Single Serve Coffeemaker Confidential Part IV – The Environment

The Environment

We focused on 2 aspects of the environmental impact of single serve coffeemakers – electricity consumption and waste from used cups / pods. Extra electricity usage in the home leads to higher energy costs, and results in power plant energy production leading to air pollution. Non-recyclable single serve coffee cups / pods produce plastic waste over the product’s lifetime that can end up in landfills.

Energy-  We found the most energy hungry units used more than 10x the energy of the most efficient units, equaling hundreds of dollars over the life of the machine. A big issue here is standby power, as many of these machines keep water hot for 24 hours unless powered off.

Waste-  The average single serve unit owner who drinks 3 cups of coffee per day over 5 years would use enough disposable pods to stretch across 3 football fields. By using refillable pods, you can cut down on that waste, but lose the convenience many Americans demand. Some machines come with recyclable or compostable pods – so keep an eye out for those options.

For only a few cups of coffee a day, some single serve coffeemakers can save energy, offer more drink variety and produce faster results than an electric drip coffeemaker. On the other hand these units can produce lots of plastic waste. At larger quantities, an energy efficient 10-12 cup machine can produce coffee at a more efficient per cup rate – if you make and drink a full pot. Higher usage environments are likely to do better, environmentally speaking, with energy efficient 10-12 cup coffeemakers, albeit with less convenience and drink variety. Lower usage environments may do better with a single serve machine with regard to energy consumption, although each machine is slightly different.

Please see our blog on Ownership Costs to factor this in to your buying decision.  And stay tuned for our release of Savenia Labs Energy Ratings on SIngle Serve Coffeemakers.  In stores soon!

Savenia Labs Expands to Potomac, Maryland

We are delighted to announce that Savenia Labs Energy Ratings are now available in Potomac, Maryland at Strosniders True Value Hardware Store.  This is our 3rd store in Maryland and builds on our successful launches late last year in Bethesda and Silver Spring.  Here is the full press release.

Potomac, Maryland is a town of great natural beauty including Great Falls National Park and the historic C&O Canal.   Local residents live and play in this natural environment, and can now shop for more energy efficient products and save money on energy costs, while reducing pollution due to electricity production.

Strosniders Potomac is all about great customer service, and by providing Savenia Labs Energy Ratings they are giving customers a unique public service to go with their full line of small appliances and housewares.

Please join us in welcoming Strosniders Potomac to the Savenia Labs network.  They are offering $5 off on all Savenia Labs Energy Rated products (coupon here) so why not stop in to see the display…let us know what you think!

Happy Earthday from Savenia Labs

Earth Day sure looks a lot different today than when we started Savenia Labs 3 years ago. There is now a much larger and growing community of people, organizations, and companies involved. And awareness of environmental issues continues to spread across all age groups.

All the while the sustainability winds are blowing harder in the retail world. Large retailers like Walmart have launched sustainability scorecards at the supplier level and other programs to procure better products, reduce costs, and strengthen their connection with valuable shoppers. The impact of these activities is occuring at all levels of the supply chain, from product manufacturers to parts and service suppliers.

Savenia Labs is perfectly positionned to help. After a stunning launch in Strosniders True Value Hardware stores (video), we are ramping up lab testing and expansion plans in more stores. By next Earth Day, we hope to multiply the number of smiling shoppers using Energy Rating labels to save money.

Thanks so much to all of our partners and stakeholders for the help and advice.

We will be on the National Mall over the weekend participating in the activities – hope to see you there!

Why not join the conversation and follow along as we scale the energy efficiency mountain – follow us on Facebook to stay in touch at if you LIKE.


$3.5m Halloween Porch Lights – Now That’s Scary!

$3.5 million. That’s how much we estimate Americans who still use traditional bulbs will spend tonight from 6-9pm on their incandescent porch lights for trick-or-treaters. The power plants that produce this electricity will fill 350,000 gasoline tanker trucks with air pollution over this 3 hour period. If Americans switched to CFL lights the numbers drop by 75%, and the bulbs last 8x longer. Now that’s a real treat for Halloween!

Addendum November 2 2011

After this post we received a number of questions, comments from consumers who had problems with CFL lights breaking before the end of their advertised life. We did some research on this and found that all Energy Star qualified light bulbs are required to offer a manufacturer warranty of 2 years to consumers. (For more information click here: You may need to keep your receipt to take advantage of these warranties – contact your retailer or the manufacturer for details.

Prices for more efficient light bulbs have fallen dramatically over the past few years so you can now get a CFL for under $2 each (for a 60 watt equivalent).


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.

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.