Consumer Technology energy efficiency saves money

Published on January 10th, 2012 | by Guest Contributor


Energy Efficiency Saves You Money, Really!

January 10th, 2012 by  


This is a special  guest post by The Climate Reality Project (yes, an Al Gore project). Everything below the picture is from Shravya Reddy of The Climate Reality project.

energy efficiency saves money

Benjamin Franklin would have supported & used innovative, energy-efficient appliances and electronics.

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts to give you the facts about clean energy. Click to read Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4.

Here’s the plain and simple fact – clean energy technology can actually save you money. Chances are you know this, but there’s a lot of misinformation out there – so here’s a quick fact check for when you hear claims that clean energy isn’t worth the cost.

I’m going to start with the easy stuff – energy efficiency. Experts have long said that ignoring energy efficiency is like walking on a sidewalk littered with cash and waving away money that’s yours for the taking. Even though energy efficiency is such a clunky term, it’s actually a really cool concept — doing all the same things you’re currently doing and enjoying all the comforts you currently have (heating, cooling, lighting, power etc.) but with less energy. There’s nothing to give up, except for a chunk of your electricity bill. Hey – I’ll take a double serving of that, please!

When I talk about energy efficiency, I don’t mean turning off the lights. Sure, it’s common sense to turn off appliances when you don’t need them, but energy efficiency does not mean using gadgets, appliances, equipment, and household heating or cooling systems less – it means using them smarter.

I don’t just mean you have to buy fancy new light bulbs, either. There is a whole universe of energy-efficient appliances and equipment like refrigerators, televisions, air conditioners, boilers and others that are designed to deliver “the same bang with less buck.” And certain building components (like insulation, double-paned windows, etc.) ensure that outside temperatures have less influence on indoor temperatures, meaning you’ll need less energy to cool your home in summer or heat it in winter.

But to purchase energy-efficient products, first you have to pay more upfront, right? Well, most often, the slight extra cost of these improvements is offset very quickly by money saved on one’s energy billOne analysis estimates that the additional cost of an Energy Star refrigerator is recouped in just two years, meaning years of savings after the two-year “payback period.” Similarly, savings from lower energy bills can help pay back the additional cost of certain energy-efficient water heating systems within as short a period as eighteen months.

That said, money is tight for everyone these days. What if you just can’t afford the initial purchase? Government rebates on Energy Star products may be able to help lower costs. As of June 2011, rebates worth $246 million were given out to 1.6 million consumers. There are several incentives for businesses too. Here’s a full list of federal incentives that help make energy efficiency cheaper.

The bottom line is that energy efficiency saves money – for both consumers and businesses. That’s what Pennsylvania realized recently, when a new report by Optimal Energy confirmed that its 2008 energy efficiency law is saving families and businesses $278 million a year, has created 40,000 full-time jobs a year, and saved over 2000 gigawatt-hours. What is the impact of this law on the climate? A reduction of 23 million tons of carbon pollution over the lifetime of energy efficiency measures put into place, which is the same as taking 4 million cars off the road every year. Now can you imagine how much difference could be made if every U.S. state did something similar? Or every country around the world? Whoa.

It’s worth repeating: Yes, you can save money through energy efficiency (and renewable energy, which I’ll talk about in the next post). Right after the holiday season, when we all typically stretch our budgets and spend more on gifts and celebrations, isn’t the thought of a little extra savings nice? Saving money is going to be on my list of resolutions for 2012, and so is the adoption of more energy efficient practices. Let me know if you’ll join me with your own clean energy resolution!

Money via shutterstock

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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is many, many people. We publish a number of guest posts from experts in a large variety of fields. This is our contributor account for those special people. :D

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  • Anonymous

    We all love energy efficiency, but the claims made here are nowhere near what the actual savings will be in practice. Let’s take home insulation for example, which is the cheapest efficiency improvement that we can make: An average house will need approx 1,500 sq feet of insulation at a cost of about $1,500. We can assume that we did an excellent job and we can expect from now on to be saving 25% of our Heating/Cooling costs, which account for about 40% of an average home’s electricity bill of $100, therefore our monthly savings will be $10.00 (100 x 0.4 x 0.25). At this rate, we will recover our initial investment in about 150 months, or more than 12 years. Of course we will be saving money, but what about our investment? Isn’t it the same as if we are giving back all of our savings for the next 12-13 years? What about inflation? What if we move, as most people do, before our investment is fully recovered?

    Where did the author get the information that we can recover our initial investment in just two years? Can you give us some specific examples?

    • Anonymous

      Are you suggesting that the average home in places which experience cold winters spend only $100 per month for heat?

      Are you suggesting that the average home in places which experience hot summers spend only $100 a month for AC?

      • Anonymous

        I am not suggesting anything. The US EIA claims that the average electricity bill (for all 125 million homes in the US) is $103.67. That is the TOTAL average for all seasons, including heating in the Winter, and cooling in the Summer. Clearly, the cooling/heating cost is less (40% ??), than the total, or about $41 per month.

        • Anonymous

          You’ve got to consider the heating oil, natural gas, etc. as well.

          And an average bill doesn’t tell the entire story. Someone living along the coast in CA is going to use little electricity for AC. Someone living in Texas, Oklahoma, etc. is going to be paying a lot.

          What you really need to look at is the total energy bill for an non-insulated house located where there are climate extremes. Using a national average is not meaningful as many houses are already insulated, others use little electricity for heating/AC.

          • Anonymous

            Let’s take Florida, one of the worst states in terms of energy use, with almost 9 months of non-stop cooling, and 3 months of intermittent heating requirements. Furthermore, assume that heating/cooling accounts for 50% of the average $130.52 monthly electricity bill. (In Florida heating/cooling is almost exclusively electric, no heating oil or gas).
            Even in the worst case scenario, our savings will be no more than $16.32/month ($130.52 x 50% x 25%). A $1,500 High R-Value insulation job can be recovered in about seven and a half years. This is 4 times longer than what the author(s) claim. The numbers simply do not agree with what is claimed here. Efficiency is great, but at what cost?

          • Anonymous

            .What you really need to look at is the total energy bill for an non-insulated house located where there are climate extremes.

          • Anonymous

            Im really not sure that PK47 wants to understand what you are trying to say. These figures match with many other authors. Saving Energy is a viable solution to many of the environmental problems we have at present.

          • Anonymous

            No one is disputing the fact that saving energy will have a positive impact on our environment. Energy efficiency in particular, is something that is easy to implement by anyone, however, we should be careful not to over-promise, or else we risk alienating people, which will be counter-productive. We need to be realistic in our expectations.

          • Anonymous

            We have to be realistic about our statistics as well.

            If you want to tell someone who lives in an uninsulated house how much they would save, how long it would take to recover the investment, you have to start with how much they spend for electricity and other energy inputs now. You can’t use country-wide average expendatures. Their bills will be much higher than average.

  • Anumakonda Jagadeesh

    Energy Efficiency is the need of the hour especially for developing countries. Each Kwh saved is Each Kwh generated. WASTE NOT AND WANT NOT SHOULD BE OUR POLICY.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
    Wind Energy Expert

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