Feature Articles - Housing
ENERGY STAR – What it means to you
Dr. Rebecca J. Travnichek, AFC®, Family Financial Education Specialist, Northwest Region, University of Missouri Extension
You may have seen it and asked yourself: What is ENERGY STAR and how does it affect me? ENERGY STAR is the trusted, government-backed symbol for energy efficiency helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices. It is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The ENERGY STAR label was established to:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants caused by the inefficient use of energy; and
- Make it easy for consumers to identify and purchase energy-efficient products that offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance, features and comfort.
It began as a voluntary program in 1992 with computers and monitors as the first labeled products. Through 1995, EPA expanded the label to additional office equipment products and residential heating and cooling equipment. In 1996, EPA partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy for particular product categories. The ENERGY STAR label is now on major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics and more. EPA has also extended the label to cover new homes and commercial and industrial buildings.
How do products earn the ENERGY STAR label?
Products can earn the ENERGY STAR label by meeting the energy efficiency requirements set forth in ENERGY STAR product specifications. EPA establishes these specifications based on a set of key guiding principles:
- Product categories must contribute significant energy savings nationwide.
- Qualified products must deliver the features and performance demanded by consumers, in addition to increased energy efficiency.
- If the qualified product costs more than a conventional, less-efficient counterpart, purchasers will recover their investment in increased energy efficiency through utility bill savings, within a reasonable period of time.
- Energy efficiency can be achieved through broadly available, non-proprietary technologies offered by more than one manufacturer.
- Product energy consumption and performance can be measured and verified with testing.
- Labeling would effectively differentiate products and be visible for purchasers.
Energy prices have become a hot news topic and a major concern for consumers. ENERGY STAR provides a trustworthy label on over 60 product categories (and thousands of models) for the home and office. These products deliver the same or better performance as comparable models while using less energy which means lower, less costly utility bills. ENERGY STAR also provides easy-to-use home and building assessment tools so that homeowners and building managers can start down the path to greater efficiency and cost savings.
The bottom line is purchasing household and office equipment with the ENERGY STAR label will improve your bottom line.
Last update: Monday, April 16, 2012