Out With the Old, In With the New
When replacing worn-out appliances, particularly heating and cooling systems that are over 15 years old, Vargas encourages consumers to look for the ENERGY STAR label.
Former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, who served as administrator of the EPA from January 2001-May 2003, also recommends seeking out the blue label when looking to replace “something as big as a refrigerator or as small as a light bulb.”
“People need to understand that the cumulative impact of their individual behavior can make a difference,” says Whitman. “Those figures [2010’s statistics] show you how much people save the environment over the useful time of the appliance. People tend to say ‘What difference will it make if I use ENERGY STAR? One person is not a big deal.’ Look, if you do it and your neighbor does it and your neighbor’s neighbor does it, then all of a sudden this is the impact you have.”
Whitman says initially there may have been some resistance to purchasing ENERGY STAR products because shoppers believed they were sacrificing quality for energy efficiency.
“People thought they were giving up something,” explains Whitman. “My ENERGY STAR appliances are better than any I’ve had before. They’re efficient, they’re quiet, they’re quick, they’re all the things that you want in a product. People get good quality for the money they spend on them.”
For Gigante, when it came time to replace his refrigerator, he sought out a high-efficiency model.
“The fridge that replaced my old fridge uses half the electricity,” he says.
Unplug and Save
The average American household has 24 consumer electronics products, which includes three televisions, two DVD players or recorders, at least one digital camera, one desktop computer and two cell phones, among others, according to the Consumer Electronics Association,.
In the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power those gadgets is consumed while the products are turned off. This is also known as “vampire” loss because energy is being sucked out of consumers home while not providing any useful function.
According to ENERGY STAR, the average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices while they are off or in standby mode. On a national basis, standby power accounts for more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of annual U.S. electricity consumption and more than $10 billion in annual energy costs.