
  • incorporation of energy efficiency factors in mortgage underwriting and appraisals
  • expanding the Better Buildings Challenge

There are many programs and policy frameworks that can help local, state and federal law makers prioritize energy efficient policy decisions. For instance, the Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy was created in 2012 and has identified solutions for increasing US energy productivity (the amount of productivity we get for the energy we use) while stimulating the economy. Their approach includes tactics as simple as educating the public about energy efficiency and as involved as reform of energy efficient tax incentives. They estimate that if their recommendations are implemented, Americans could realize a net savings of over $1000 a year in energy and transportation costs.

Another example is the Energy Productivity Innovation Challenge, an amendment to the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. Originally introduced in 2011, the next step is for it to pass the Senate, then the House, before making its way to the President’s desk. Among other things, this act specifically addresses building codes, industrial efficiency and an interesting program called Supply Star. Like its cousin EnergyStar, Supply Star will allow consumers to make informed decisions by recognizing companies and products with highly efficient supply chains. If implemented, it is projected to create tens of thousands of jobs by 2020 and save over $2 billion in energy costs. 

Energy Efficiency Policies - How Do They Affect You? (The Dirt on Green}

While some national efforts aren’t making an impact yet, states are taking up the slack. For example, many of our peer nations have national energy savings targets that provide reasonable goals that encourage investment and the implementation of existing technology and programs. Simply put, we don’t have one. Fortunately, half of our states have put together something similar: Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS). For example, Massachusetts, Vermont and Arizona require an energy savings of 2% annually. Some states are using the framework created by the EPA’s National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency.  

Energy Efficiency Policies - How Do They Affect You? (The Dirt on Green}

There’s no way to tell which of the frameworks will ultimately stick, but there is certainly a rising tide that stands to benefit us all. In the meantime, you can stay ahead of the curve by continuing to upgrade your light bulbs to LED lights, appliances and devices to energy efficient products and install proper insulation. The best part is that politics aside, all of these changes are designed to save you money on fuel and electricity.

Dawn Richards of EnergyEarth

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Whimsical Found Object Artwork by Terry Cannon {The Dirt on Green} Whimsical Found Object Artwork by Terry Cannon {The Dirt on Green} Whimsical Found Object Artwork by Terry Cannon {The Dirt on Green} Whimsical Found Object Artwork by Terry Cannon {The Dirt on Green} Whimsical Found Object Artwork by Terry Cannon {The Dirt on Green} Whimsical Found Object Artwork by Terry Cannon {The Dirt on Green}

 

 

We love local artists! Chattanooga artist and native Terry Cannon is a self-taught artist who began creating his whimsical images as a child. According to Cannon, his beautifully unique work reflects “gratitude in being a participant in the journey of life.”  He primarily utilizes acrylic and epoxy over thick layers of gesso, wood and found objects in his art. This original technique helps bring Cannon’s vibrant visionary images alive with color, texture and imagination.

Cannon’s life has come full circle, just as much of the material in his art. As a child he was constantly creating. As a teenager, he doubted the worth of his creative visions. “I began to tell myself I was wasting time painting and drawing, so I just quit.” Cannon then turned to alcohol and drugs, leading him through prison and living on the street until 1989, when Cannon almost died. From these experiences he has gained new perspectives in his art.

Cannon’s artwork can be found at his personal gallery, Loose Cannon Art Gallery, located just 2.5 miles from the EnergyEarth headquarters, as well as throughout Tennessee, Florida and across the country in public and private collections. For purchasing information, please contact the artist directly at cannonart@aol.com.

—The EnergyEarth Team

Images © Terry Cannon; everything else © 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Chattanooga's Renaissance Park

Chattanooga’s Renaissance Park reminds us of greener days gone by while leading us into a more sustainable future.  The 28 acre park was designed with ecological recovery in mind. Two large berms cap topsoil that was removed from the former Roper manufacturing site and a system of native plants and natural filters remove toxins from urban stormwater runoff.

View From Renaissance Park

Renaissance Park has been many things over the years:  a key area to many parts of the Civil War, a location along the Trail of Tears, home what would be the end of the steamboat era and a manufacturing plant for more than 75 years.

Renaissance Park Hill

Located on the north shore of the Tennessee River, Renaissance Park is now home to many unique recreational, ecological and educational features.  The outdoor pavilion’s beautiful green roof helps to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases while improving local water quality and stormwater management.

Renaissance Park Outdoor Pavilion Green Roof

The 1.5 acre constructed wetland collects, improves and releases water from two sources of urban pollution: built up water from the contaminated ground beneath the park from the industrial park to which the area was once home and urban runoff from the North Chattanooga urban watershed.

Renaissance Park Urban Wetland

13 acres of the park sit within the Tennessee River’s flood plains and are regularly inundated. Through education and restoration efforts, the park will return native flooded woodland ecologies to this area, providing both an ideal and beautiful habitat for native plants and wildlife to reemerge and thrive.

Renaissance Park Tiered Seating

On top of all these important green aspects, Renaissance Park connects to the Tennessee Riverpark, an 8 mile greenway along the river beginning at John Ross Landing on the south shore and ending at the Chickamauga Dam upstream. The park features winding walking trails, picnic areas, a small amphitheater, tiered seating along the wetland, historic markers and several public art installations.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Rise Up Chattanooga Ladders

Rise Up Chattanooga was a public art project by Virginia-based artist Charlie Brouwer. We caught a look at it while it was still in progress, as shown in the photos. Over 450 ladders on loan from around the city were joined together with heavy-duty cable ties to form a temporary sculpture.

Ladders Up Close

Each ladder was said to represent “the hopes and dreams of its lender”. The standing structure was built to represent individuals of communities joining together to support each other and rise above adversity.

Ladders Entrance

Brouwer began his ‘Rise Up’ projects as a way to engage audiences in contemporary art as contributors. This is his 9th installation of this kind. Amazing and inspirational!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Walnut Street Bridge

Our home city, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

We hope you’re as excited as we are to join the blogging world. You can look forward to the latest energy news, tips on how to save money and natural resources, real life product reviews, recycled and green art installations, DIY projects, delicious recipes and more! We love all things green.

If you’re visiting our website for the first time and aren’t familiar with who we are, we’re happy to introduce ourselves.

EnergyEarth Front Door

We are a one-stop ecommerce superstore offering a wide selection of useful products related to the conservation of natural resources. We seek to reduce environmental contamination and the usage of natural resources by helping you save money and decreasing your energy needs.

Founded in 2011, EnergyEarth is a company of innovators committed to our customers and the protection of the Earth’s natural resources. We seek to save you money and energy while increasing your comfort and quality of life. We are homeowners, neighbors, parents and friends who share the same interests and values as you do.

Our mission is simple: empower the world to use less energy and natural resources.

We strive to carry only the highest quality energy saving products, water saving products and more that promote a healthier, more sustainable environment and provide increased comfort while reducing energy use in innovative, economical ways. We’d love for you to check out our Energy Education section or contact our Customer Care Center if you have any questions about our products. Let us help you save today!

Bookmark our page to keep up with us. Have something you’d like to see our on blog? Leave it in the comment section!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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