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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.

LEDs are the most efficient choice for lighting your home, office, or anywhere you need light, indoors or out. And they come in every style!

Decorative and Dimmable LED Bulbs (Specialty LEDs)

Decorative bulbs can outfit your beautiful, decorative fixtures with your choice of LED lights that will look just like any other candelabra bulb. The Feit LED 3.5 watt clear flame tip bulb gives off an inviting, warm white light and replaces your 15 watt incandescent candelabra bulbs. You can save over $25 over the life of each bulb. Have a chandelier with six lights in it? You could save over $150 on that one fixture!

Decorative and Dimmable LED Bulbs (Specialty LEDs)

If you have a light fixture with a higher profile and you want a little more light per bulb, the MaxLite Candelabra 2.2 watt LED will also give off a warm white light while replacing your 25 watt incandescent bulb and save you a whopping $140 per bulb over its lifetime (that’s $840 for a six bulb fixture)!

Decorative and Dimmable LED Bulbs (Specialty LEDs)

Dimmable bulbs are available in nearly every light output and shape. We have nearly 50 dimmable LEDs backed with our 4everLED guarantee! Choose from light bulbs ranging from warm white light (2700k) to cool white light (4100k) and a brightness equivalent to 15 – 120 watt incandescent bulbs.

Decorative and Dimmable LED Bulbs (Specialty LEDs)

Dimmable LEDs may not work as intended with a typical dimmer switch (sometimes known as a legacy dimmer switch) because of the drastic difference in their design. For the best results and the most savings, purchase an energy efficient dimmer switch rated for use with dimmable CFL and LED bulbs.

With prices like ours, there’s no reason to wait to switch to LEDs. Make the switch and start saving today!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sources:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/improvement/electrical-plumbing/how-to-use-a-dimmer-switch-with-cfls-and-leds-15882096

We love energy saving gadgets! Check out these 6 products that will save you big bucks that you might not have known about.

1.       Black and Decker Thermal Leak Detector

6 Energy Saving Products You Didn't Know About {The Dirt on Green}

Black & Decker’s Thermal Leak Detector is an easy tool to use and can help save a lot of money by reducing future utility bills. Discover where the energy leaks are in your home with ease: simply point the detector’s infrared light at a wall to establish the base temperature, and then move it along various surfaces to find hot and cold spots. When the measured surface temperature differs the light will change to red or blue to indicate a hot or cold area. You can set it for 1°, 5° or a 10° change to trigger a color change. This handy tool is extremely accurate as to where the spot is projected and the temperatures taken.

2.       Showertime Shower Timer

 

6 Energy Saving Products You Didn't Know About {The Dirt on Green}This simple shower timer device is great for kids and adults alike – the race against the clock is fun and keeps the focus on getting clean and getting out, instead of dawdling in the shower and wasting water.  The Showertime will gently remind you when it’s time to turn the shower off. To install, simply use either the suction cup or adhesive backing to attach it to the shower wall. When you get in the shower, press the Showertime and a blue LED turns on for 4½ minutes, followed by a red LED that will flash for 30 seconds as a convenient reminder of the amount of time that has elapsed. Saving water has never been easier!

3.       BITS Wireless Smart Strip Power Strip

6 Energy Saving Products You Didn't Know About {The Dirt on Green}

Control all your electronics with the press of a button with this all-in-one smart power strip. What truly sets this power strip apart from other smart strips is the fact that there is no control outlet. Instead, use either the included remote control or connect it to a USB port on your computer, television, or other master electronic and when you shut down, the power strip will automatically turn off all your other connected electronics for you. Connect up to four devices to be automatically controlled, while two always-on outlets stay on for devices that need continuous power. Keep track of the remote with the central dock, allowing you to place it on your desk or shelf, or mount it on the wall.

4.       Belkin Conserve Socket

6 Energy Saving Products You Didn't Know About {The Dirt on Green}

The Belkin Conserve Socket is perfect for keeping a lamp on while the kids go to sleep, charging gadgets and more. This handy little device eliminates wasted energy by shutting off power to all kinds of electronics or appliances, including rechargeable devices such as cell phones, cordless drills, as well as blow dryers, curling irons, fans, space heaters and many other items when you don’t need them. To turn the connected device on, simply press the button on the top of the Conserve Socket. The power timer will then automatically shut off power after a designated period of time, saving you energy and money. Set the timer easily to thirty minutes, three or six hours with the side toggle switch. Stopping vampire power has never been easier!

