In addition to holding down taxes for all but the wealthiest Americans, the fiscal package passed this week includes a number of incentives for homeowners to become more energy efficient. Buried in the 150-page document that is the American Taxpayer Relief Act are tax credit extensions for energy-efficient appliances, building materials, and more.
January is the traditional time for belt-tightening and waist watching. To offset your holiday expenses, you may also want to take a look at ways to trim your bloated utility bill. Adjusting your home heating to your schedule is one way as is switching to more energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances. Here are some tips from the experts at Consumer Reports and the Department of Energy.
It's becoming more common to buy major appliances online—roughly 10 percent of refrigerator sales now happen there, versus at a brick and mortar store, up from a blip 10 years ago. But for all the convenience of online appliance shopping, it's not always easy to compare energy consumption data for various models on a retailer's website. An amendment by the Federal Trade Commission to its Appliance Labeling Rule should change that by improving the availability of online energy information for consumers.
Let's use the occasion of the shortest day of the year to say so long to another energy-wasting incandescent lightbulb. Federal law mandates that 75-watt bulbs can no longer be made in the U.S. or imported as of January 1, although retailers can sell remaining stock. Fortunately, in Consumer Reports lightbulb tests we found an LED that uses only 17 watts but is as bright as a 75-watt bulb.
It sounds like the job of a superhero. Help save the environment! How? By using the Eco Mode feature on Samsung's over-the-range microwaves. The manufacturer's green claim got the experts at Consumer Reports wondering how much energy Eco Mode would save you. Here's what we found.
After 12,500 hours of testing energy-saving LEDs, most of the lightbulbs in the labs at Consumer Reports are just as bright as they were after 3,000. What does 12,500 hours mean to you? That's like saying you bought an LED 11 years ago and used it every day for three hours. But not all LEDs still shine brightly in our lab. It was lights out for an EcoSmart from Home Depot.
The holidays involve a lot of entertaining and all that entails—cooking, dirty dishes, and loads of laundry. You can do it all without throwing money down the drain along with the extra water you're using and the energy it takes to heat it. The folks at WaterSense, the conservation program run by the Environmental Protection Agency, suggest some simple ways to save that your guests won't even notice.
November 15th is America Recycles Day, a national event started by the Keep America Beautiful organization, in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency and various state agencies and manufacturers. Of course, recycling has to happen year round to be effective, but the goal of the event is to encourage communities and individuals to renew their commitment to the cause. With that, here are seven recycling reminders.
With Superstorm Sandy stirring up talk of climate change, here's one encouraging statistic: Americans used less energy in 2011 than in the previous year, according to the latest energy flow chart from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The decline was largely due to the transportation and residential sectors' embrace of higher-efficiency technologies, such as wind power and hydroelectricty.
The Apple store is always crowded with device devotees checking out the latest iProducts, but starting tomorrow, October 30, Apple will start selling lightbulbs. But not just any lightbulbs. The Philips Hue LED web-enabled system, $199, lets you switch the color of the LED bulbs from warm to bright white or to almost any color in the rainbow using any smart device in your home or remotely with the flick of a finger. Consumer Reports bought a set from Philips a few days before it appeared on store shelves. Here's our initial take on what Hue can, and can't, do.
All this talk about LEDs replacing incandescent lightbulbs isn't new. Just ask the man who invented the first practical semiconductor LED 50 years ago. Even then he predicted that LEDs would someday replace incandescents because they turn most of the electricity they use into light. Thomas Edison's invention has had a very long run, but his incandescent lightbulb converts only 10 percent of its electricity into light, releasing the rest as heat.
As fall heralds in cooler weather, it's time to think of ways to save on your utility bills by conserving energy around the house. Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumers Reports, and the nonprofit Green America, are holding an online video contest for parents and kids to show how they save energy at home.
With winter temperatures expected to be near normal, most households will be spending more to heat their homes than last season when temperatures were mild. The pocketbook pain will be especially acute for the six percent of homes that heat with oil—average expenditures for those households are forecast to be higher than any previous winter on record, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and almost 20 percent more than last year.
Today is Energy Star Day, which kicks off two weeks of events celebrating the program's 20th anniversary. With help from Energy Star, American families and businesses have saved nearly $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, says Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. And she'd like consumers to take a pledge to save even more.
Massachusetts and Mississippi landed at opposite ends of the energy-efficiency spectrum today in a report that names the states with the best and worst records at implementing energy-saving programs. It was the second year in a row that Massachusetts has been the high scorer on the list from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
Our testers put 100s of products through their paces at our National Testing and Research Center. Learn more about how we test for: