How to save energy without trying

By Susan Herold on Monday, April 25th, 2011

Wouldn’t it be nice to save energy without really trying? You probably haven’t noticed, but this is exactly what efficiency standards have been delivering to consumers for decades. Congress has gradually moved up the bar for efficiency, which has driven manufacturers to invest in more efficient technologies and make products that cost less to operate over their lifetime.

The track record for federal appliance standards has yielded stunning consumer savings. Appliance standards since the 1980s have resulted in consumer savings of $34 billion in 2010 alone and are expected to total $300 billion by 2030. Efficiency standards help lower costs of new energy efficient technology by providing economies of scale. The result is higher efficiency products that are more affordable to own and operate and more widely available.

Take your refrigerator as a great example—refrigerators used to consume more than triple the amount of energy they use now. Largely as a result of efficiency standards, refrigerators now use less energy, despite the fact that the average cost has declined and new features have expanded.

Right now there’s legislation pending in the Senate (S. 398) that would keep the progress and savings coming. S. 398 will likely save consumers $43 billion in energy costs to run their appliances, while preserving product choice and affordability.

Even if you don’t plan on purchasing a new appliance for awhile, you’ll still benefit from new and improved efficiency standards. When your neighbor buys a newer, more efficient appliance and lowers her utility bill, she’s also decreasing her energy usage. When consumers decrease their demand for power, they’re helping all consumers by taking pressure off the power grid, decreasing the need for expensive new power plants and decreasing pollution in our communities.

S. 398 builds on the success from current standards for several major appliances and will provide even greater consumer savings and increased efficiency. Because of these great consumer benefits, Consumers Union and other consumer groups support S. 398 and have urged Congress to keep the consumer savings coming.

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