Appliance Stores Look To Energy Efficiency

Takoma Park, Md.-based Appliance Distributors Unlimited is one of the largest dealers of home appliances in the metropolitan Washington area. It has taken steps to permanently reduce its energy use. It's moving to energy-efficient lighting, recycling and other steps.

LIBBY LEWIS: I'm Libby Lewis. I'm in Takoma Park, Maryland. I'm here at the showroom of Appliance Distributors Unlimited. More buyers are turning to energy saving appliances to wash and dry their clothes, chill their food and heat their water. ADU, as it's called, is catering to those customers.

Ed Janeski runs this showroom.

Mr. ED JANESKI (Showroom Manager, Appliance Distributors Unlimited): Manufacturers are - they're jumping to the gun. And as I flip through this little catalogue here, you'll see Energy Star, Energy Star. And it's so important to me that they put that blue label on almost everything they're making.

LEWIS: That label guarantees an appliance meets strict energy efficiency standards set by the government, and it lets consumers know how much they'll pay and save in energy costs with that dishwasher or washer drier.

Energy Star appliances are growing in popularity as energy prices have gone up. One in three American households bought an Energy Star product last year. ADU doesn't just sell energy-smart appliances, it's taken steps to permanently reduce its energy use.

Janeski says the company is moving to energy-efficient lighting and recycling and more.

Mr. JANESKI: In all our locations, we've put a programmable thermostat here to cut off the heat or air conditioning during our off hours.

LEWIS: It's just one way this appliance store, like the cruise lines and airlines, the newspaper delivery man, and countless other businesses, will be saving energy and money for years to come.

Libby Lewis, NPR News.

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Rising Oil Prices Goad Industries To Conserve

An MD-80 aircraft sits on the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. i

An MD-80 aircraft sits on the tarmac at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. American Airlines is retiring this fleet. Rick Gershon/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Rick Gershon/Getty Images
An MD-80 aircraft sits on the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

An MD-80 aircraft sits on the tarmac at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. American Airlines is retiring this fleet.

Rick Gershon/Getty Images

After a brief respite, oil prices are moving higher again. The price per barrel rose more than $5 Thursday, closing at just over $121.

The months and months of high prices have provided more than enough incentive for American businesses — from airlines to cruise lines to newspapers — to invest in long-term energy saving measures.

Airlines Replace Planes

The airline industry will spend more than $61 billion on fuel this year. With a bill like that, there's little wonder that carriers are taking steps to cut energy costs.

American Airlines, the world's largest, is changing the planes it flies.

It's quickly retiring the workhorse of its fleet: the MD-80. Many MD-80s are nearly 20 years old, and they burn lots of fuel. American is replacing them with new Boeing 737s, which are about 25 percent more fuel efficient, according to the airline.

Cruise Lines Adjust Times

Cruise lines are dipping their oars in those waters as well.

In Miami, Royal Caribbean says it's turning off air conditioners, changing light bulbs and taking other commonsense steps to reduce its $772 million fuel bill.

It's also adjusting arrival and departure times to allow ships to reduce sailing speeds and conserve. These are some steps that are unique to the cruise business.

Royal Caribbean is using a new kind of paint that keeps ship hulls clean.

"Marine growth is what really creates ... resistance in the water," says John Krousouloudis of Royal's Celebrity Cruise Lines. "And that drives up [our] fuel bill."

Newspapers Consolidate Deliveries

On a much smaller scale, independent businesses are making changes to cut their fuel bills.

In Nashville, Tenn., newspaper deliveryman Frank Saracino says he's doing some of his routes on Sundays and evenings to avoid wasting gas in traffic.

He's also consolidating deliveries, and sharing work with his competitors.

"I will work with another driver," Saracino says. "He'll run some of my stuff and I will run some of his stuff."

And he's not the only one. Nationwide, more than 40 percent of papers now collaborate with a competitor on delivery.

Energy-Efficient Appliances Sell Fast

With all of the focus on reducing energy use, energy-efficient appliances are selling fast at stores around the country.

At Appliance Distributors Unlimited just outside Washington, D.C., showroom manager Ed Janeski says his catalogs are filled with products featuring the little blue "energy star" sticker.

And his store is getting in on the act itself. It has installed programmable thermostats to cut off the air conditioning or heat during off hours.

Reported by Wade Goodwyn, Greg Allen, Audie Cornish and Libby Lewis.

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