The Future of Electricity
Energy Star power
Everyone seems to agree that energy efficiency helps protect the environment. But how can you turn that agreement into action?
Kentucky's Energy Star program, a partnership with the national Energy Star program, offers a lot of practical ways to make smart energy choices.
If you've shopped recently for a new computer, washing machine, or TV, you've probably noticed the blue, green, and yellow Energy Star label. That colorful logo means the product meets strict guidelines for energy efficiency, using up to 30 percent less electricity than comparable models.
Karen Landry, program manager for Kentucky's Energy Star Partnership, says, "Things like dishwashers and VCRs really have two price tags. The first price tag is what you pay for the item to buy it, and the second price tag is what it costs for the electricity to operate it after you own it."
Landry says buying products with the Energy Star label can save you money on that second price tag of operating costs.
The Energy Star voluntary labeling program, a joint effort of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, has two goals. One goal identifies products that use substantially less energy than comparable models. The other promotes consumer awareness of the benefits of using these new energy-efficient items.
Members of Kentucky's Energy Star Partnership are working to increase awareness of the Energy Star program here in the Bluegrass State and help Kentuckians add more energy-efficient choices into their everyday lives. The Energy Star partnership brings together local and national building materials suppliers, appliance manufacturers and retailers, homebuilders and mortgage lenders, electric utilities (Kentucky's Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are members), and energy-management professionals throughout the state. They offer many choices to Kentucky consumers who want to use electricity wisely in their homes, offices, factories, schools, churches, farms--wherever energy efficiency can be improved.
Energy Star labels appear on thousands of models in more than 30 different product categories. The Energy Star label is being used by more and more business owners looking for ways to cut expenses and improve profits, by families looking for energy-efficient homes and favorable mortgage rates, and by people shopping for everything from stereo systems to computers to dishwashers.
That's good news, says Landry.
"We want to promote energy efficiency and teach citizens that there are environmental and monetary benefits to saving energy when they choose products that display the Energy Star logo," she says.
As important as saving money on electricity bills each month is, Landry reminds people that the Energy Star motto is "Money Isn't All You're Saving."
According to EPA estimates, just one Energy Star-labeled home can keep 4,500 pounds of greenhouse gases out of our air each year. Millions of those kinds of buying decisions add up--when one co-op member chooses an energy-efficient home, then another person replaces an old appliance with a new high-efficiency model, and someone else selects an Energy Star-rated big-screen TV, the result can significantly lower pollution.
Roy Palk, president and CEO of East Kentucky Power (which generates electricity for 16 local distribution co-ops), says, "We're encouraging all co-ops to help promote the Energy Star program. When we help people use electricity efficiently that means we use fewer resources for production of that electricity--and that means we have a lower impact on the environment."
John Davies, director of the Division of Energy within Kentucky's Department of Natural Resources, notes another advantage: "If the energy required to light one old light bulb would power six Energy Star-certified light bulbs, that helps conserve our valuable resources. That's important because it makes our resources go farther and last longer."
Choosing Energy Star products can help save money, save the environment, and conserve natural resources--your choices really can make a difference.
To learn more about the Energy Star program, visit these two Web sites: www.energy.ky.gov for information about Kentucky's Energy Star Partners, or www.energystar.gov for national information and links to state and local Web sites.
The Energy Star story
Since the national Energy Star program's modest beginnings in 1992, when the first items to carry labels were computers and monitors, many more categories of products have been added.
In 1995, Energy Star certification began for new heat pumps, air conditioners, and programmable thermostats to control existing furnaces and other HVAC systems.
In 1996, Energy Star labels became available for new homes built to use 30 percent less energy than comparable homes, and some lenders began offering special mortgage rates to new home buyers whose homes meet the Energy Star certification.
Manufactured homes with Energy Star labels became available in 1997, and in each year since more categories of appliances and devices have been added.
Energy Star ratings are even available for commercial buildings. In 1999, the 35-story Aegon Center in Louisville became Kentucky's first commercial building to earn the Energy Star rating for its combination of innovative technologies to control heating, air-conditioning, and lighting costs while using electricity in the most efficient ways possible.
In 2001, Energy Star ratings were introduced for ceiling fans, residential dehumidifiers, and commercial washing machines.