ENERGY STAR helps businesses and individuals protect our environment and climate while saving us money.
As the most trusted symbol for energy efficiency, ENERGY STAR is backed by the U.S. Government as a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program.
But what does ENERGY STAR mean exactly, and what is an ENERGY STAR rating?
As the ENERGY STAR program was developed in 1992 by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to promote and identify products that are the most energy-efficient, the program has gone through many stages and provides assistance in a number of ways.
In this article, we’ll outline everything you need to know about ENERGY STAR and how this incredible and forward-thinking program can help you, your business, and of course, the environment.
Purpose of ENERGY STAR
Since the beginning of ENERGY STAR as a program, the US government has paired with other industry members to expand the scope of ENERGY STAR so that it reaches not only appliances but buildings and homes.
This is to promote the program so that it includes a wide range of products.
Promoting the ENERGY STAR program allows businesses and individuals to save energy on more appliances, creating a world filled with eco-friendly, budget-friendly and energy-efficient buildings and products of every kind.
It has also led to many advances in technologies, such as LCD lighting and stand-by product add-ons.
Development and research are still ongoing, helping manufacturers create more low-cost, low-energy products.
Are ENERGY STAR Products High-Quality?
While a product or appliance that holds the ENERGY STAR label or qualification is not necessarily a better product, it does meet strict energy guidelines.
This is because ENERGY STAR sets the highest standards in terms of energy efficiency and in order to qualify for the label, the product must meet these standards.
However, in order to earn an ENERGY STAR label, the product must follow strict guidelines for performance and key features as well.
If you’re looking for quality, yes, ENERGY STAR does provide quality items as well. However, their main focus is providing a guide towards the most energy-efficient products and appliances first and foremost.
Appliances that hold the ENERGY STAR rating are 10-20 percent more energy-efficient than models that aren’t rated or labeled.
This means that you’ll not only be saving money by choosing an appliance with an ENERGY STAR rating, but you’ll also be able to gain from other energy savings.
So, if you’re looking to save money and help the environment, keep your eye out for the ENERGY STAR rating along with other bits of energy efficiency information.
The ENERGY STAR Label
The ENERGY STAR label was used to reduce pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions which are directly caused by inefficient energy use.
It’s also used to help customers identify and choose the energy-efficient products that provide savings on bills without giving up features, performance and comfort.
How Do Products Earn the ENERGY STAR Label?
Products on the market can earn this prestigious level by reaching energy efficiency requirements that are created through ENERGY STAR specifications.
The EPA helps establish these specifications based on these
- Products must add to energy savings nationwide in a significant manner
- Products must offer features and performance that customers demand, along with increased energy efficiency
- If the certified product is more expensive than the less-efficient competitor, customers will gain their investment back in energy efficiency when it comes to utility bill savings, within a certain period of time that’s considered “reasonable”
- The energy performance and consumption of the product can be determined and verified through testing
When are Specifications Revised?
Existing ENERGY STAR specifications are revised regularly so they stay relevant under current market conditions. There are a number of factors that contribute to the decision:
- A change in terms of the standard of Federal minimum efficiency
- Tech changes along with advances in energy efficiency, allowing an ENERGY STAR specification revision
- Availability of the product
- A significant amount of issues dealing with customers and their expected energy savings
- Quality or performance issues
- Test procedure issues
Check out the ENERGY STAR website for more information on specification revisions.
ENERGY STAR for Organizations and Businesses
ENERGY STAR resources and tools offer businesses a cost-effective approach to energy use management in their plants and buildings.
This enables the private sector to increase profits, save energy and boost their overall competitiveness.
Thousands of businesses and organizations of all shapes and sizes look to ENERGY STAR as a guide for energy management.
ENERGY STAR provides a popular and user-friendly online tool, the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®, which is used to track and measure energy use and performance for hundreds of thousands of businesses and their corresponding buildings across the country.
For buildings that are eligible for this tool, it calculates an ENERGY STAR score, which has now become the standard for rating energy performance in a specific facility.
ENERGY STAR for Homes
What does ENERGY STAR mean for individual homes across the nation?
ENERGY STAR-certified homes are 10% more energy efficient in comparison to homes built according to code. They also provide homeowners with better performance, quality, and comfort.
Homebuyers are provided with more energy-efficient home choices than ever: almost 90 percent of the country’s largest homebuilders construct ENERGY STAR Certified New Homes, which helps bring the total amount of ENERGY STAR homes to 1.9 million as of 2017.
For a new home to gain an ENERGY STAR rating, it must go through a list of inspections and testing, as well as a verification that meets strict federal standards and requirements.
According to ENERGY STAR, new homes that are built with an ENERGY STAR rating use 15-30 percent less energy compared to new homes that are built without a certification.
ENERGY STAR and Our Economy
ENERGY STAR provides economic development, better competitiveness, and a cleaner, healthier environment for all.
Products, buildings, homes, and plants that are ENERGY STAR-certified have saved American families and businesses over $30 billion on energy costs and almost 400 billion kWh of electricity in 2016.
By boosting energy efficiency, ENERGY STAR supports the U.S. energy security by improving electricity grid reliability.
Moreover, the U.S. Energy and Employment Report for 2016 projected that employment in energy efficiency will be growing a lot faster than in other energy sectors. ENERGY STAR is a vital part of this market.
ENERGY STAR and Our Environment
While ENERGY STAR does a great job saving individuals, businesses and the nation money through energy savings, it really shines in terms of environmental improvements and public health.
ENERGY STAR offers local governments and states with extra flexibility and lowered costs to meet their health and environmental objectives as well as their air quality requirements.
ENERGY STAR helped Americans save close to 400 billion kWh of electricity in 2016 with 320 million metric tons of harmful greenhouse gas emissions, 220,000 tons of nitrogen oxide, 300,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and 23,000 tons of fine particulate matter, otherwise known as PM2.5.
On top of that, ENERGY STAR greenhouse gas reductions have met 3.1 billion metric tons since 1992.
What Does ENERGY STAR Mean to Us?
While becoming an ENERGY STAR consumer or certification owner is a personal choice, considering the facts and figures, gains and outcomes as we’ve outlined, it’s also a smart choice.
These outcomes go far beyond the walls of a business or home.
According to ENERGY STAR, if every U.S. appliance purchased had an ENERGY STAR rating, as a nation we would:
- Save close to 3 billion kWh of electricity per year
- Prevent greenhouse gas emissions that add up to the equivalent of 420,000 cars
- Save over 25 billion gallons of water every year
- Save $580 million in energy costs per year
So what does the ENERGY STAR mean to us?
We believe that ENERGY STAR is the new standard for not just appliances and products, but for the way we live our lives and function as a society.
Not only does it help save money for everyone involved, but it raises the bar in terms of standards for the environment.
Strict environmental standards are more vital than ever, and every action, purchase and choice counts.
So, the real question is, what does ENERGY STAR mean to you?