Using energy efficiently starts at home with simple actions like turning off the lights or computer when they're not being used. The challenge is getting people -- especially kids -- to flip that switch to "off." Starting this month, the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program is tackling this challenge head-on with a new initiative aimed specifically at inspiring families and kids to do their part.
Here's how it works:
Energy Star is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program that helps American save money and protect the environment and our health by using energy-efficient products and practices. In 2011 alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 41 million cars -- all while saving $23 billion on their utility bills and reducing the pollution that contributes to heart disease, asthma and allergies.
As impressive as that is, the job is far from done. Climate change is still rising, and our health and the health of our kids is still at stake. We can make a difference by teaching our kids to save more energy at home. That's where Team Energy Star comes in. This new initiative gives kids and families knowledge and tools they can use to preserve our environment, help protect the climate and create a healthier world.
I've already joined the team myself. But one person a "team" does not make. We all need to join in and do our part. Here are three important reasons why I think it's worth your while.
First, without question, energy efficiency makes life healthier for our children and family. Climate change will likely increase the number of people suffering from illness and injury due to more pollution, extreme heat, floods, storms, droughts and fires as well as allergies and infectious disease. The elderly, the very young, the disabled, and the poor alone are especially vulnerable, as are people with heart disease or asthma. Climate change is also expected to cause more severe allergy symptoms because a warmer climate promotes the growth of molds, weeds, grasses and trees that cause allergic reactions. The more efficiently we all use energy, the less likely we are to get sick.
Second, Team Energy Star will make your job explaining energy efficiency to your children easier. The activities Team Energy Star has come up with offer a creative and fun way to motivate the whole family to feel like they're doing their part together. With Dr. Seuss' The Lorax as the engaging theme for Team Energy Star, kids can learn and have fun at the same time.
Finally, joining Team Energy Star will help you save money. The typical household spends more than $2,100 per year on energy. With Energy Star, you can save over one-third, or more than $700, on your household energy bills without sacrificing features, style or comfort.
Team Energy Star has already lined up some important and influential partners, like the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Do Something, one of the largest organizations in the U.S. for teens and social change. But it's up to each and every one of us to reach our own kids and families.
Kids can join Team Energy Star by visiting energystar.gov/team where they will get easy-to-download educational and interactive materials, such as a comprehensive Action Kit, the Energy Star Home Check-Up, a Lorax activity booklet and a Lorax mustache-making kit. Kids are also encouraged to come back and share their stories about protecting the environment by saving energy, which will be showcased on energystar.gov/changetheworld and throughout social media.
As for impact, consider this: Team Energy Star is part of a multi-year EPA campaign called Change the World, Start with Energy Star. Change the World... has been developed to engage Americans of all ages in using the Energy Star approach to save energy and money and protect the environment. Visit energystar.gov/changetheworld and see how people and organizations all over are making a difference by viewing EPA's Energy Stars Across America map.
You can also take the Energy Star Pledge and join 2.8 million other Americans who are taking action to protect the climate.
If every American household took part in the Change the World, Start with Energy Star Pledge, we would: save more than 126 billion KWh/yr of electricity, save $18 billion in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 20 million cars.
Get more information and join Team Energy Star here.
Follow Diane MacEachern on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DianeMacEachern