5.       Belkin Conserve Valet Charging Station

6 Energy Saving Products You Didn't Know About {The Dirt on Green}

Did you know that most chargers continue to use power as long as they’re plugged into the wall, even after you unplug your devices? This not only wastes energy, it’s bad for your device batteries. If you have priced replacement batteries for your devices you know they are very expensive, some even have to be sent in to change out the batteries, and that can cost $50 or more! The Belkin Conserve Valet Smart USB Charging Station charges all of your mobile devices in one convenient place, then automatically shuts off after everything is fully charged, saving your batteries and easily paying for itself in no time. It senses when new devices are added, so all your electronics will always get a full charge, even if they were plugged in at different times. The innovative design keeps cords neat and concealed, leaving you with a clear surface to charge up to 4 devices with USB cables at once.

6.       P3 Kill A Watt Edge

6 Energy Saving Products You Didn't Know About {The Dirt on Green}

The Kill A Watt Edge makes it easier than ever to pinpoint your energy consumption with its easy-to-use features. With all the measuring capabilities of its predecessors, plus a CO2 function so you can calculate your carbon footprint, this model is truly the best yet. Comparing consumption statistics is easy with the twin data display. The programmable motion sensor turns off connected devices when not in use, helping you save. After time, the Edge will learn your behaviors and tell you how much you have saved when your devices are really off. The convenient tether lets you easily view data without having to bend over or unplug the device.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Deciding on resolutions can be hard, but sticking to them can be even harder. Make resolutions that you can actually keep this year by pledging to go green with these 5 easy ideas to help you save all year long!

1. Switch Your Light Bulb

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

Replacing your light bulbs with energy efficient LEDs and CFLs is an easy change. Despite all the jokes, it takes only one person to change a light bulb — and since LEDs and CFLs last significantly longer (up to 50 times longer!) than traditional bulbs, you’ll be saving time for years down the road while drastically cutting your energy use. Order your bulbs from us and we’ll deliver them straight to your front door.

2. Eliminate Vampire Power

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

Use energy saving power strips to turn off all your electronics at once! Put your entire entertainment system or home office on a smart power strip and they’ll automatically shut off when not in use with just one click. You could cut your energy bill by around 10% — without lifting a finger!1.       Reduce Water Usage

3.       Reduce Water Usage

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

Using a water efficient shower head can save you money in more ways than one. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and can save you up to 750 gallons a month. On top of that, they’ll save you around $120 each year in related energy costs! Smart, easy and it only takes about 5 minutes: just unscrew the old one and replace it with your new, money saving model.

4.       Weatherize Your Home

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

Keeping an airtight house is important to saving money throughout the year. Maximize your heating and cooling system by sealing cracks with caulk and foam sealant and weather stripping to stop air leaks, eliminate energy loss and prevent damage from water leaks and pest infiltration. Plus, you’ll reduce outside noise inside your home just by sealing those pesky cracks and gaps that let that noise inside.

5.       Go Eco Outside

5 Easy Energy Saving New Year’s Resolutions

There are a lot of benefits to owning a rain barrel. For one, rainwater is a relatively clean and absolutely free source of water! Why not put it to good use? Rainwater is better for lawns, gives you greater control over your water supply, can reduce area erosion and provides an excellent backup source of water in case of an emergency, just to name a few.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2014 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Savings calculations are easily found on the packages of many items, including light bulbs, appliances and many others. For example, this FEIT bulbadvertises a savings value, but how accurate are these calculations? Manufacturers make assumptions about how much your electricity costs and how many hours a day you use your light fixture. They often use national averages, but often there’s no way to tell where they are getting their numbers.

All About Our Custom Savings Calculations! {The Dirt on Green}

At EnergyEarth, we also provide you with savings calculations, but we give you the option to fully customize your savings to ensure you know exactly how much you’ll save. We want to enable you to purchase the products that are exactly right for you, not just approximately.  Even if you don’t want to plug in your own numbers, you can rest assured that our numbers are based on reliable sources with the most current data available.

