(BPT) - It’s something everyone in the U.S. needs and uses in their everyday lives — energy to keep the lights on, appliances working and homes cool or warm enough to be comfortable. Now that Americans are spending more time at home, energy needs — and costs — for households across the country are going through the roof.
And unfortunately, energy costs tend to be higher for families already struggling with lower incomes and job insecurity, along with other challenges due to the pandemic. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, low-income, African-American, and Latino households and renters pay up to three times more on energy costs as a proportion of their income.
The result? Some low-income households spend nearly 20% of their income on utility bills, which adds to the challenges already affecting these families as they struggle to make ends meet.
What’s being done to help ease energy burden?
The ENERGY STAR Program and its many partners in the private and public sectors are working to bring the benefits of energy savings to everyone — especially those who need it most. Products that earn the ENERGY STAR label meet strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In addition to providing energy-saving products and services, many ENERGY STAR partner organizations are working to increase access to energy efficiency and deliver assistance to consumers through:
- Lower prices and rebates offered on ENERGY STAR certified products including HVAC systems, smart thermostats, water heaters and household appliances.
- Local utility company programs helping families save energy through income-qualified services, such as free home energy audits and other resources for cutting energy usage and costs.
- Programs assisting low-income families and providing education around energy efficiency include:
- LED bulb giveaways and donations from utility companies around the country, focusing on communities hardest hit by the pandemic.
- Energy assistance programs to help homeowners keep and maintain their homes.
- Teen tech centers to offer safe after-school spaces where teens can learn tech skills and engage with schoolwork.
- STEM-based educational programs to boost interest in science, technology, engineering and math.
Programs and opportunities like these can help your family save on energy costs, while also helping you and your children learn about new energy solutions and even emerging careers in fields that will create a more energy-efficient future. Go to energystar.gov/saveforgood to find out what’s available near you.
How much can you save?
When you take advantage of energy-efficient solutions, the exact amount of energy and cost savings — and benefit to the environment — will vary, depending on the appliance and how much it is used.
But the overall numbers tell the story: Since 1992, ENERGY STAR and its partners have helped American families and businesses save more than 4 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity, and achieve over 3.5 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions.
In 2018 alone, ENERGY STAR certified products helped consumers:
- Save 430 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity
- Avoid $358 billion in energy costs
- Achieve 330 million metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions
What does that mean for your family? A typical household spends about $2,000 per year on energy bills. With ENERGY STAR certified appliances, you can save 30% or about $575 — while avoiding over 5,500 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. A typical household equipped with ENERGY STAR certified products can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 77,000 pounds of CO2 and save about $8,750 on utility bills over the life of these products.
Get started with your home
This year, explore the benefits of greater energy efficiency for your household, including savings on energy and money, while also helping protect the planet.
Learn more about how ENERGY STAR and its partners can help by visiting energystar.gov/saveforgood.