by Michael dEstries
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gore house

Last year, just as Al Gore was enjoying his Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth, a little group called the Tennessee Center for Policy Research released a report slamming the former Vice-President on his home energy consumption. It was later revealed that the organization may have inflated its numbers and was highly connected and funded by a large number of anti-environmental groups and individuals. Needless to say, their timing and background clearly challenged the “independent” and “non-partisan” claims in their releases. 

In the time since the report, real information on Gore’s energy consumption has come to light — including reasons for not installing solar and other renewable sources of energy sooner due to local zoning laws. In November 2007, the Gore’s completed a three-year green renovation (33 solar panels, a geothermal system, LED lighting, etc.) of their 80-year-old home that received received Gold LEED (Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design) Certification from the US Green Building Council.

Now, that same Tennessee group is claiming that Gore’s energy consumption increased by 10%. According to Gore’s spokesperson Kalee Kreider, coupled with the green renovations, the family actually decreased their electricity and natural gas bills by 40% in 2008. Since TCRP is being vague as to when their numbers were calculated, we’re not really getting a fair view of the big picture here — which, obviously, is not a big surprise. 

Some other facts to consider: the Gores participate in the Green Power Switch program (offered through their local utility) which allows them to purchase power generated through solar, wind and methane gas—that means that the utility certified that although they are paying a bit more for their power—it is green power.  This isn’t an offset, it is a green power purchase. 

Additionally, the Gore’s completed their green renovations at the same time that everyone else in the region was experiencing an up-tick in energy consumption due to drought and high temperatures. Would make sense, if TCRP is looking at data before renovations, that such percentages would be in line with everyone else in the area. But, don’t expect them to admit as much. 

After all, they’ve got an independent, non-partisan agenda to push.  

[UPDATE] Turns out, Gore’s energy consumption is actually down for 2007. Nice work, TCPR! 

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

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  • Uncle B

    Gore’s house seems a bit extravagant and I bet Al’s shorts smell just about the same as yours or mine after a hard day, but his works for the environment are no less valid by this are they!

  • TT

    Yes, their Math is indeed off. In their article last year on February 26, 2007(http://www.tennesseepolicy.org/main/ article.php?article_id=367) the Tennessee Center For Policy and Research stated that Al Gore’s house had used 221,000 kWh. Their most recent post on this (http://www.tennesseepolicy.org/main/article.php? article_id=764) on June 18, 2008 says that Al Gore’s house used 213,000 kWh of electricity.

    How is this a 10% increase? He used less not more. Granted he still is using a lot of electricity. But how much of the total is from solar, wind and other renewables that he claims to buy from? If, hypothetically speaking, all his energy was from renewables, it would be carbon neutral and the total amount of electricity would not be as important from a carbon stand point. (but yes he does push the conservation end as well and should follow it as much as possible himself)

    I also understand that they probably do many functions at their house (catering for dozens or hundreds??) with many people and foreign big wigs and security details and so forth. I think it is not quite apples-to-apples to compare his house to the average person’s house.

    TCPR should use a calculator and adopt objectivity if they ever want to be taken seriously.

  • Mark G

    Oh when the environmental groups use pumped up numbers in order to get more funding is it just as shocking?

    Greenpeace and Sierra Club both are notorious for using exagerrated figures and scare tactics to receive more and more grant money.

  • Brook

    Al Gore lives a few miles from me, so I can speak with authority here. First, his geothermal unit installation required the destruction of over a dozen old growth trees that were absorbing carbon from the air, so we have to add them to the mix. He just added a thousand years of carbon stored in these trees to the atmosphere to install this system.

    Second, these units are astronomically expensive and only the wealthy can afford them. The savings in your heating bill would take 20 years or more to realize.

    Third, Al Gore only took these measures in response to criticism. It seems to me, a man who believes the Earth is on the verge of a crisis due to our activities would be much more vigilant in reducing his own footprint. How many of us would trust a church pastor that visits a brothel every Sat night, before his Sunday sermon? At some point, you have to question if he really belives this!!!

    Fourth, Tipper drives a gas-guzzling muscle car. FYI

  • Rose Monzas

    Hi Michael, I love your site, but beg to differ on your conclusions regarding Al Gore and his environmental efforts. Reducing ones energy footprint is a worthy cause, but the amount of energy a person like Al Gore uses borders on the insane… several houses, all heated, cooled, refrigerators running, security systems! Give me a break… how many appliances does one person need? He did some good things… and I do respect the man… but sometimes you have to wonder!

  • http://ooyes.net website design

    Now, that same Tennessee group is claiming that Gore s energy consumption increased by 10%. According to Gore s spokesperson Kalee Kreider, coupled with the green renovations, the family actually decreased their electricity and natural gas bills by 40% in 2008. Since TCRP is being vague as to when their numbers were calculated, we re not really getting a fair view of the big picture here — which, obviously, is not a big surprise.