So what goes into our custom calculations? Some of the simplest calculations are for lighting. Let’s look again at the FEIT Dimmable LED bulb. From the product page, if you click on Custom Savings / Learn More you will see just how easy it is to input your own numbers.  Include as much or as little detail as you’d like, just keep in mind that the more information you put into the calculations, the more accurate your results will be.

All About Our Custom Savings Calculations! {The Dirt on Green}

For lighting, just adjust the number of hours that you expect to use the light and how much your electricity costs – simple as that.

All About Our Custom Savings Calculations! {The Dirt on Green}

At the bottom of the page you can check out the math that happens behind the scenes to arrive at the savings figures. There is no other tool on the internet that allows you to personalize your savings to this extent!

Some products require much more complex calculations; for example, these simple AM foam outlet gaskets that cost just ten cents each. These calculations must consider everything from the region where you live, to the size of your house and the number of outlets on exterior walls. We have included conservative estimates for all of the variables and with just a few clicks you can customize any or all of them.

All About Our Custom Savings Calculations! {The Dirt on Green}

Adjust the custom savings on a showerhead like the Bronze 3 Function Showerhead and you can see that if you shower for 10 minutes a day, you’ll save $368 over the life of the product! Check out the custom savings calculations to see how much you can save in your home today.

At EnergyEarth, we do our best to empower you to make the best decisions about how to invest your energy savings dollars on every product you purchase from us.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Does Green Need to Cost More?

December 3rd, 2013 | Posted by EnergyEarth in Green Tips - (0 Comments)

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

No, It Doesn’t.

Too often going green is thought of as a choice made by only hippies or the wealthy. The good news is that going green doesn’t mean you have to drive a hybrid car or shop at a fancy health food store in your organic cotton, fair trade Recycle or Bust! t-shirt.

Think for a moment about the original green advocates: your grandparents or great grandparents. Living in the shadow of the Great Depression, they were incredibly frugal – which coincided perfectly with green.  So many of the things they did to save water, electricity and money make great lessons for us today.

Change a Few Habits and Think Long Term

The key is to recycle, reuse, upcycle and reduce waste in every area of your life – not just your plastic bottles and junk mail. There are plenty of free and inexpensive ways to go green all around you.

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Water

The least expensive way to reduce water consumption is through better habits!

–          Don’t let it run!

–          Stop leaks

–          Don’t over water gardens and lawns

–          Use less hot water

–          Find out where your water comes from

A small investment in a few simple devices will save you in the long term.

–          Faucet aerators

–          Low flow shower heads

–          Rain barrels (see our previous article about how much they can save you!)

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Electricity

The best way to use less electricity is by changing your habits!

–          Turn off your lights when they’re not in use

–          Turn off devices when not in use

–          Adjust your thermostat

Plus, get a few helpful devices. A small investment upfront will save you in the long term.

–          Motion control light switches

–          Energy efficient lighting

–          Smart power switches

–          Improve insulation

–          Programmable thermostats

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Upcycling

–          Reuse old clothes

–          Find new purposes for forgotten items

–          Donate unwanted items to a local charity

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

Save: Real Estate

Green building doesn’t need to cost more.

–          Going green actually increases real estate value

–          ENERGY STAR® certification can increase your home’s market value

Does Green Need to Cost More? {The Dirt on Green}

More Ways to Save

–          Grow some of your own food

–          Hang dry your clothes

–          Make your own green cleaning products

–          Drink your tap water instead of buying bottles

–          Increase your fuel efficiency

What’s your favorite way to save? Tell us in the comments!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Why Energy Efficiency is Important

The average household spends more than $2,200 each year on energy bills – that’s a big portion of each paycheck. We rely on electricity to power lights, appliances and other electronics every day. As we use more electricity, naturally, our electric bills rise. In turn, fossil-fueled power plants not only generate more electricity, but also create more pollution. The continued reliance on and depletion of fossil-fuel resources threatens the earth’s sustainability, not to mention our wallets’ in these tough economic times. Products such as green lighting, energy saving power strips, energy monitoring devices and programmable thermostats (just to name a few) protect the Earth’s precious resources while saving you money.

