Electricity Prices and Carbon Emissions Up in 2010

Data from EIA. 2011 figure annualized based on increase from first five months.

US carbon emissions rose for the first time in 3 years, according to a Reuters report.  And electricity prices have continued their annual increases to record highs.  Since 2002, electricity prices have only gone in one direction – up – by over 38% during this period.  According to the EIA, carbon emissions were up almost 4% in 2010, the largest annual increase since 1988.  As the economy recovered from the global recession, manufacturing and consumption picked up – increasing emissions of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.  Economic recovery is good – but we think energy efficiency measures can play a larger role in both reducing monthly energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions to support cleaner growth strategies.

As we calculated a few weeks ago, if Americans switched to more energy efficient microwaves, they could cut carbon emissions by 2.5 million metric tons per year and reduce the need for a new power plant somewhere across the US.  At the average price Americans pay for electricity, that would save over $322 million on electric bills, and that’s just for microwaves – already considered an efficient appliance.  Across all kitchen appliances, the total impact could be huge – all while saving consumers money on their electricity bills.  Many of the most talked about solutions to reducing electricity use and greenhouse gas emissions (carbon capture and sequestration, solar power, reforestation) cost money to implement.  Energy efficiency has among the fastest payback periods of any of these investments.  While nobody can predict future energy prices, one thing people can do is shield themselves against future rises by buying energy efficient appliances.  Savenia Labs can help.  Keep an eye out for our revolutionary appliance energy ratings this Fall.

Poll Result: 95% Looking for Appliance Energy Information

Do you look for energy info when shopping for appliances? Our Facebook followers do.  By a huge margin, too.  67% of respondents to our Facebook straw poll told us that they always look for energy usage information on the products they buy while 28% said they looked occasionally.  Only 5% said they never do.  We think awareness is growing nationwide about the importance of energy usage in lowering monthly utility bills and going easy on the environment.  A large part of that awareness was generated by the EPA Energy Star program, which sets efficiency guidelines for manufacturers that want to use the self- certification labels on their products in retail stores.  The impact has been enormous.  In 2010, Energy Star claims to have helped Americans save about $18 billion on utility bills.  That’s a huge number – and considering that the program only covers a fraction of the top selling electric appliance categories – imagine the impact of expanding energy information to the rest!

That’s what Savenia Labs is doing.  We’re imagining the impact on individuals and businesses of providing energy usage data for the next 100 or 1,000 product categories.  This Fall Savenia Labs is releasing our first set of product energy ratings, so make sure to check back here to find out how you can get the facts before you buy.  Also check out our facebook page to enter our newest contest and win a free lab tested appliance www.facebook.com/SaveniaLabs.

New Contest: What’s with Convection Bake Anyway?

One Savenia Labs tested appliance won, several more to go.   This week we want to explore some of the interesting information we found from lab testing several toaster oven functions.  Many toaster oven models now come with a “convection bake” option.  How does convection bake compare to regular bake?  That’s our question this week:

Of the 20 most popular toaster ovens sold in the US, how much energy, more or less, does the convection bake function use vs. regular bake function over 10 minutes. (+%, -%)?

Again, remember that the answer is based on our independent lab testing available nowhere else.  So take your best guess and come back here to see who won and what the difference in energy is.

Good luck!

Announcing Our First Winner!

A Savenia Labs Rated GE Microwave for our winner

A Savenia Labs Rated GE Microwave for our winner

Savenia Labs is proud to announce the first winner of our Vampire Power Contest.  We asked if you could guess the difference in vampire power usage between the best and worst microwaves on the market in the US (among the top 20 most popular).  Guesses were all over the place – from as low as a few percent up to our winner’s guess of 72%.  And even that was quite short.  The actual answer?  A whopping 433%.

We reported a few weeks ago that the clock on your microwave could cost you $30 over the microwave’s lifetime.  By purchasing an energy efficient microwave you could cut that bill substantially.  Added together with all your household appliances, vampire energy costs the average Marylander almost $200 per year.  Make sure you check Savenia Labs’ Energy Ratings, available this fall, before you buy to know which microwaves and other appliances help you save money.

When our contest winner picks up her Savenia Labs rated microwave, we’ll tell you a little more about her.  We thank everyone who entered this week’s contest and hope you’ll all enter next week for a chance to win another Savenia Labs rated appliance.

How Not To Waste $185

$185 per year.  That’s the price tag every Maryland household pays each year to power their electronics when not in use.  Now a new tech startup in Montgomery County is helping tackle the problem.  Savenia Labs tests household electronics and provides information on each model’s energy usage – helping individuals and businesses cut back on their energy usage.

Leading up to their Fall 2011 launch, Savenia Labs is giving away a free Energy Rated appliance every week.  Learn how you can save money and energy by making smart shopping decisions on www.facebook.com/SaveniaLabs.

What We’re Reading: Active Vampire Energy

Here at Savenia Labs, we’ve written a fair amount about Vampire Energy – the energy your electronics waste when you’re not even using them.  For some devices – cell phones in particular – there’s a more active form of vampire energy.  Many cell phones keep their functionality turned on all the time – Bluetooth, wifi, GPS, and a bright screen – many of which you don’t need access to every second of the day.  So your phone goes on using energy to power those functions you don’t need.  Katie Fehrenbacher from GigaOM tells us of a great new app for some HTC phones – PowerMax which turns off these features to reduce base energy usage without affecting the functionality of the phone.

For those other vampire power users in your home, here’s some advice on how to stop wasting energy.  The easiest way to stake the vampire in your house is to buy products that use less vampire power by design.  Look for products that save you energy this fall from Savenia Labs.

What’s a Ton of Carbon Dioxide?

Whenever someone talks about climate change, a ton of carbon dioxide comes up.  But who’s ever seen a ton of carbon dioxide?  How can air weigh a whole ton?  And did you know that they’re usually talking about a metric ton (a bit more than a US short ton)?

Here are three easy ways to think about a metric ton of carbon dioxide:
If you pumped it into a large tanker truck, 1 ton of CO2 would fill about 17 gasoline tanker trucks.

It would take a pine forest a little bit larger than a baseball diamond 1 year to breathe in that much CO2.

The averages American car would emit 1 ton of CO2 by driving from Bethesda, MD to Los Angeles, CA.