Energy Star Explained
With so much media coverage of green initiatives these days, you may find yourself feeling guilty just flipping on a light switch in your home or turning on your heating or air conditioning system. For many people, “going green” is an overwhelming and intimidating prospect; but there is one simple thing we can all do to make a significant difference.
If you’ve been shopping for heating and air conditioning equipment, appliances or electronics lately, you’ve probably seen products with an Energy Star label. Just the name alone sounds good, right? But what is Energy Star? Can buying one of these items with the little blue sticker really help the environment?
The Energy Star program was started in the early 1990s as a joint initiative between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. The project was initially founded as a voluntary labeling plan in which manufacturers could use the Energy Star designation to identify their products as energy-efficient and environmentally friendly; computers were the first goods to bear the Energy Star label. In the years that followed, the program expanded to include office equipment and home heating and air conditioning systems.
Today, in addition to heaters and air conditioners, there are thousands of Energy Star products including major appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers; lighting fixtures and light bulbs; electronic devices like stereos and DVD players; and office equipment like fax machines and copiers. There are even Energy Star homes and commercial buildings. Each has been rigorously tested and has been proven to perform as well as or better than comparable products, but with the added bonus of increased energy-efficiency and lower operational costs.
There are currently more than 15,000 public and private companies in partnership with Energy Star, providing essential education, tools, and technical information consumers need to make informed decisions about increasing energy-efficiency in the home and finding viable solutions for reducing impact on the environment. The Energy Star label is now seen on merchandise in more than 60 distinct categories and represents a trustworthy commitment to manufacturing products that save energy and money. The past ten years have also seen Energy Star become the force behind such innovations as power management features for office equipment, standby functions that reduce energy use, and low emissions fluorescent lighting.
All of this probably sounds great, but you may be asking yourself if simply buying furnaces, air conditioners and other products with an Energy Star label can really make a difference.
The truth is that Energy Star products do have an impact…or less of an impact, as it were. In 2008, consumers and businesses across the country that used Energy Star certified products saved about $19 billion in energy expenses and utility spending. The amount of energy saved was equal to the quantity of greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere by nearly 29 million cars. That’s incredibly significant no matter how you look at it.
So if you’re in the market for a new heating or air conditioning system or any electric appliances, are looking to remodel your home or begin new construction, or want business solutions that will help make you a more responsible corporate citizen, consider Energy Star products and ratings systems. You can’t lose.