  • Contfrk

    According to YOUR article:

    “According to Gore’s spokesperson Kalee Kreider, coupled with the green renovations, the family actually decreased their electricity and natural gas bills by 40% in 2008.”

    Then how is this possible:

    “the utility certified that although they are paying a bit more for their power—it is green power”

    I presume you know how dishonest you look with such stupidity!!!

  • Willy

    Seriously? You people can’t get over your Messiah being a hypocrite after all this time? Let me guess, you also ignore current figures that say the Earth’s warming trend is pretty much over? Are you also ignoring research to indicate solar irradiation and volcanic activity have FAR more to do with global temperatures than the level of ANY atmospheric gas? Get over it. Global warming is a scam. Al Gore is an idiot who just happened to have a great idea to get even richer, and meanwhile, real environmental issues get completely ignored in favor of political BS. Awesome.

  • http://www.ecorazzi.com michael

    First off, I’m always in favor of reduced energy consumption. I mentioned it before when this story was around last year, and I’ll say it again here.

    I firmly believe that Gore’s ‘mansion’ will forever haunt him as long as he owns the place — regardless of how ‘green’ it is. That being said, this is an attack and TCPR is being unfair in their ‘objective’ look at Gore’s residence. Invariably, this attack then somehow demerits the topic of climate change — which just makes no sense and further hold back public opinion on address environmental issues — all because of some guy’s house.

    So, let’s review a few points:

    For Contfrk, you’re misinterpreting the statements. According to Gore’s spokesperson, it’s true that since renovations were completed in November 2007, energy consumption has been reduced by 40%. In terms of the green power program that Gore subscribes to, it costs MORE (since renewable energy is still in its infancy) per KWh than conventional sources. So, when a group like TCPR says that Gore’s energy bills in terms of dollars are SO much more than the average American’s, part of this reason is because he’s paying more per KWh than the majority of the nation not participating in such plans. I apologize if this wasn’t clearer above.

    For MarkG: I see this as a bit different. Organizations rounding off numbers to increase funding is one thing, but when you’re attacking a single person and using numbers from their utility bills to justify a point, you probably don’t want to float the values — especially when you’re headline is dealing with something in the range of 10%.

    Here’s the breakdown of Gore’s energy use: heating is now 90% Geothermal, 10% Natural Gas. The electricity is 4% solar, and 96% renewable from the local utility company.

    Will this group report is numbers next year? Doubtful. Unless the headline is something like “Al Gore Increases Consumption Of Renewable Energy.”

  • bnL

    So Al Gore lowered his bills over 2007 year form the 2006 year, but please take into account that he wasn’t living there (nor was his family) for a large part of years 2006 & 2007. Much of the energy consumed in both of those years was for the renovations. Also it should be noted that the time the Gore’s spent in the house in 2007 and renovations done in 2007 was significantly less than in 2006, so in proportion his consumption was up by 10%. All that being said he should as a responsible advocate of environmental issues considered a small carbon footprint, before the purchase of offset credits. This seems like a very Bushlike tactic, except he would not purchase the credits, he would propose adding resources to ANWR by adding iron pumps and pipelines!

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  • S. Klassen

    Very good…if you can’t refute the facts, blame it on the extreme right. Even if you were right,and your probably not, here’s a great example of the upper class leaving an enormous footprint and using his wealth to “buy credits.” Of course the middle and lower classes don’t have that option; for them it’s, “Pardon me for breathing!” What a joke!

  • 75fxe

    Remember when President C sent Mr G to Turkish Conference as our Environmental Rep? He ranted about thirsty cars, meanwhile using a fleet of the largest SUVs at home. I heard the comment attributed to him at that conference: “We’ve got to get the people out of their cars-it gives them too much independence”. Wasn’t there so can’t personaly verify the comment, but certainly seems in character. We need to shepherd our environment, but I fear Mr. Gore is not the Guru needed, he is too easily discounted by his own actions. By the way, whose smog-belching ‘57 DeSoto is causing the polar melting on all the planets from Mars through Neptune?

  • Phil Bickel

    The picture of Al’s house is misleading. A aerial shot that is on the net, shows it to be three times larger than it appears in this picture with an enormous pool, which is heated.

    I live in a 1700 square foot ranch. I am the one who will pay for his Cap & Rape scheme.

    He will not debate his position and uses photoshop and selective statistics in his prsentations.

    He is a fraud and a oligarchist. The super rich are trying to bar the door to success by beating dwon the middle class.

    It’s time we do not stand for this fraud anylonger.

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