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Home --> Politics --> Business --> Al Gore's Energy Use

Al Gore's Energy Use

Claim:   Al Gore's residence uses considerably more energy than the average American home.

Status:   Mixture.

Example:   [Collected February 2007]

Al Gore's Personal Energy Use Is His Own "Inconvenient Truth"

Gore's home uses more than 20 times the national average

Last night, Al Gore's global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee
Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.

Gore's mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).

In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.

The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh - more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh-guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore's average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore's energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore's extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore's mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.

"As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk to walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use," said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.

In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.

Origins:   The above-quoted 2007 report from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR), claiming that Al Gore's Tennessee home uses over 20 times more energy than the average Gore house U.S. home, was released the day after the former vice-president's film about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, won an Academy Award for Best Documentary.

The specific numbers involved were disputable (the TCPR claimed Gore's home uses electricity at a rate more than "20 times the national average," while the Associated Press reported that its own review of bills indicated that the Gores' Nashville household used more than 12 times the average for a typical household in that area), but the basic gist of the claim — that the Gores' Nashville residence consumed a larger proportion of energy than the average American home — was true.

Some important points not covered in the report, however, was whether equating the Gores' home to the average American home was really a relevant comparison. A spokesperson for the Gore family responded by noting some mitigating factors, such as the fact that the Gores' Nashville residence isn't an "average" house — it's about four times larger than the average new American home built in 2006, and it essentially functions as both a residence and a business office since both Al and Tipper work out of their home. The Tennessean also noted that the Gores had been paying a $432 per month premium on their monthly electricity bills in order to obtain some of their electricity from "green" sources (i.e., solar or other renewable energy sources). Other factors (such as the climate in the area where the home is located and its size) make the Gore home's energy usage comparable to that of other homes in the same area.

The former vice-president maintained that comparing raw energy-usage figures is misleading and that he leads what he advocates, a "carbon-neutral lifestyle," by purchasing energy from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and methane gas to balance out the carbon emissions produced in generating the electricity his home uses:
Kalee Kreider, a spokesperson for the Gores, pointed out that both Al and Tipper Gore work out of their home and she argued that "the bottom line is that every family has a different carbon footprint. And what Vice President Gore has asked is for families to calculate that footprint and take steps to reduce and offset it."

A carbon footprint is a calculation of the CO2 fossil fuel emissions each person is responsible for, either directly because of his or her transportation and energy consumption or indirectly because of the manufacture and eventual breakdown of products he or she uses.

The vice president has done that, Kreider argues, and the family tries to offset that carbon footprint by purchasing their power through the local Green Power Switch program — electricity generated through renewable resources such as solar, wind, and methane gas, which create less waste and pollution. "In addition, they are in the midst of installing solar panels on their home, which will enable them to use less power," Kreider added. "They also use compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy efficiency measures and then they purchase offsets for their carbon emissions to bring their carbon footprint down to zero."
Also, by the end of 2007 the Gores completed renovations that made their home much more energy-efficient:
Al Gore, who was criticized for high electric bills at his Tennessee mansion, has completed a host of improvements to make the home more energy efficient, and a building-industry group has praised the house as one of the nation's most environmentally friendly.

The former vice president has installed solar panels, a rainwater-collection system and geothermal heating. He also replaced all incandescent lights with compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode bulbs.

"Short of tearing it down and staring anew, I don't know how it could have been rated any higher," said Kim Shinn of the U.S. Green Building Council, which gave the house its second-highest rating for sustainable design.

Gore's improvements cut the home's summer electrical consumption by 11 percent compared with a year ago, according to utility records reviewed by The Associated Press. Most Nashville homes used 20 percent to 30 percent more electricity during the same period because of a record heat wave.
Last updated:   28 September 2009

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  Sources Sources:
    Cillizza, Chris and Matthew Mosk.   "War on Warming Begins at (Al Gore's) Home."
    The Washington Post.   1 March 2007   (p. A8).

    Hall, Kristin M.   "Group Criticizes Gore's Electricity Use."
    The Boston Globe.   28 February 2007.

    Paine, Anne.   "Gore Gets Heat for His Electric Bills."
    The Tennessean.   26 February 2007.

    Schelzig, Erik.   "Gore Completes Renovations to Tenn. Home."
    San Francisco Chronicle.   14 December 2007.

    Tapper, Jake.   "Al Gore's 'Inconvenient Truth'? — A $30,000 Utility Bill."
    ABC News.   26 February 2007.