Help Save Species by Saving Energy

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Climate change is one of the gravest threats facing the wildlife and ecosystems WWF is fighting to protect. In order to slow climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced. Reducing energy use is a fundamental part of curbing emissions since much of it comes from burning fossil fuels, the primary source of emissions in the US -- accounting for 86 percent of total CO2 emissions in 2008.[1]

While climate changes on a global  scale, individuals can make a difference through their decisions in the market place. For this reason, WWF is a proud partner of TopTen USA — a new non-profit organization that provides a clear, user-friendly Web site for consumers to easily find the most energy-efficient products.

Today TopTen USA announced the launch of its free, Web-based rankings of the 10 most energy-efficient products in a wide range of categories: refrigerators, freezers, televisions, computers, vehicles, dishwashers, clothes washers, and monitors. The TopTen USA site lists the 10 best choices for each product category, along with pricing, specifications, local and online retail options, and personalized rebate information.

TopTen USA is an unbiased, fully independent tool to help consumers find the most efficient products on the market – products which on average use half the energy of a standard model. Through its Web site, TopTen helps consumers make informed decisions on household products that can help fight climate change by reducing energy consumption, while saving money on electricity and gas bills!

Lou Leonard, Managing Director of the Climate Change Program at WWF, said “Using energy more wisely is fundamental to cutting carbon and other pollution that threatens people, species and ecosystems around the world. TopTen empowers consumers to make smart energy choices that save money, save energy and help protect our planet.”

Since energy efficiency is one of the quickest, cheapest and easiest routes to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, one of TopTen’s goals is to generate greater demand for efficient products, helping to catalyze a market shift toward more climate-friendly products.

Even small shifts in the products consumers buy and use everyday can produce a considerable impact: just a 10 percent shift in current sales to the most energy efficient products could eliminate the release of nearly 3.5 million metric tons of carbon-equivalent gases each year, or the equivalent of taking 600,000 cars off the road. If all products used in the US were TopTen ranked, the country would save over 270 million metric tons of CO2 and more than $46 billion dollars in energy costs over those products’ lifetimes. That would be like taking all the automobiles off the road in California, Florida, New York, and Texas.

Norman L. Dean, President of TopTen USA, said, “We want to make it easy for consumers to find, choose, and buy the most efficient products on the market. We’re spurring an upward spiral toward efficiency—the more consumers demand it, the more emphasis manufacturers will place on efficiency. Rather than copying technology to meet a standard, manufacturers will be innovating to be the best.”

The TopTen USA press release [PDF] today reports that:

"A consumer using older models of these products—those near the end of their common lifespans of 6-12 years—uses 3,666 kWh per year to run them. At the national average for electricity costs, that consumer spends about $440 per year for the privilege, and closer to $650 in states with high energy costs, such as Connecticut, New York, California, and Maryland. If that consumer replaced each of those products with baseline Energy Star products, they would reduce those expenditures by about 37%. However, if they instead replaced their old, inefficient products with comparable TopTen models, they would save 67% of that money and energy. Likewise, by trading in an average U.S. passenger car for one on the TopTen list, consumers would save about 130 gallons of gasoline—8-10 trips to the pump—per year. And in many cases, the products on TopTen USA’s lists cost no more than less-efficient models. While the large appliances that offer the most savings require some upfront investment, most of the high-efficiency electronics are priced right around the median cost-level for their categories."

TopTen USA is part of an international alliance of TopTen organizations, originally founded by the Swiss Agency for Energy Efficiency and WWF, and launched in 2000 in Switzerland. TopTen is now established in 15 other European countries and China. WWF also provided the initial seed grant to start TopTen in the US and has supported many of the other TopTen programs already producing successes. For instance, in Switzerland, since 2004, sales of highly efficient heat-pump clothes dryers, first identified by TopTen in 2000, have gone from 3% of the market to 25% today.

Online Resources

[1] Energy (PDF) chapter in EPA's 2010 Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks(Washington, DC: EPA, 15 April 2010). 

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