Legislation in the US

Legislation that leads to energy efficiency is tricky business. It needs to save energy and preserve or create jobs, all while making economic sense. Since some of these things can often be mutually exclusive, it’s no surprise that the most recent legislation (2009) is the first to hit the Senate in over sixteen years.

How Legislation Affects Energy Efficiency: Rebates and Tax Incentives {The Dirt on Green}

History

  • The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 established programs to promote energy conservation in federal buildings and major U.S. industries.
  • The Energy Conservation and Production Act of 1976 went one step further by including incentives for conservation and renewable energy, providing loan guarantees for energy conservation in public and commercial buildings and authorizing a weatherization program for low-income housing.
  • The Warner Amendment of 1983 allocated oil overcharge funds (also known as Petroleum Violation Escrow or PVE funds) to state energy programs, becoming quite substantial  in 1986 when Exxon and Stripper Well settlements added more than $4 billion.
  • The State Energy Efficiency Programs Improvement Act of 1990 encouraged states to undertake activities designed to improve efficiency and stimulate investment in and use of alternative energy technologies.
  • The Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 1992 allowed Department of Energy funding to be used to finance revolving funds for energy efficiency improvements in state and local government buildings because of the crucial role they play in regulating energy industries and promoting new energy technologies. The EPAct also expanded the policy development and technology deployment role for the states.
  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $3.1 billion for State Energy Program formula grants with no matching fund requirements.

How Legislation Affects Energy Efficiency: Rebates and Tax Incentives {The Dirt on Green}

Current

Electric utility energy efficiency programs have grown continuously and rapidly, totaling $4.6 billion in 2010.

Coming Soon

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act is meant to spur the use of energy efficiency technologies in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors by bringing together many energy efficiency measures, like improving building codes, efficient products incentives and research and development funding for energy efficient technologies.

How Legislation Affects Energy Efficiency: Rebates and Tax Incentives {The Dirt on Green}

Where Do I Find Information About Tax Incentives and Rebates?

Here are a few of our favorite databases for finding tax rebates and incentives:

Or, look for rebates and incentives by state (we’re still compiling this list, so if you don’t see your state or power provider, check the above links):

Arizona

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New York

North Carolina

Ohio

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Washington

Wisconsin

Wyoming

Do you know of any we missed? Include a link in the comments and we’ll add it to the list!

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sources:

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wip/sep_history.html

http://www.meede.org/wp-content/uploads/01.2013_The-History-of-Energy-Efficiency.pdf

http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/2013/1309_An_Energy_Efficiency_Primer_For_Governors_Paper.pdf

http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/downloads/2012_ENERGY_STAR_Summary_of_Lighting_Programs.pdf

Yes It Does!

Commercial real estate has long benefitted from sustainable features, and now residential real estate is catching up! Here’s the short list of the benefits before we go into more detail:

–          Corporate: Investment decisions, energy use disclosures, sustainability indices, tenant demands, carbon disclosures, tax credits and incentives are all among the green trends driving commercial real estate!

–          Residential: The Appraisal Institute released an enhanced form in this past March to help real estate appraisers analyze green features in residential homes!

Does Going Green Increase Real Estate Value? {The Dirt on Green}

What Makes a Home Green?

–          Energy efficient windows

–          Good insulation

–          Water saving features

–          Safe and non-toxic materials

–          An energy efficient HVAC

–          Energy star appliances

–          Green landscaping

–          And more!

Recent Trends in Green Homes

Incorporating energy efficient designs and construction techniques have the potential to offer immediate benefits on monthly and yearly bills. Buyers should be willing to pay more for homes with lower utility bills in anticipation of savings on future costs of operation, and sellers should attempt to charge more for homes with energy efficient features.

Simply put, studies have found that homeowners are willing to pay for greater energy efficiency!

Does Going Green Increase Real Estate Value? {The Dirt on Green}

Intersection of Green and Healthy Homes

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Air and Radiation, indoor air is up to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air, largely due to the presence of mold and toxic chemicals in carpeting, paints and other synthetic materials. In fact, the EPA ranks indoor air as one of the top 5 human health risks. Green or sustainable designs limit indoor exposure to carcinogens such in manufactured wood products and to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in finishes by requiring nontoxic materials.

