When Was the Last Time You Thought About Energy Star?Posted on 09/02/11
It’s undoubtedly been a while since northwest Florida home owners saw a commercial advertising a washer, dryer or some other appliance that didn’t bear the Energy Star label for energy efficiency. In fact, the program, jointly run by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, has been criticized because too many appliances were winning the designation, diluting its impact.
According to houselogic.com, in their effort to tighten the criteria, EPA and the Department of Energy are announcing a new label, “most efficient,” to recognize the best-of-the-lot products. The Energy Star Most Efficient program, which will operate on a pilot basis through 2011, has established top-performance standards for a limited number of appliance categories, including washers, heating and cooling systems, televisions, and refrigerator-freezers.
The EPA guidelines say that the most efficient products “must demonstrate efficiency performance that is truly exceptional, inspirational, or leading-edge — consistent with the interests of environmentally motivated consumers and early adopters.” Don’t forget that geography can be a factor for some products, such as cooling and heating equipment. What’s high-efficiency in one region may not be in another, the guidelines say.
Household names such as Kenmore, LG, Samsung, and Panasonic are among those with products slated to earn the “most efficient” label in the program’s rollout. Products earning the “most efficient” label can be seen at energystar.gov/mostefficient.
The initiative is aimed at not only identifying the most efficient appliances currently available, but also at spurring innovation among manufacturers. Originally the program aimed to recognize the top 25% in energy efficiency, but Consumer Reports in 2010 said roughly three-quarters of TVs, dishwashers, and humidifiers qualified for Energy Star designation in 2009. The consumer magazine said the focus should be on toughening standards.
“When more than 35% of all products sold in any category qualify for Energy Star, that should signal that the technology and economies of scale have reached a point where achieving an Energy Star is too easy and that the bar needs to be raised,” the magazine said.
In a related development, the Department of Energy recently announced final energy-efficiency standards for refrigerators and freezers designed to improve their efficiency by 25% by 2014.
The program also took criticism initially because manufacturers were able to certify the efficiency of their own products. But today both the base Energy Star products and the ones rated “most efficient” are tested in EPA-recognized testing laboratories.
Anticipating a second year for the initiative, the EPA is expected this fall to consider new categories of products for addition.
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