Search
Blog Post

Earth Day at ACEEE: Staff Roundtable

April 21, 2021
facebooktwitterlinkedInemail

When they’re not conducting research or advocating for energy policy, ACEEE staff are bringing energy conservation and a passion for the environment into their personal lives. For tomorrow’s celebration of Earth Day 2021, we asked staff members what drew them to energy policy work, what efficiency means to them, and how they’ve changed their own energy use since starting at ACEEE.

 

Naomi Baum, chief operating officer

What is your favorite energy-efficient item in your home?

I have a new high-efficiency washing machine and I love it. In addition to using less water, it has extra spin cycles so everything dries faster, making it easier to hang clothes to dry. Skipping the dryer saves energy and is gentler on my clothes.   

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned working at ACEEE? 

I have learned all kinds of interesting things—how to drive more efficiently, heat and cool my home more efficiently, wash dishes more efficiently, etc. One surprise to me: I didn’t understand that ceiling fans don’t cool down a room. They just make you feel cooler, so there is no point in keeping them on if you aren’t in the room.

 

Mariel Wolfson, editor

What first got you interested in energy efficiency work?

When I was writing my dissertation, I learned that the push for energy-efficient homes in the 1970s played a huge role in the “discovery” of indoor air pollution in the 1980s. Then I became very interested in energy-efficient buildings and energy efficiency in general. Being energy efficient is a no-brainer!

Tell us one small way that you’re becoming more energy efficient.

I’ve been doing all my laundry in cold water for the last year, and I don’t notice any difference from warm or hot water.

 

Carolin Tolentino, Roger Arliner Young clean energy fellow

Carolin Tolentino

What first got you interested in energy efficiency work?

My first internship with Urban Green Council, where I helped with their energy code courses and got to audit one myself. That summer, I also went to a Passive House conference and found the houses super cool and innovative. It’s my dream to live in one someday!

What is one thing that our readers can do within the next 24 hours to reduce energy use in their own lives?

Unplug appliances that aren’t being used. It becomes routine pretty quickly and can save hundreds in utility bills.

 

Lowell Ungar, director of the federal policy program

Lowell Ungar Headshot

What is your favorite energy-efficient item in your home?

My clothes drying rack—it uses no energy. Same for the dish rack and for opening windows when the weather is good. But my ground-source heat pump also keeps energy bills under $60 all year round.

What first got you interested in energy efficiency work?

When thinking about how I could make a difference on air pollution and global warming, it seemed like energy efficiency was having a big impact but was barely on the policy radar in Washington, D.C.

 

Wendy Koch, senior director of marketing and communications

Wendy Koch Headshot

What is your favorite energy-efficient item in your home?

My ceiling fans. We have one in every major room, and they reduce our use of air conditioning. If you buy one with a light, make sure it’s ENERGY STAR®-certified and uses an LED.

Tell us something we might not know about your background in energy work.

I got started in this field because my family wanted to move from what my husband called our BAH (big a— house). We ended up building a right-sized, energy-efficient home in a walkable neighborhood. I was a USA TODAY journalist at the time and blogged about the experience.

 

Reuven Sussman, director of the behavior and human dimensions program

Reuven Sussman Headshot

What is your favorite fun fact about energy efficiency?

Even though energy efficiency can save folks money, sometimes the most convincing reasons to install energy upgrades are health and comfort. The most environmentally impactful actions are often done for non-environmental reasons.

What is one thing that our readers can do within the next 24 hours to reduce energy use in their own lives?

I think the best thing people can do is sign up to volunteer with an environmental organization. This is a great gateway to making larger changes in society and in one’s own life—and it’s fun! Working together, people can have more influence than individually, and with shared accountability, they also feel more motivated to follow through with their own energy efficiency goals.

 

Sagarika Subramanian, researcher for the state policy program

Sagarika Subramanian Headshot

Tell us one small way that you’re becoming more energy efficient.

As we approach the summer, I’ve started to cook recipes that don’t require using the oven, which saves energy and avoids higher room temperatures.

What is your favorite fun fact about energy efficiency (or your area of research)?

My recent work on intelligent efficiency has demonstrated the enormous potential that smart technologies have to reduce energy use among a variety of sectors. For example, ACEEE analysis shows that smart technologies could reduce energy use by up to 18% in commercial buildings. One day I hope to own a smart thermostat to optimize my energy use, cut down on energy costs, and finally participate in a demand response program!

 

Nora Wang Esram, senior director for research

Nora Wang Esram

What is one thing that our readers can do within the next 24 hours to reduce energy use in their own lives?

I always feel guilty about yelling at Alexa to turn on/off lights. One Google search is equal to turning on a 60W light bulb for 17 seconds. Whether carbon offsets are enough to qualify the information and communications technology industry as environmentally friendly remains a topic of debate. I am NOT suggesting we go back to the pre-Internet era, but we should certainly reduce mindless internet browsing and teach our kids what a light switch is. The non-energy benefits are that you burn more calories and enjoy your life better.

 

 

 

 

© 2021 All rights reserved.