What Can You Do to Increase the Value of Your Home?

Current assessment tools for the residential market include:

–          The EPA’s ENERGY STAR qualification

–          The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Certification for Homes

–          The National Association of Home Builders’ National Green Building Standard

Each of these assessment tools sets forth various criteria to ensure that the homes certified met a minimum level of increased energy efficiency compared with more common building designs and construction practices.

Does Going Green Increase Real Estate Value? {The Dirt on Green}

Looking to buy or sell?

Here are a few tips to help you maximize your home with green initiatives:

–          Search for a National Association of Realtors Green Designee who has been trained to recognize and understand green features in residential construction

–          Check into energy efficient and energy improvement mortgages

–          Look for a real estate broker who has been trained in green building

–          Consider purchasing a foreclosed property and spend your extra cash making it greener

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Why is Recycling CFLs Important?

Recycling compact fluorescent light bulbs prevents the release of mercury into the environment. CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs can break when thrown into a dumpster, garbage can or landfill.

On top of that, almost all of the materials in CFLs can be reused, including the glass, metals and other materials that make up fluorescent lights.

How Do I Recycle My Old CFL Bulbs? {The Dirt on Green}

Recycling CFLs is not only better for the environment, some state and local jurisdictions require it. Simply contact your local waste collection agency to find out if you live in a city, county or state that requires you to recycle fluorescent bulbs. While we don’t have an exhaustive list, we do know that the following states prohibit mercury-containing light bulbs from being thrown in the trash:

Where and How Can I Recycle CFLs?

How Do I Recycle My Old CFL Bulbs? {The Dirt on Green}

Make an Informed Decision.

Mail-back services are the easiest choice to make when recycling CFLs. Prepaid boxes from Veolia work all of the time, every time and can be mailed back any time, whenever you’re ready.

Visit Earth911 to find collection schedules or drop-off locations in your area. When making your decision about what choice is best for you, note that waste collection agencies:

  • Are usually free, while some charge a fee to handle hazardous materials
  • Sometimes collect household hazardous materials only once or twice a year
  • May also collect paints, pesticides, cleaning supplies or batteries
  • Usually accept waste from residents only – not small businesses

Many hardware supply stores and other retailers offer in-store recycling. Make sure you check directly with the store before you go; not all stores in regional or nationwide chains may be equipped to recycle.

—The EnergyEarth Team

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sources:

http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/recycling-and-disposal-after-cfl-burns-out#important

http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/recycling-and-disposal-after-cfl-burns-out#whererecycle

Electricity is needlessly trickling from dozens of devices in each of our homes, costing Americans $3 billion in energy costs each year.1  Vampire power, also called phantom power, ghost load or idle current, is a slow but constant flow of electricity that occurs even when devices appear to be off.  Although vampire power is sneaky and probably lurking in your home at this very moment, a little knowledge and a few great products will turn you into a vampire slayer – no garlic required.

I Vant to Suck Your Energy: The Truth About Vampire Power

Let’s face it, we all use electricity and we don’t like feeling guilty about it.  In response to the 1973 oil crisis, President Nixon asked Americans to “accept some sacrifices in comfort and convenience so that no American would have to suffer real hardship.”2 Today, if we eliminate just the electricity we waste in standby mode, we would meet 10% of Nixon’s reduction goals with absolutely no sacrifice in comfort or convenience. In fact, you won’t even notice until you get a lower electricity bill.

Many of our previous blogs have highlighted easy ways to save a lot of money by using electricity more efficiently (with CFLs, LEDs and other ENERGY STAR qualified products, just to name a few), but stopping vampire power is about conservation.  So what’s the difference?  Energy efficiency depends on technology to get the most out of each kilowatt of energy you buy. Conservation, on the other hand, is just plain using less electricity, regardless of the method. Eliminating vampire power is conservation without the sacrifice.

