As Temperatures Sizzle, Alliance to Save Energy Calls on Americans to Use Energy Wisely
To Reduce Soaring Summer Electricity Bills, Pollution, Electricity Reliability Problems, Increase Energy Security
Washington D.C, July 17, 2006 – As a heat wave blankets parts of the country, the Alliance to Save Energy calls on Americans to be more energy-efficient to reduce soaring summer electricity bills, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and potential for blackouts or brownouts simultaneously while also helping our nation's energy security. Using less electricity now that is powered by natural gas also puts less strain on natural gas supplies and prices for the upcoming winter, the Alliance notes.
Average households will spend more than $5,000 on energy this year to power their homes and vehicles, projects the Alliance. Consumers in some parts of the country are also facing expiration of electricity rate caps, resulting in soaring electricity prices at the same time higher summer electricity rates went into effect to handle increased air conditioning demand.
The Alliance offers consumers tips that can cut home energy bills and pollution up to 30 percent and also generate some federal tax credits with certain home energy efficiency improvements:
Air conditioning and "keeping your cool"
- Cooling puts the greatest stress on your summer energy bill and the power grid. Maintain your AC equipment with a professional "tune-up" to save you the cost and inconvenience of a breakdown during the hottest days! Clean or replace filters monthly.
- Keep your cool and lower your costs. ENERGY STAR-certified ceiling fans provide additional cooling and circulation, enabling you to raise the thermostat and cut AC costs.
- Forgetful? A programmable thermostat automatically coordinates indoor climates with your daily and weekend patterns, reducing cooling bills by up to10 percent. And you don't have to "remember" to turn the air conditioning off when you won't be home.
- To cut your related energy bills by 30 percent, look for the ENERGY STAR label, the symbol for energy efficiency, when shopping for room air conditioners, major appliances, lighting, home office equipment, windows, and electronics. Find retailers near you at www.energystar.gov.
- Close blinds or shades on the south- and west-facing windows during the day to keep your place cooler or install shading devices such as trellises or awnings.
- Install appropriate insulation for your climate and seal air leaks to increase your comfort, make your home quieter and cleaner, reduce your cooling costs up to 20 percent—and generate a federal tax credit.
- For central air conditioning systems, purchase the highest Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) that you can afford. Tax credits can offset purchases of highly energy-efficient SEER 15 CAC systems as well as energy-efficient heat pumps, windows, doors, skylights, insulation, and hot water heaters. Details in English and Spanish at www.ase.org/taxcredits.
- Bigger is not always better. Poorly-sized air conditioning units can inflate your energy costs and contribute to poor indoor air quality, worsening allergies and breathing. Check with your contractor or local air conditioning system retailer to properly size your unit.
- Cut your air conditioning load, reduce pollution, and fight your local “heat island” effect by planting leafy trees around your home, installing reflective tiles on your roof, and insulating.
- Go “window-shopping” at www.efficientwindows.org. Discover how high-performance Energy Star windows can increase comfort and reduce fading of home furnishings and cooling costs by as much as 30 percent.
- When refinancing your home, consider wrapping in energy-efficiency home improvements. Your interest may be tax deductible.
- Switch to cold water washing of laundry and save up to $63 a year.
- Sip lemonade and think cool thoughts —like how you’ll be freezing next winter and longing for summer again!
Lighting and electronics
- Listen to your mother. (“What do you think, we own the electric company?”) Turn off everything not in use: lights, TVs, computers.
- Consider safer, more efficient ENERGY STAR torchiere lamps over popular halogen torchiere lamps, which can cause fires, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. While inexpensive to purchase, they are expensive to operate.
- Use dimmers, timers, and motion detectors on indoor and outdoor lighting.
- 4 for the planet. Replacing four 75-watt incandescent bulbs with 23-watt fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) that use about two-thirds less energy and last up to 10 times longer saves $190 over the life of the bulbs. If all our nation’s households did the same, we’d save as much energy as is consumed by some 38 million cars in one year.
- Activate “sleep” features on computers and office equipment that power down when the equipment is not in use for a while. Forget the screen saver—it's an energy waster not a saver and uses almost as much energy as an active monitor. Turn off equipment during long periods of non-use to cut costs and improve longevity.
- Plug surprising energy “leaks.” Your idle (turned off) electronics and appliances—TVs, VCRs, cable boxes, CD players, cassette decks, and microwaves—continue to consume electricity to keep display clocks lit and memory chips and remote controls working—costing consumers $4 billion annually. ENERGY STAR products use less energy in the off mode.
Many additional tips and free resources for all types of home and vehicle energy use can be found on the Alliance's consumer web site www.ase.org/consumers. English and Spanish information on the federal tax credits for homes and vehicles is available at www.ase.org/taxcredits.