Have you ever shopped for kitchen appliances and wondered what the energy-star rating means? Or shopped for a washer and dryer and wondered, how do I know which one of these to buy? Which one of these products is going to save me money down the line? Or which one of these products is the gentlest on our environment?
I bet you have, I know I have. So, I researched it and found out, and over the years, I’ve found the Energy-Star label quite useful when trying to purchase different products I have needed for my home. These labels have helped me answer my questions and then some, so it is my hope that this article will help you understand the Energy-Star and that it too will help you answer your questions as well.
What is Energy-Star
Energy efficiency is the goal that helps us decrease the energy required to produce a product in the most environmentally safe way while also using less money to do it. Energy-Star is the symbol, or label rather, that is used to tell consumers that a product is energy-efficient. Participation in the program is voluntary. These labels have been placed on all sorts of products, and it looks like the blue and white image below:
Origins of Energy-Star
Starting in 1992, in an effort to save money while using less energy in their homes, the United States federal government decided to implement a voluntary program that helps consumers identify energy-efficient products. The Energy-Star symbol was then “born”.
The main aim of the Energy-Star symbol, according to www.energystar.gov, was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and various other pollutants that industries and manufacturing plants create through the inefficient use of energy. At the same time, the government wanted to create a way that consumers could easily identify and buy energy-efficient products. They wanted to do this in a way that still saved the consumers money without sacrificing any of the value offered from the product in terms of features and comforts.
Since this time, other countries, seeing the great benefit to consumers pockets and the environment, have quickly adopted the label as well. The label has become an invaluable tool in helping consumers make informed decisions when purchasing greener products as it has helped simplify the purchasing process of the most green, energy-efficient products out there.
How to Read the Energy-Star Label
Not all Energy Guide product stats looks the same, but they’re set up similarly. Often times, the Energy Star logo is accompanied by the energy efficiency stats of that particular product. Like this one that was created for a central air conditioner:
Regardless of what the yellow Energy Guide for that product looks like, you can find all the same basic information on them. In this one, the top right side shows the manufacturing company along with the make and model. On the top left side is the type of product with its key feature. Then you’ll see how much energy this particular product uses in a year, along with a range of how this product compares to other models. Then you’ll see an *estimate of how much electricity this product will use in a given year. If you see the blue Energy Star logo next to this yellow Energy Guide, that means this product is more energy efficient, which means it’s a greener option for the environment.
Keep in mind, having an Energy-Star label does not necessarily mean it’s the most greenest option out there, it means, considering all important factors to the consumer, this is where this particular product stands in terms of energy efficiency. All products with the blue and white Energy Star label are greener options than the regular counterparts on a scale from the least green to most green, but clearly, some will score better than others.
Criteria for Earning the Energy-Star Label
In order for a product to earn the energy-star label, it has to pass certain energy-efficiency requirements. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is the group responsible for determining those requirements.
One of the requirement specifications the EPA scrutinizes is whether the product saves a considerable amount of energy no matter where one is in the nation. Also, the product has to give the consumer the features, performance, and value that the consumers desire.
If the product costs more money than the normal, conventional, less energy efficient product of comparable nature costs, then the product must offset the cost by providing increased energy efficiency and savings in utility bills within a reasonable time frame. The energy consumption of the product and product performance must be tested, measured and verified. These products must then be labeled clearly so consumers can compare the energy usages and savings of various products.
How Does the Energy Star Label Help the Environment?
Most manufacturing companies rely on burning fossil fuels for energy. When fossil fuels are burned for energy, greenhouse gasses are created and fill our atmosphere. Greenhouse gases have contributed to global warming, a loss of good ozone, and a proliferation of bad ozone. Fossil fuels are not a renewable resource, so the less we use of them, the more non-renewable energy we conserve.
Will the Criteria Ever Change?
According to energystar.gov, the Criteria for earning the Energy-Star label may lead to revisions of the required specifications if they find a market share of 50% or higher of energy-star labeled products within a certain category. However, this isn’t the only reason for a possible change in the required specifications.
If the government enacts a change in the federal efficiency standards, then that too may prompt revisions within the required specifications. Sometimes an Energy-Star revision is prompted by technology advances that would provide more savings to consumers if the specifications were altered, so a revision would take effect in these cases. And lastly, some other reasons the EPA might revise the specifications would be product performance issues, product quality issues, issues with testing procedures, and/or considerable issues where consumers realize significant energy savings.
What Types of Products Carry the Energy-Star Label?
All types of products may carry the energy-star label including but not limited to: air purifiers, personal clothes dryers, personal clothes washers, commercial washers, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, freezers, refrigerators, residential windows, residential doors, residential skylights, roof products, seal and insulates, storm windows, commercial dishwashers, commercial fryers, commercial griddles, commercial hot food holding cabinets, commercial ice makers, commercial ovens, commercial freezers, commercial refrigerators, commercial steam cookers, light fixtures, decorative light strings, light bulbs, ceiling fans, ventilation fans, smart thermostats, room air conditioners, light commercial heating and cooling, geothermal heat pumps, furnaces, ductless heating and cooling, commercial boilers, regular boilers, central air conditioners, air-source heat pumps, televisions, telephones, slates and tablets, signage displays, set-top boxes, digital media players, audio / video, computers, data center storage, enterprise servers, imaging equipment, large network equipment, small network equipment, monitors, uninterruptible power supplies, voice over internet protocol phones ( VoIP ), electric vehicle supply equipment ( EVSE ), laboratory grade refrigerators, laboratory grade freezers, pool pumps, vending machines, water coolers, commercial water heaters, heat pump water heaters, high efficiency gas storage heaters, solar water heaters, whole home tankless gas water heaters, homes, buildings and plants, more.
As you can see, the Energy-Star label is used for many things, probably many that you never thought of or was even aware of. A lot of these products are used by green living home builders. In addition to the Energy-Star label, other energy efficient labels one might see when building green living homes, are labels that signify renewable energy was used, or zero energy was used. For example, renewable energy ready homes ( RERH ), and zero energy ready homes ( ZERH ). These labels provide a whole new layer of energy conservation, efficiency, and savings for consumers.
The Energy-Star label has helped consumers tremendously. It has given consumers an easy to use guide, directly on the product package, easy to identify and then compare with other energy efficient products of similar before deciding on which products would best suit their homes. These energy specifications have helped consumers decide which products deliver the best product performances, which products have the best desired personal preference in features and performance, all while also providing a more efficient use of energy and knowledge of financial savings.
The Energy-Star label has helped businesses, industries, and manufacturing companies as well. It has helped them by giving them product specifications to work towards or to improve on. It also helps give these companies an edge in marketing, and the green living sector.
Best of all, the Energy-Star label can potentially provide a way to keep businesses, industries, and manufacturing companies accountable that’s built right into the EPA guidelines. The Energy-Star also gives these companies something to be proud of as the global world becomes more environmentally aware. The more companies that get on board with finding energy efficient ways of creating products and doing work, the better our world will be.
Energy-Star is a step in the right direction as it gains popularity and familiarity within homes and businesses. It helps us strive toward creating healthier, greener products and practices, and we should all strive towards replacing old non-energy efficient products and practices with better greener ones.
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