Vampire Hunting: How do you identify the extent of vampire power that is drawn in your home? Basically every device that rests in standby mode or has an indicator light is drawing power – and we have a lot of these. I found out how much electricity I was wasting a while ago when I stumbled to the kitchen in the middle of the night for a glass of water.  I was shuffling my feet across the floor, sure that my dog was laying in my path, when I realized that I could actually see. My fire alarm indicator, VCR (yeah, I have one of those), DVD player, TV, speaker, laptop charger and microwave clock provided just enough light for me to see the heap of fur in the hallway and the water glass in the kitchen. Groggy, I returned to bed thinking about those twinkling eyes staring at me in the darkness.  These were the eyes of vampires that were sucking my electricity – and money!

How to Identify Vampire Power:

Look for:

        • External power supplies
        • Large plugs (some cell phones)
        • Chargers with brick batteries (laptops)
        • Indicator lights and continuous display (clocks)
        • Devices with remote controls

Listen for a hum indicating an active drive or a fan

Feel for warmth indicating the flow of electricity

Measure the draw of electricity using a monitoring device

Sometimes that small draw of electricity is necessary. Devices with internal clocks, cable modems or routers, and appliances with temperature monitoring functions (such as refrigerators and HVACs) actually need to be on all the time. For most people, the biggest unnecessary drain of electricity comes from AV and office equipment with lots of peripherals, or accessory electronics. For instance, in my home office I have a desktop computer, laptop, printer, scanner, internet router and computer speakers. Even when I did remember to turn all of these devices off at night, they were still drawing electricity in standby mode.  I will admit that I never – and I mean never – bothered to unplug them all.  The same goes for my TV and its peripherals. There is no way I would tackle that mess of wires just to prevent what seemed like a mere few watts of electricity sacrificed to the vampires. When I learned from energystar.gov that an average US household wastes over to $100 annually on standby power, I realized it was worth taking action.

The Worst Offenders*

  • Desktop computer: $7/month
  • Game consoles: $6/month
  • Plasma or LCD TV: $5/month
  • Cable box with HD DVR: $3/month
  • Laptop with screensaver images: $1.50/month
  • DVD player: $1/month

*Data from: Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Weapons for Slaying Vampire Power: Of course, the quickest fix is to unplug all of the devices that you are not using. This may be reasonable for the television in the guest bedroom, but are we really going to unplug all of these things every night and each time we leave the house for work or vacation? Probably not. Even if you’ve purchased ENERGY STAR qualified devices with the lowest power consumption in standby mode, you can take it one step further.

I Vant to Suck Your Energy: The Truth About Vampire Power

Smart power strips are the most powerful tool in your vampire slaying arsenal. I bought this BITS Smart Strip Power Strip and now I need to turn the lights on when I get up during the night! I plugged my television into the blue Control outlet, my cable modem and phone into the red Always On outlets, and the peripherals like my DVD player in the green Energy Saving outlets. It’s pretty remarkable how my peripherals power up automatically when I turn on my TV. Once the TV is switched off, the power strip stops the flow of electricity to all outlets except those designated to stay on all the time. It just doesn’t get any easier than that.

I Vant to Suck Your Energy: The Truth About Vampire Power

A host of other devices will accomplish the same result. The Save A Watt TV Standby Killer ensures your TV is actually off, not just in standby.  Chargers like the Belkin Conserve Valet draw no current once your phone is fully charged. Better yet, if you want to make an informed decision about where to start conserving, you can always use an energy monitor like the Kill A Watt to measure the amount of electricity used and cost of operating your devices even when they appear to be off.

How to Slay Vampire Power:

  • Unplug devices that aren’t in use
  • Use smart power strips
  • Switch to ENERGY STAR qualified devices with low standby power use
  • Use chargers that power down once  the device is fully charged

Forewarned is Forearmed:  Now that you know how much you stand to save and how easy it is, get out there and do something about it! Without sacrificing your way of living, you’ll begin to notice your electricity bill creep downward. Once you’ve been bitten by the energy savings bug, you’ll thirst for more. Check back often for more energy saving tips and product information.

— Dawn Richards of EnergyEarth

© 2013 Energy Earth LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sources:

  1. http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=about.vampires

  2. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=4208#ixzz2hERYMG93

  3. http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/pdf/aer.pdf

  4. http://standby.lbl.gov/faq.html

vampire power infographic: http://www.radiant.co.za/blog/index.php/about-standby-vampire-power/

vampire tools image: http://www.savvyhousekeeping.com/antique-vampire-killing-kits/

 

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