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Even in Extreme Heat, Every New England Home Can Save Energy and Money

Release Date: 07/31/2006
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. - July 31, 2006) - While everyone who drives a car is keenly aware of higher fuel costs, sometimes it is easy to overlook the rising energy costs to power our homes. Rising gasoline costs reflect a growing price for all energy - electricity, natural gas, fuel oil and propane are up by 20 to more than 30 percent - which has dramatic implications for running our households.

With gas prices topping $3 a gallon encouraging us to reduce our driving, we should also consider strategies to save money by reducing energy used when we wash dishes, run a load of laundry or cool our homes. One of the most simple, but effective, ways to save energy is to replace a light bulb.

If all 5.3 million New England households replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an energy efficient compact fluorescent bulb, our states and residents would save more than $36 million a year and reduce energy demand by 431 million kilowatt-hours – preventing as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as taking 55,200 vehicles off the road.

The average home uses more energy and is responsible for more pollution than a typical vehicle. Energy burned to power the buildings where we live and work accounts for a significant portion of the air pollution in New England. The average American household spends $1,900 per year on energy – and New Englanders typically spend about 25 percent more. Nearly half the bill goes to heating and cooling.

The silver lining here is that there are significant savings to be found with better energy efficiency. Roughly a third of the energy used in all buildings in the U.S. – homes as well as commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings – is wasted. Thus, a typical home can cut 30 percent or more from its energy bills with basic energy upgrades.

From the way you cool and heat your home to the choices you make in an appliance store, there are a number of simple steps you can take to make your home energy demands easier on the environment and on your pocketbook. Here are a few examples:

    - Air Conditioners : During hot summer weather, many people are glad to have either central air conditioning or an “in the window” room unit. Whatever your needs, look for the Energy Star label and ensure you are purchasing a high efficiency unit. Buy only the size your living space requires – an oversized unit uses more energy and produces uneven cooling. Also, ensure your windows, doors and ducts are sealed well – this helps keep air conditioned air in the house, working for you.
      - Thermostats : For savings of up to $100 a year, install a programmable thermostat to adjust your home's temperature settings when you're away or sleeping. A common misperception is that it takes more energy to cool off (or heat up) a house than it takes to keep it cool all the time. Turning up the thermostat in summer (or down in winter) will always save energy.
        - Lights : Turning off lights when leaving a room saves energy. Changing the five most frequently used lights in your home to energy saving compact fluorescent light bulbs can save about $60 each year. If each New England household changed the five light bulbs they use the most, the reduced emissions to the air would be the same as taking 280,500 cars off the road.

        - ENERGY STAR : When you replace appliances or shop for electronics, look for the Energy Star label on lamps, dishwashers, clothes washer and dryers, air conditioners, DVD players or any one of 35 other products. Energy Star clothes washers use half the energy of other machines; Energy Star lights and fixtures use just one-third the energy of standard fixtures. Consumer electronics account for 15 percent of household electricity use. Many electronics products use energy even when switched off. Electronics equipment with the Energy Star label save energy when off. Better yet, all Energy Star products deliver these savings without sacrificing quality.

        These and other energy saving measures make sense from the point of view of your family’s budget. But they also help preserve the forests, trees and rivers, the air around you and the water you drink. Energy is the biggest source of air pollution contributing to global warming, acid rain and mercury and other toxic substances in our air, water, and soil. Plus, these steps help our country reduce its dependency on foreign oil.

        Useful Links:

        More Energy Star information on Cooling Your World (energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.es_at_home)

        To learn more about how to save energy in your home, Energy Star has a “Home Energy Yardstick” to show how your home performs compared to others, and provides useful tips about improving energy efficiency. See: (energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_energy_yardstick.index)

        By Robert W. Varney
        Regional Administrator
        New England Regional Office
        U.S. Environmental Protection Agency