Why is Energy Efficiency important to me?

EarthSTEPS in the News

Check out this piece on renewable energy featured in the Tallahassee Democrat by EarthSTEPS’ CEO Colleen Castille (1/12/17)


Castille: Renewable energy can meet all our needs

Kevin Doyle, representing the so-called Consumers Energy Alliance, wrote in a letter (“Renewable energy won’t be enough,” Jan. 7) that Florida’s energy needs could not be met with renewable resources. His statement reminds me of Upton Sinclair’s famous quote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

Consumers Energy Alliance, according to SourceWatch, is funded by big oil companies like BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell. Its board of directors is chock full of oil industry folks. They are pushing to build the Keystone Pipeline and end limits on carbon pollution.

It’s no wonder Doyle is pushing “the expansion of safe, interconnecting infrastructure.” Translate that to support for the Sabal Trail Pipeline being constructed in Florida. Opposition to this 515-mile pipeline that will go over sensitive springs and sinkholes is growing. It’s no wonder Floridians and neighbors to Georgia are concerned about threats to our water.

Renewable energy does not threaten our water supply and it creates good jobs for people right here at home rather than sending money out of state for fuels from elsewhere.

The reality is that the U.S. could meet its energy needs with a combination of conservation, energy efficiency, wind, solar, ocean, geothermal, hydroelectric and biomass. We’ve known this a long time.

More than a decade ago, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory within the Department of Energy found that the potential exists for U.S. electricity demand to be met by renewable energy resources by 2020. They also found that longer term, the potential of domestic renewable resources is more than 85 times what the U.S. uses. They said solar alone could provide 55 times and wind could provide 6 times the energy we currently use.

The potential for energy efficiency is well known. Back in 1990, the electric power industry’s think tank, the Electric Power Research Institute estimated that “if the existing stock of equipment and appliances were replaced with the most efficient commercially available technologies, projected U.S. electricity use in the year 2000 could be cut by 27 to 44 percent without any diminution of services.”

And last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Lab found “a transition to a reliable, low-carbon, electrical generation and transmission system can be accomplished with commercially available technology and within 15 years.” NOAA built a data model to evaluate the cost of integrating different sources of electricity into a national energy system – a new, high-voltage direct-current transmission grid reducing energy losses during long-distance transmission.

We can and we must transition to efficient delivery of clean energy. The time is now.

Colleen Castille is the former Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. She is the CEO of EarthSTEPS, which helps implement and integrate energy efficient practices into the home, workplace and daily life.

Energy Answers

Energy Answers broadcasts each Thursday at 10:04am on 88.9 WFSU-FM. On this segment, EarthSTEPS and Independent Green Technologies address questions and opportunities around solar power and energy conservation.


Here are some of the questions and answers we’ve provided:

Why is Energy Efficiency important to me?
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about 40% of U.S. energy usage is from residential and commercial buildings. Buildings built before the 1980s did not have energy efficiency standards. Today’s building codes mandate that building built in the last decade must meet standard for energy efficiency or how much air leaks out of building. This is because the amount of air that leaks out of a building or the air conditioning duct work is directly related to how much energy your building uses and how much your electricity bills are. A very leaky building uses more electricity than a well- sealed building and has higher electric bills. Lighting also contributes about 10 to 30% of a building’s energy usage. Today’s Light Emitting Diode or L.E.D. lights are about 75% more efficient that incandescent lighting. Sealing your building, its ductwork and changing out lighting can significantly reduce your electric usage.

How do I know if I’m spending too much on my electric bill?
It is difficult to know what you should be spending on your utilities because every home and building are different. One thing you can do is to look at the usage on your bill and compare it to the same time period in previous years. If there are significant differences, then that might be an indicator that there are new issues in your home. One thing is likely to be certain – regardless of what you are spending, there are probably ways to reduce your energy costs. An energy audit is one easy way to tell what you can do to reduce your energy usage. An energy audit will give you the most cost effective changes you can make both in behavior as well as equipment.

What is an ‘Energy Star’ rating and how do I use it in considering purchases?
The ENERGY STAR label is a voluntary labeling program designed by the US Environmental Protection Agency to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Energy Star applies to major appliances, electronics, lighting, and home, office and building products. The little blue star logo, found on hundreds of products, is an indicator that the product uses less energy than a non-energy star product. When you use these products your carbon footprint is smaller and your energy costs are lower. Some of these energy star products are also eligible for federal tax credits. So look for the Energy Star products on energystar.gov/products before your next purchase.

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