Efficiency from the halls of Congress to the halls of your home

This blog was written by John D. Wilson, former Deputy Director for Regulatory Policy at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | December 20, 2012 | Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy

On Tuesday, December 18, President Obama signed bipartisan legislation that should drive modest advances in energy efficiency by modifying appliance efficiency standards and boosting efficiency efforts by industry and the federal government. The bill, HR 6582, amends the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. It’s a great reminder that some energy issues can see progress even in politically polarized times.

Political polarization these days even extends into holiday gatherings with family and friends, prompting many, including this University of North Texas psychology professor, to opine on how to avoid arguments. But what better way to avoid arguments than to talk about something that everyone can agree on (at least somewhat)?

As you get together with friends and family during this holiday season, you might prepare yourself by studying up on the latest in energy efficient lighting, home electronics, and water heating info. Seriously! You’ve got those lights on the Christmas tree staring you in the face, probably a new iPad or some other gizmo being tried out, and arguments over who is taking the long shower and using up too much hot water when there are 8 other relatives waiting to take theirs. And of course you’ve already gifted greenly!

So, you can “Save Money, Save the Earth” as promoted by the Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings, with the 10th edition just released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and New Society Publishers (NSP).

In promotional materials, Jennifer Thorne Amann, ACEEE buildings program director and lead author of the Consumer Guide, writes that “Every kilowatt-hour you avoid using saves over a pound of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be pumped into the atmosphere. So, if you take your 20-cubic-foot refrigerator from 1998 and replace it with an energy-efficient 2012 model, you’ll save more than 300 kilowatt-hours and 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year. That translates to real savings on your energy bill, and real progress toward curbing carbon dioxide emissions from your home!”

Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, this guide will help you decide which energy efficient improvements will yield the most bang for their buck. Maybe someone around the dinner table will decide to use that gift card to make an energy- and pocketbook-smart investment!

So, now that you have some good conversation tidbits, how do you relate this to national politics? Well, if your scrappy family member is in industry, maybe you could talk about how her company is studying energy efficiency opportunities. According to industrial efficiency advocates, HR 6582 will help “drive awareness and deployment of these energy efficiency opportunities across the entire manufacturing sector, especially into the less energy intensive sites.”

Or maybe you are out having a meal at a deli? Yep, HR 6582 advances energy savings standards for walk-in freezers and deli-style display cases.

And the all-important holiday hot shower? Yep! Stronger energy efficiency measures for water heaters.

Passage of H.R. 6582 — which drew just two dissenting House votes and passed unanimously in the Senate — represented a rare bit of bipartisanship in Congress this year, showing that efficiency maintains broad support … even as energy policy in general remains highly divisive.

When you next raise your glass, happily offer a toast of thanks to civil dialog about our clean, energy efficient future!

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