What is Energy Star and how does it save you money?

Use less electricity It’s good for the environment, and it’s good for your wallet when those utility bills roll over. The next time you buy a computer, refrigerator, or TV, you might see a energy star logo on the side of the device and think, “I think this is a good sign, but what exactly does it mean?”

The Energy Star program is administered by the United States government, under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency. Curious about the meaning of that little blue sticker, I met Katharine Kaplan, who is a product development manager at Energy Star and has been with the EPA for over a decade. To help you better understand Energy Star, we’ve discussed the program’s history and mission, and how it can help you save money.

The Green light program from 1991 was the predecessor of Energy Star and mainly focused on the energy consumption of incandescent lamps. The government launched Energy Star a year later to electricity guzzling computers and CRT monitors that were used by more and more office workers at the time. The program came about through the Clean Air Act, which “mandated the EPA to use non-regulatory approaches to reduce pollution,” says Kaplan.

Why would the government decide to try a non-regulatory approach in addition to product regulation? Let’s compare the government to a teacher in a classroom. Sure, you need to have disciplinary action for the problem students, but you also want to have incentives for your best students: pizza parties, extra breaks, shiny stickers.

“When we set our Energy Star requirements, we aim for the top 25 percent of products on the market. Of course we are a market transformation program,” says Kaplan. “So that means we’ve set the bar, and then, thanks to a lot of innovation from manufacturers, the bar has to be raised.”

Okay, that makes sense, although we may be getting a little ahead of things. What is doing that sticker means? It essentially identifies products that consume less energy than comparable devices. Efficiency is the name of the game, and Kaplan states that it requires no compromise on quality. “You get the features and functionality you want,” she explains. Energy Star has several commercial initiatives for companies; this explanation highlights the consumer side of things.

So back to those stickers. When shopping for home appliances, you may also encounter large yellow labels on certain items. These labels are from Energy Guide, a program run by the Federal Trade Commission, not the EPA. An Energy Star sticker indicates the best in class, while an EnergyGuide tag helps you understand at a glance how much energy a product consumes approximately in a year.

Energy Star certifies the best appliances and includes a wide range of products. While refrigerators and washing machines are obvious energy guzzlers, there is a recent addition to households that can be overlooked.

“Air purifiers,” says Kaplan, “run for much of the day and can use as much energy as a refrigerator. Some are small products, so you would never think that this is a major energy consumer.” The Energy Star website includes a guide to help you choose a energy efficient air purification system

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *