The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the Energy Star program in 1992 to protect the environment through energy efficient products and procedures. In order to receive an Energy Star rating, products falling under 50 home and office categories must meet strict energy conservation guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy, which partnered with the EPA on Energy Star in 1996.
The first Energy Star labeled products were computers and monitors, but this line quickly expanded to include printers, fax machines, residential appliances and fixtures, windows, and even new homes and buildings. According to Energy Star, Americans saved enough on Energy Star products in 2006 alone to save $14 billion on utility bills and avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that released by 25 million cars.
In addition to providing a rating system, Energy Star helps organizations and consumers practice informed decisions, delivering technical information and tools through more than 9,000 partnerships in the public and private sector. Energy Star’s efforts have led to more widespread use of LED traffic lights, efficient fluorescent lighting, energy management systems for office equipment, and low standby energy use.
Consumers can look for the Energy Star label when shopping for a new home or searching for new home products, such as refrigerators, dishwaters, and home heating systems. The label will show the product’s typical yearly energy usage. Examples of Energy Star labeled products include full-sized dishwashers that conserve 493 gallons of water per year and washing machines that save over 12,000 gallons of water per year. Appliances with the Energy Star rating average 10 to 20 percent higher energy efficiency than their non-rated counterparts. Items labeled “Energy Efficient” may have low energy emissions without meeting the standards to be rated as an Energy Star product.
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