Secrets Behind the Federal Energy Star Program

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The Federal Energy Star program is the result of a joint venture between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy. It was developed in 1992 and invites manufacturers to voluntarily label energy efficient products in an effort to reduce greenhouse emissions.

Products that can be labeled with the Energy Star logo include major appliances, heating and cooling equipment, office equipment, lighting, home electronics and more. These items have to meet strict environmental guidelines set forth by the EPA and usually cost more upfront than their standard counterparts, but will save money on operation over their lifetimes.

How It Works
Although voluntary, many manufacturers choose to create merchandise that is Energy Star-compliant for several reasons. First, they want to provide consumers with energy-efficient options. As the world becomes more “green,” consumers are demanding that electronics and appliances do their part to be less harmful environmentally. Second, these companies want to do their part towards helping the environment. Third, they want to help people save money on their bills so that they can develop lifelong customers.

Manufacturers looking to have their products qualify for the Energy Star program must meet specific standards set forth by the federal government. A list of these standards is available by appliance at EnergyStar.gov. Every type of product has different criteria for qualification, although the basic requirement is that they use much less energy and cost less to operate over the life of the item.

New Energy Star Products
Every year, more products are eligible for the Energy Star logo. Even new home construction can be rated with the program. Surprisingly, some of the newest Energy Star products are entire homes. When classified as energy-efficient, a new home can keep as much as 4,500 lbs of greenhouse gases out of the air each year. Areas in which energy can be conserved include the home “envelope” (walls, floors, insulation areas, windows), cooling and heating ducts, lighting and appliance installation.

Other recent Energy Star products to join the program include glass door refrigerators, digital picture frames and LCD computer monitors. In April of 2009, the EPA announced new Energy Star requirements for glass-door commercial freezers and refrigerators, such as those used in grocery and convenience stores. The new standards will make these products 33% more energy efficient than non-Energy Star models.

In March of 2009, the EPA also announced new energy regulations regarding the manufacturing of small digital equipment, such as digital picture frames and LCD computer monitors up to 60 inches diagonal. The new rules will make these products at least 20% more energy efficient and will prevent the emission of greenhouse gases equal to that of 1.5 million vehicles. In order to earn this label, however, the equipment must meet new, higher standards than those in 2008 for computer products.

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