Cryptocurrencies found to use more electricity than individual states, countries

Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | September 10, 2021

The cryptocurrency Bitcoin currently uses more energy than countries like Finland, which has a population of 5.5 million.

Bitcoin was invented back in 2009, and 12 years later, one would need a room full of specialized machines to mine a single Bitcoin. The process of mining one takes up 9 years’ worth of a typical U.S. household’s electricity bill. According to a New York Times article, this currency’s network uses the same amount of electricity as the state of Washington. The state has 7.6 million residents. In comparison to the search engine Google, Bitcoin uses seven times as much electricity. Google has several locations across the globe.

While all cryptocurrencies are strictly digital and exist only electronically, Bitcoin is adding to the climate crisis by using power grids and fossil fuels and contributing to harmful emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that nearly all pieces of an electricity system can affect the environment through greenhouse gas emissions and using up water resources to cool down systems and produce steam.

Since cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are inefficient in transactions, they are also inefficient when it comes to the use of electricity. Bitcoin’s energy consumption fluctuates frequently, as its price ebbs and flows. Regardless of the cost of the currency, Bitcoin continues to contribute to excessive energy usage.

Iowans, utility companies conserving less energy after 2018 law

Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | July 9, 2021

Iowans are conserving less energy following the passing of a 2018 law that changed the state’s efficiency requirements.

Senate File 2311 capped spending on utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs in Iowa. The law was passed in the last few days of the 2018 Iowa legislative session with the support of most Republicans in the state House and Senate. The caps were below the amount utilities were already spending on programs. In 2018, the Iowa Environmental Council lobbied against the legislation, saying utility companies were the only winners, as businesses and citizens would “pay the price of this action.” 22 states have energy efficiency resource standards that serve as a target for citizens to meet.

In 2020, two years after the law’s passing, Iowa’s total kilowatt hour savings were more than 300 million lower than in 2018 according to the Energy News Network. The drop is more than 50 percent of the energy savings in Iowa’s recent history. A yearly state energy efficiency scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy dropped Iowa to 36 out of the 50 states. Iowa is beat by some of its midwestern counterparts—like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois—but still placed higher than the Dakotas, and Nebraska. Iowa held 24th place in 2018. 

Iowa legislature considers bill to encourage efficiency in rental units

Older rental properties are often prone to inefficiencies leading to wasted resources and high utility costs (via Creative Commons).

Julia Poska | February 25, 2020

A bill proposed this month in the Iowa House of Representatives would increase transparency around energy efficiency and utility costs in rental units.

The bill, HSB 635, states that landlords of properties containing at least 12 units would need to disclose average utility costs in writing to prospective tenants, prior to issuing a lease.

Properties with low rent are often older and may have structural issues–like leaky windows or dripping pipes— which can lead to wasted resources and higher utility bills for tenants.  The Iowa Environmental Council is encouraging support of the bill, saying it would create incentives for more efficient rental properties.


Iowa ranks #1 for decline in energy efficiency

La energía del Sol
Iowa is using energy less efficiently, according to a recent report (flickr).

Julia Poska | October 25, 2018

Iowa’s energy efficiency policy has seen the greatest decline of all U.S. states in 2018, according to a report released earlier this month.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy pushed Iowa back five spots to #24 on their 2018 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. The scorecard ranks states based on state policies and programs in six areas: utilities, buildings, transportation, state government, combined heat and power, and appliance standards.

The council attributes Iowa’s downfall to a bill passed in April that caps spending on energy efficiency programs by public utilities and allows customers to opt out of a once-obligatory tax towards such programs. Many have criticized Senate File 2311 for increasing Iowa’s carbon footprint and harming its communities overall.

CGRER member Charles Stanier, associate professor of chemical engineering, explained to the Daily Iowan that spending on energy efficiency benefits all by reducing utility bills for private enterprises and taxpayer-supported buildings, like schools.

“So while the average Iowan puts $60 a year into the program, the money is invested in energy efficiency projects with rapid payback [on average], and they see much more than $60 per year of value throughout Iowa’s economy,” he said.

Iowa may have taken major steps backwards, the majority of states are investing more in energy efficiency. The U.S. as a whole spent $8 billion on energy efficiency programs in 2017, generating enough in savings to power 2.5 million homes for a year.

Most improved is New Jersey, who made it’s way to #8 on the scorecard. The worst state overall for energy efficiency is Wyoming, while Massachusetts is #1.

