TopTen USA: The latest energy-efficient products

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"TopTen USA: The latest energy-efficient products"

http://www.toptenusa.org/design/site/images/logo_toptenusa_beta.pngTopTen USA is a new nonprofit organization that identifies and publicizes the most energy-efficient products on the market.  One of their partners is World Wildlife Fund, which explains what TopTen USA is all about on their blog:

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.

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14 Responses to TopTen USA: The latest energy-efficient products

  1. Bob Lang says:

    I don’t see the lowly compact-fluorescent light bulb (CFL) on their top-ten list, even though every school child knows that it represents the simplest and most effective way to reduce electricity consumption, way ahead of the other items on their list.

  2. Turboblocke says:

    How odd: I’ve a 10 year old Smart for two cabriolet, European model. Ove those 10 years it has consistently given 20km per litre of 95 octane gas. Yet the top ten site credits it with just 41 mpg.

  3. Sasparilla says:

    This is a great idea and nice to see this site moving forward.

    #2 Turboblocke, the US Smart doesn’t get particularly good gas mileage for its size (a Prius or Civic Hybrid get better mileage) – whereas the European model, particularly the diesel does. I don’t know if the gas engine in the US Smart is bigger than yours and / or if the automatic transmission (which is supposed to be terrible based on what people have said) that comes with the US model also effects the US numbers. Its an interesting observation.

  4. GFW says:

    Well, 20 * 3.78 * 0.62 = just under 47.

    47 is a good bit better than 41, but not so much that test conditions can’t explain it. Drivers who deliberately try for good mileage can do 20% better than official test numbers. Conversely “low efficiency” drivers who have more adverse conditions (weather, traffic) often do much worse than official test numbers.

  5. catman306 says:

    Can you still even buy full sized refrigerators that are NOT frost-free or with switches to turn that feature on or off? I suspect that user defrosted refrigerators could use half the kwh/yr that these top ten models do. People can do work that is generally considered to be the work of fossil fuel. Every bit helps.

  6. GFW says:

    Ah, I commented before I saw what Saparilla said. I didn’t even realize the site was using the mileage for a US model that is different from Turboblocke’s Euro model. That’s probably most of the difference in this case, but what I said about test conditions and driving style is still generally applicable. I routinely get better in-city mileage on my cars than they’re rated (though only 5%-10% better) because I mostly drive at non-peak hours and I try to time stoplights to minimize breaking.

  7. GFW says:

    Heh, braking, not breaking. Minimizing breaking cars is also good :-)

  8. GFW says:

    I just submitted the following comment at TopTen

    A section on hot water heaters and tanks vs tankless would be good, unless you think that’s well covered elsewhere.

    Hot water is a bigger energy user than some of the categories they’re already covering.

  9. Walter Meier says:

    #3 Sasparilla:

    I also heard or read somewhere that they added a substantial amount of weight to the US Smart model to comply with Federal safety standards. That would likely also affect fuel efficiency. I get roughly 35-36 mpg on mine, since I use it mainly for city driving.

    I know they’re introducing an electric version soon. I wish I’d waited for it.

  10. catman306 says:

    If a hot water tank is inside the insulated area of a house, the wasted energy is utilized as household heat in the winter. Of course this wasted energy increases the AC load in the summer.

  11. Omega Centauri says:

    Wasted waterheater heat. It depends on how you heat, and what kind of water heater you have. If your water heater is electric, and your building heat is gas, than the water heater is using expensive electricity versus cheap natural gas. The main reason for this is that your utility converts natural gas (or gasp maybe coal) at moderate efficiency to electricity, and if you have an electric water heater you then convert it back to heat. Much better to get the heat directly from your furnace. And of course what fraction of the year are you heating your house?

  12. OregonStream says:

    Bob, the CFL is all fine & good, but lighting remains a relatively moderate part of the typical household energy bill, with relatively little variance in efficiency within a given product class (halogen, CFL, LED). Not so true of refrigerators, washing machines etc.

  13. OregonStream says:

    Catman306, that’s an interesting question on refrigerators, and so is whether it makes much difference. Today’s defrosting mechanisms are supposed to be fairly efficient, vs. letting frost build up and reduce refrigeration efficiency, then having to cool the whole lot down again when you’re done manually defrosting. Might depend some on the average humidity in your area. If there were generally much of a benefit to doing it the old fashioned way, you’d think there would be more of a niche market for them.

  14. John Kazer says:

    One of the tricky things about concentrating upon energy efficiency is that you don’t take into account the embodied energy and emissions of making your stuff.

    In terms of cars, this is quite significant. In terms of gadgets or lightbulbs much less so.