When we think about energy efficiency, we often think about choosing an energy efficient light bulb, appliance or television and getting savings on monthly utility bills while reducing our carbon footprint. This fall, the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program showed that energy efficiency – combined with community service, can make an even more substantial impact in communities and on the environment.
With the help of public and private organizations from across the country, the first-ever ENERGY STAR Change the World Tour visited 7 cities over a 1-month period, making a difference in the lives of families, children and veterans through service projects focused on saving energy. These projects will save money and contribute to the fight against climate change and have inspired others to think about what they can do to make a difference through energy efficiency.
When the tour wrapped on October 28th, it celebrated a wide range of energy-efficiency upgrades for community centers and low-income housing facilities. The improvements ranged from new lighting, appliances and windows to improved heating and cooling systems and sealing and insulation. Overall, the projects totaled nearly $9 million in future energy bill savings, not to mention the quality of life benefits.
While the savings speak volumes, so do the tangible differences that communities noticed. For example, the makeover at the Edgewood, Maryland Boys and Girls Club improved the space for kids thanks to new furniture, paint, landscaping, and the facility’s new energy efficient lights. Before the installation, the kids could not see from one side of the gym to the other.
In Denver, Colorado the local utility partnered with Energy Outreach Colorado and the Denver Housing Authority to promote energy efficient behavior among Housing Authority residents, and to highlight the upgrades made in DHA homes over the last two years.
In Arizona, a 135-room housing complex for veterans was updated thanks to ENERGY STAR partners. With the planned savings, the facility’s goal is to direct more funds into care and support such as counseling and job assistance for residents as they get back on their feet.
These examples from the Change the World tour show how ENERGY STAR is only the beginning of an energy efficiency story, whether it’s taking place in a family home, community center or another facility. From the opportunities created by energy savings to the improvements in our environment, the power of energy efficiency lies in decisions made and actions taken by a larger community.