THEGREENGROK

New Guidelines: Chip, Chip, Chipping Away at Carbon Emissions


by Bill Chameides | April 15th, 2009
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)

Permalink | Comments Off on New Guidelines: Chip, Chip, Chipping Away at Carbon Emissions

Slowly but steadily the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the leadership of Lisa Jackson has been moving to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through the Clean Air Act. Recently the agency took a different tack using the Energy Star program.

EPA established the Energy Star program in 1992 to identify and encourage the development and sale of energy-efficient appliances. The concept is simple: appliances that meet minimum efficiency standards set by the government are given an Energy Star label alerting consumers to the savings these items can provide.

From computers and monitors, the first Energy Star products, the efficiency program has expanded to include water heaters, light bulbs, DVD players, and washers and dryers, to name just a few. Today the label covers more than 60 types of products, including new homes and commercial buildings. (See all products in the Energy Star program.)

Recently, EPA put digital displays and commercial refrigeration units in its Energy Star crosshairs, issuing more stringent requirements for these items to qualify for the efficiency label.

Do the new specs make any difference? Let’s take a look.

Digital TV, Monitor and Picture Displays

Average increase in energy efficiency in EPA’s new requirements, as a percentage: 20
Projected annual cost savings if all digital displays sold in the United States met the new guidelines: $1 billion
Estimated greenhouse gas savings, expressed in terms of an equivalent number of cars taken off the road:
     1.5 million
(Read more about the new requirements.)

Commercial Refrigerators and Freezers

Average increase in energy efficiency in EPA’s new requirements, as a percentage: 33
Projected annual cost savings if all commercial refrigerators and freezers sold in the United States met the
     new guidelines: $275 million
Estimated greenhouse gas savings, expressed in terms of an equivalent number of cars taken off the road:
     400,000
(Read more about the new requirements.)

A Look at 2008 Through Energy Star Savings

Total Energy Star utility bill savings for 2008: $19 billion
Total Energy Star reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, expressed in terms of an equivalent number of cars
     taken off the road: 29 million
Total number of U.S. passenger vehicles on the road (in 2006): 235 million
Total Energy Star savings for 2008, expressed as a percent reduction in these vehicles: 11

UPDATE 4/16/2009

California, long an environmental leader, is also getting into the energy efficiency act for TV displays. The state’s energy commission has proposed efficiency standards for new televisions to be sold in California starting in 2011 and 2013. Why the new standards? The commission’s web site explains it like this: they “will save consumers money, … conserve energy, and make TVs more energy efficient at no additional cost to the consumer. Additionally, these regulations will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease the need to build additional, large power plants.” (For more information visit the California Energy Commission’s web site.)

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