Your Home's Thirst for Power
By Christine Buurma
From The Wall Street Journal Online
Energy efficiency has come a long way from flickering fluorescent lights.
Amid rising fuel prices and increasingly dire predictions about the effects of greenhouse gases, people are seeking ways to reduce their electricity usage and lower their bills. And they're finding it easier than ever, thanks to a host of new products and services from utilities, government agencies and manufacturers.
The Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program singles out numerous products that meet energy-efficiency criteria. Utilities across the country are offering programs to help customers cut costs. And there are lots of simple household improvements that can cut your power use and lower your bill.
VideoTips for cutting back on energy use at home.
Here's a look at some of the top tips for cutting costs, from several electric utilities and the EPA.
Buy Efficient Products
One of the best ways to cut costs is to use energy-efficient appliances. And there's a simple way to track down products that fit the bill: the EPA's Energy Star designation. The label, which was introduced in 1992, now adorns a wide array of appliances that meet the agency's efficiency standards, from dishwashers, refrigerators and flat-screen television sets to more-modest gadgets such as cordless phones and battery chargers.
Some Energy Star products have a higher upfront cost, but the EPA says the electricity savings over the life of the product typically offset the premium. According to the EPA, a home that uses only Energy Star products and appliances will use 30% less energy than a house equipped with standard products, saving the typical homeowner about $400 a year.
Consumers saved $12 billion on their utility bills in 2005 by buying Energy Star products, the agency says. That's up from $5 billion in 2000. Greenhouse-gas reductions through the program in 2005 were the equivalent of the emissions from 23 million vehicles, up from 11 million vehicles in 2000.