Two Iowa businesses and one school district recognized by EPA for energy efficiency

(Energy Star)
(Energy Star)

Nick Fetty | March 30, 2016

Two Iowa-based businesses and one school district were recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday for energy efficiency in Region 7.

Pella Corporation – a window and door manufacturer based in Pella, Iowa – was one of eight businesses nationwide recognized as a 2016 Energy Star Partner of the Year for Outstanding Achievements in Energy Efficiency. The company is being recognized for manufacturing Energy Star certified products. Additionally, Pella Corporation has partnered with Lawrence Berkeley National Labs – based at the University of California-Berkeley – for developing automated shading technology. The company also sponsored the 2015 Solar Decathlon Education Days to teach students about energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Principal Real Estate Investors was recognized by EPA as a Partner of the Year for Energy Management. The Des Moines-based company was selected for its efforts which reduced energy consumption by 1.8 percent and for achieving 2015 Energy Star certification at 65 buildings, including 60 re-certifications. Principal also received an “A” rating on the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investing annual survey.

Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) was recognized as an Energy Star Partner of the Year in Sustained Excellence for energy efficient facilities and educational efforts. Three new DMPS buildings achieved Energy Star status in 2015, bringing the grand total of Energy Star-certified buildings district-wide to 49. DMPS has saved more than $2 million since first implementing its energy management approach in 2008. DMPS is the largest school district in Iowa, serving more than 32,000 students.

Principal and DMPS were both honored as part of a joint effort between EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Awards will be presented to recipients during a ceremony in Washington D.C. on April 13.

On the Radio: New energy efficiency standards for refrigerators

A woman grabs groceries from her refrigerator. (Illustration: Michelle Tribe / Creative Commons)
A woman grabs groceries from her refrigerator. (Illustration: Michelle Tribe / Creative Commons)

November 17, 2014

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at new standards for refrigerators which could reduce energy consumption by up to 25 percent. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Refrigerator standards

New energy efficiency standards that went into place for refrigerators in September are expected to save customers on utility bills while also reducing their carbon footprint.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

The Department of Energy estimates that the standards will reduce refrigerator energy consumption by 20 to 25 percent. This is expected to save households up to 200 dollars on electricity bills annually. This is the first update to energy standards for refrigerators since 2001.

Long-term estimates from the Department of Energy show that over the next 30 years the new standards will reduce national energy consumption the equivalent of five percent of total energy used in the U.S. in a single year. It is also estimated to reduce carbon emissions by 344 million tons during the same period.

For more information about the new refrigerator standards and appliance rebates from Iowa utility companies, visit

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.

“Iowa seems to have become a state of extremes”

Photo by deckhand; Flickr


Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research director, Gregory Charmichael and CGRER member Eugene Tackle are calling on Iowa to lead the way in sustainability and energy efficiency.

Iowa’s extreme variations of weather in the past few years are solid reflections of the effects of global climate change.

Even with the losses experienced, Iowa has a chance to lead the nation in changing the way we react to climate change, and to build a more sustainable economy.

To learn more, follow the link to their piece in the Des Moines Register and get in on the discussion!

Take Iowa Energy Center’s home energy digital tour

Wrapping a water heater can save energy and money. Photo by CERTs, Flickr.
Wrapping a water heater can save energy and money. Photo by CERTs, Flickr.

The Iowa Energy Center’s website now features an interactive “home energy tour”.

The digital tour shows various ways homeowners can save energy and money. It covers heating, cooling, insulation, appliances and water heating.

Take the tour here.

How UI conserves energy

University of Iowa's Old Capitol building. Photo by Sean_Marshall, Flickr.
University of Iowa’s Old Capitol building. Photo by Sean_Marshall, Flickr.

Two years ago, the University of Iowa opened their new Energy Control Center. This state-of-the-art facility allows engineers to monitor UI’s energy output and quickly address any unusual activity.

The Energy Control Center saves the university more than $500,000 each year.

Read more about the Energy Control Center and other energy efficiency measures at the University of Iowa here.

View real-time energy consumption around campus here.

UI students go door-to-door to make homes more energy efficient

Photo by Chewonki Semester School, Flickr.

A group of University of Iowa students are going door-to-door in Iowa City offering to help homeowners and businesses become more energy efficient.

This effort is part of the Our Power program through the Iowa City Summer of Solutions nonprofit group.

The students perform small repairs in the homes and businesses that will reduce energy use and save money.

Through this program, the students have helped more than 100 homeowners become more energy efficient.

Read more here.