Tips to save money and energy

When it comes to reducing your energy consumption, you do not always have to spend a lot of money to save a lot of money. Follow these simple energy saving steps from the Department of Energy and you will be on your way to saving energy and putting some money back in your pocket.


For more information, visit the Department of Energy’s original blog post for this infographic.



Evolution of Appliances

The Evolution of Appliances

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.

$62 Million in Annual Savings

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.

1980 Refrigerator = 2 Modern Refrigerators

ACCCE Chart: Amazing Drop in Home Appliance Energy Use

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.

Taking Standards to the Next Level

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:


What’s next?

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.


Landscaping for Energy Savings

Tips to help you save energy and improve comfort

Guest writer Michelle Andersen is the Design Director for Flourish Landscape and Interior Design.

Properly insulating and air sealing your home will improve your overall comfort and reduce your energy usage. However, even after these improvements, your home likely remains exposed to the impacts of the sun and wind. A well planned landscape design can enhance the curb appeal of your home and provide energy saving benefits.

Here are some of my top landscaping tips that can help you improve the savings and comfort of your home year-round.

  1. Screen areas that have high wind exposure with evergreen trees to protect your home from heat loss. For smaller urban yards a columnar arborvitae or juniper screen in a zigzag line works well. I place them in a zigzag for a more natural look. If you have more space, try Spruce or Spring Grove Arborvitae.
  2. Plant a deciduous tree to shade parts of your home that get hot from sun exposure. While the leaves on the trees will block the summer sun, the winter sun will be allowed to warm the home after the leaves drop. Choose a tree that has a full canopy such as a Maple and find out how tall it will grow – there are Maple cultivars that will stay as small as 25’ tall that work well for small yards. Be sure to place the tree at least that far from the foundation of your home. For narrow spaces try the Franz Fontaine Hornbeam in a row of 3 or 5.
  3. Tree lined streets create a microclimate that cools neighborhoods and can lower your cooling needs by as much as 20%. Check with your municipality to see what street tree programs they have. The City of Cincinnati’s Releaf program provides a free tree for homeowners in the fall that they can plant in their front yard. Sometimes you can request a tree or pay to have one planted in your tree lawn, the strip between the sidewalk and the road. For those without a tree lawn, consider planting trees on your own and encourage the neighbors to do the same for and added bonus of increased property value.
  4. Lawns are a beautiful and conventional way to keep a low maintenance landscape, but they don’t have many environmentally friendly qualities. Transform portions of your lawn into landscape beds that contain a small native tree such as a Serviceberry, Dogwood, or Redbud to create a cooling effect in the summer as well as reduce the mowing needed.
  5. Hardscaping can attract and hold heat from the sun. Patios, driveways, and any other hard surface made of concrete, stone, asphalt, or pavers can improve your property value, but they also attract and hold heat from the sun. Shade hardscape surfaces with trees or a roof structure or choose a light color surface. This will also make these spaces more enjoyable and usable during our hottest days.

Properly designing your landscape can greatly enhance the way you function in your outdoor space and provide energy saving benefits. Try implementing some of these tips on your own or consult with a landscaper or designer for a more professional approach.

For information on consultations and design plans contact Michelle at or 859-815-0068.

What is your heating footprint?

In the winter when we are all trying to stay warm, the last thing on most people’s mind is the impact that their heating choices can have on the environment. ENERGY STAR developed this great infographic to show the impact that one household can have when they switch to ENERGY STAR heating equipment.


For more information, visit ENERGY STAR’s original post for this infographic.


Lighting made easy

With all the changes to lighting that have occurred over the past few years, it can be difficult to know where to begin when you need a new light bulb. This infographic from ENERGY STAR explains everything you need to know about how bulbs are rated and can help you make smart decisions the next time you venture down the lighting aisle.


For more information, visit ENERGY STAR’s original post of this infographic.



Energy Saver 101: Home Heating

Heating is the largest consumer of energy in your home so learning about how your home’s heating system works can be a great first step towards reducing your energy bills. The Department of Energy developed this infographic to help homeowner’s learn everything they need to know about heating their home.


For more information, visit the Department of Energy’s original blog post for this infographic.







Energy Saver 101: Water Heaters

Water heating is the second largest energy expense in your home and typically accounts for around 18% of your utility bill. This infographic from the Department of Energy tells you everything you need to know about water heaters including simple steps that you can take to reduce your water heating bills..



For more information, visit the Department of Energy’s blog post that accompanied this infographic.

Forest Park Surpasses Milestone

Brings savings to over one hundred homeowners with Residential Energy Efficiency Program

Forest Park’s Residential Energy Efficiency Program surpassed its community goal of completing over 100 Home Energy Upgrades through the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance’s (Energy Alliance’s) Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program. The City of Forest Park has partnered with the Energy Alliance since March of 2011 to help its residents make whole-home energy efficiency improvements to their homes.

The partnership exceeded the community goal by improving the efficiency of 147 Forest Park homes.

Homeowners who committed to upgrading their homes’ efficiency received funding assistance to jump start their home energy upgrades. To encourage participation, Forest Park residents were able to access incentives from the Forest Park Environmental Awareness Program and the Energy Alliance’s low-interest GC-HELP loan to help finance their improvements.

Forest Park residents combined investment in residential energy efficiency improvements has totaled almost $1,000,000 and has generated over 7,500 hours of private sector labor, in addition to saving over 4 million kBTU annually through energy usage reductions.

These improvements have resulted in lower energy bills for those residents, increased home comfort and usability, and a reduction in their community’s carbon footprint. Andy  Holzhauser, Chief Executive Officer of the Energy Alliance, commented, “Partnering with the City of Forest Park has generated incredible value to Forest Park customers. More than a hundred residents have been able to improve their quality of living while creating ongoing savings to support their families. This is a great success for the community.”

With the homeowner’s permission, the Energy Alliance tracked and analyzed the homeowner’s pre- and post-upgrade utility consumption data for a 24 month period. To date, the Energy Alliance has reviewed the utility data of 44 residents and found that their home energy upgrades resulted in significant energy savings.

Forest Park community members who participated in the program reduced their actual energy consumption by an average of 20%, saving an estimated $400 or more per year on their energy bills.

Wright Gwyn, the Forest Park Environmental Program Manager, remains enthusiastic about this program, which he considers a very successful partnership for Forest Park. Gwyn noted, “Our programs are not isolated programs. They provide an environmentally educational experience in which residents see tangible results. A lot of people [in our community] are not only getting money upfront to make improvements, but they reap the benefits of long term savings as well.”

To recognize this milestone for the community, the Energy Alliance presented the City of Forest Park with an Energy Efficiency Leadership Award on October 7th, 2013 at their City Council Meeting.

About the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (Energy Alliance)

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is a nonprofit economic development agency that drives investment in energy efficiency in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities by providing education, project management, and innovative financing solutions. The Energy Alliance is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program of the U.S. Department of Energy.

About the Forest Park Residential Energy Efficiency Program

The Forest Park Residential Energy Efficiency Program is a project of the Forest Park Environmental Awareness Program, which is a department under the City of Forest Park.  The Environmental Awareness Program is committed to fostering a spirit of cooperation and shared responsibility among citizens, businesses, institutions, and governmental agencies towards the enhancement of local, regional, and global environmental quality.