Year of Action: Assumptions

Assumptions for Energy Actions

General disclaimer:

The purpose of this program is to demonstrate our shared impact as a group, and so we’ve taken advantage of U.S. national averages.  Depending on where you live and your specific energy circumstances, your individual results may vary.

To learn more about your personal energy use and savings, we suggest using the ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick:

Energy savings accounted in this program relate only to direct energy consumed.  Estimated savings do not include embodied energy or lifecycle analysis.


Assumptions and citations for specific actions:

Energy Action #1: 
We assume that you’ll gain a bit of wisdom by assessing your energy use.  Remember, the real impact starts when you ACT on what you’ve learned!


Energy Action #2: 
This assumes that 60 watt incandescent light bulbs are replaced with 13 watt compact fluorescents, and that lights are on for 3 hours per day. This saves 51 kWh per year per bulb switched, which is 153 kWh per year for three bulbs. The national average for kWh to CO2e is = 1.55536126/ pounds CO2/kWh, which gives a total savings for this action of 237.97027278 lbs of CO2e.

Sources:ENERGY STAR Data Book Worksheet for 2011. More of these details and assumptions are available in a downloadable spreadsheet at kWh to CO2e conversion from

Facts about CFLs mentioned in the action are available at and .


Energy Action #3:

A typical home uses 17% of its energy on cooling and 29% on heating, for a total of 46% total energy use on heating and cooling (citation:  The average home uses 11280 kWh per year (citation:, with 5188.8 kWh per year (46%) used on heating and cooling.
By insulating your home, you can save approximately 20% on your heating and cooling bills. This estimate is based on energy modeling (using REM/Rate version 11.0) of cost-effective improvements made to ‘typical’ existing U.S. homes with a weighted composite of characteristics. To learn more about how these numbers are calculated, visit and  Twenty percent of 5188.8 kWh per year means saving 1037.76 kWh per year.


Energy Action #4:
The average home uses 11280 kWh per year (citation: With proper landscaping, you can save approximately 25% on total energy bill, which is 2820 kWh.
The statistics of potential energy savings are cited by the University of Florida at, “Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of the energy a typical household uses for cooling (U.S. DOE, 2007). Studies conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found summer daytime air temperatures to be 3–6 degrees cooler in tree-shaded neighborhoods than in treeless areas (U.S. DOE, 2007).”


Energy Action #5: 
A typical American household uses 11280 kWh of electricity per year. Seventeen percent of this is for cooling. Each additional degree the AC is adjusted above 72 degrees uses 3-5 percent more energy to cool your house (citation: So (11280kWh) times (0.17) times (0.03) times (0.03)=115 kWh.


Energy Action #6:
The carpool calculation assumes driving 5 days a week with one extra person in car with a total of 3 miles driven.  This saves 492 CO2, which is equivalent to 316kWh.  The public transportation calculation assumes 3 miles traveled five days per week, compared to a 22.4 MPG car.  This saves 984 CO2, which is equivalent to 632kWh.
See the citations of the CO2 saved at See the conversion details from CO2 to kWh here:


Energy Action #7:
A typical dishwasher uses 343 kWh per year.  An ENERGY STAR dishwasher can save up to 10%, which is 34 kWh per year.
To learn more about these statistics, download the “Savings Calculator for ENERGY STAR Qualified Appliances” which can be easily searched on the internet (it’s an excel spreadsheet and so no easy link is available, but we found it at here).  You can find the relevant information on the inputs page: select standard/ then electric for hot water type; then to the dishwasher calcs tab.  This number came from cell D26 on that spreadsheet.


Energy Action #8:
A 36” LCD television uses 144 W, according to the California Energy Commission ( Converting to kWh/year gives 1296kWh per year if the TV is run continually. Therefore, a television’s power consumption for a two hour period is 0.2967 kWh, and multiplying this value by 52 weeks in a year gives an annual energy savings of approximately 15 kWh. Plasma TVs use more electricity, and CRT TVs use less.


Energy Action #9:
An average DVD player, turned on but not playing a DVD, continuously consumes 7.54W of electricity, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s study ( This corresponds to (9×7.54=67.8)kWh/year. Multiplying this number by 2/3, corresponding to the DVD player being turned off for 16 hours/day, gives about 45kWh of energy saved per year.


Energy Action #10:
You can save up to $40 per year by using only cold water for laundry, according to ENERGY STAR.  A kilowatt-hour of electricity costs approximately 11.26 cents*, so 4000 cents divided by 11.26 cents per kWH gives a savings of 355kWh. *Source:


Energy Action #11:
One 6 oz. serving of beef contains 478.5 kcal, according to In “Diet, Energy, and Global Warming,” University of Chicago professors Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin found that it takes 100 kcal of fossil fuel input to produce 6.4 kcal of beef (Eshel and Martin, 2005), based on research by David and Marcia Pimentel in “Food, Energy, and Society” (Pimentel and Pimentel, 1996). Based on this ratio of 100 kcal of input energy to 6.4 units output in kcal beef, production of 6 oz. of beef requires 7477 kcal of fossil fuel input. The same study found that the average energy efficiency in plant-food production ranges from 100-400%, meaning that production of 478.5 kcal of plant-based food uses between 478.5-119.6 kcal of fossil fuel energy input. Choosing the lowest energy efficiency for plant production from Eshel and Martin’s values, we find that replacing a 6 oz. serving of beef with its kcal equivalent in a vegetarian food saves at least 7477-478.5=6999 kcal, or 8.138 kWh. Thus, replacing beef with plant-food once a week for a year means that 444.9 kWh less electricity from fossil fuels needs to be generated.
Eshel, Gidon; Martin, Pamela A. (2005). Diet, energy, and global warming. Earth Interactions: Vol. 10, No.9. 6-8.
Pimentel, David; Pimentel, Marcia. (1996). Energy use in livestock production. Food, Energy, and Society. D. Pimentel and M. Pimentel, Eds., University Press of Colorado, 77-84.


Energy Action #12:
Beginning with the number 11280kWh, the amount of electricity used by the average American household in a year, we multiply by the fraction of this energy that goes to heating and cooling (0.29+0.17) to get 5188kWh.
According to, if the thermostat is set back for eight hours per day, one percent less energy is used per degree. So 5188kWh*0.01=51.88kWh saved per degree, therefore for an 8 degree adjustment, 415kWh of energy is saved, or 8 percent of all electricity used for heating and cooling in an average household.


Assumptions for Food Waste Actions

#1: We assume that you’ll gain wisdom by tracking your food waste.  Remember, the real impact starts when you ACT on what you’ve learned!  Stay tuned.
#2-12: In this Year of Action we present a total of 11 food waste actions with practical impact.  Since it’s nearly impossible to know how much savings can accrue from any one action, we’ve settled on a different strategy.  We know that in the United States, the average person wastes 1400 kilocalories (food calories) per day, which is a total of 511,000 food calories per year.

Our aim in this campaign is for our members to reduce 25% of that food waste during the course of the year, by taking a total of 11 actions.  If 100 of us take these actions and reduce our food waste by 25% total, it would be enough to feed 7 hungry people in America for a year (assuming 2500 food calories per person per day or 912,500 food calories per person, per year).
With the goal of reducing each participant’s food waste by 25%, we suggest that each of the individual 11 actions will reduce food waste by approximately 2.3%, or 11,614 food calories per action.
Your individual results may vary, but remember, the goal is to take all 11 actions and reduce food waste by 25%!

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