“I’m pleased to see my passion for solar shared by so many in SW Ohio.”
Alan Frasz, President, Dovetail Solar and Wind
2015 marked a year of changes in the energy sector. There continued to be a shift away from traditional sources of energy like coal toward natural gas and renewables like solar and wind. The Washington Post identified several factors that made 2015 a transformative year for energy. They include:
• A turn away from coal
• The maturation of wind and solar
• The launch of global and domestic climate policy
• Drastically low oil and natural gas prices
Our friends at ACEEE, a national non-profit for energy efficiency, also provided their thoughts on 2015 and what 2016 might hold in store. They see the continued growth of energy efficiency programs at the state and local level as one of the year’s major bright spots. Unfortunately, despite the numerous benefits these programs provide, they continue to face opposition from utilities and political groups.
At the federal level, energy policy is one of the few issues that members on both sides of the aisle can agree. Congress passed some modest energy legislation early in 2015 and an extension of the solar tax credit at the end of the year. Congress will continue to focus on energy issues during 2016 as it works to pass the first comprehensive energy legislation in nearly a decade .
Over the past 30 years, national appliance efficiency standards have helped households across the U.S. reduce their utility bills and the impact they have on the environment. The standards cover a wide variety of appliances and equipment that account for about 90 percent of a home’s annual energy use.
While the first system for establishing standards was passed into law in 1975, it wasn’t until 1987 when the first federal law establishing minimum efficiency standards for household appliances was passed. Since that time, the number of products subject to standards as well as the standards themselves have continually been updated to push for additional energy savings. The standards are estimated to save consumers more than $62 million a year.
This graph from our friends at ACEEE, a national non-profit for energy efficiency, demonstrates the remarkable impacts that efficiency standards have had over the years. While it only focuses on four of the 65 different products that have standards, it is easy to appreciate the impact it has had in other areas as well. It also demonstrates quite clearly why it is a great idea to get rid of that old refrigerator in your garage or basement and replace it with a newer ENERGY STAR model. ACEEE has an article that looks at the amazing decline in home appliance energy use in more depth.
Now that you are equipped with a basic understanding of federal efficiency standards, it’s time to add ENERGY STAR into the mix. Most people know to look for the ENERGY STAR label when they purchase anything from a refrigerator to a computer, but they don’t know what it means. Products that qualify for the ENERGY STAR label go above and beyond the national energy conservation standards. To give you an idea of what this means, take a look at the comparison of the federal standards and ENERGY STAR standards for dishwashers:
The amount of energy savings attributable to appliance and equipment standards will continue to grow in the future. The Department of Energy is expected to begin work in 2016 on standards that will further improve the performance of one of the major sources of energy use in households, heating and cooling equipment. In addition, a number of revised standards for many common household products are also expected to be released in 2016.