One of the easiest ways to save energy is to buy ENERGY STAR labeled products. The label does not mean much if you do not know how to read the EnergyGuide label that goes with it. Understanding what ENERGY STAR labels mean is important to choosing the right product for your needs. Some brands are more energy efficient than others.
What Do ENERGY STAR Labels Mean
The ENERGY STAR logo means a product has exceeded the minimum energy standards set by the federal government. The product must meet both quality and efficiency standards before it can receive the label. Most of the labeled products far exceed standards, making them better than non-labeled products.
The EPA determines which products get the label. They use a set of specific guidelines when choosing appliances and electronics to list as energy efficient. Providing significant energy savings is at the top of the list. The product must also offer enough energy savings for the consumer to recoup any difference in price versus less energy efficient products within a reasonable amount of time.
The EPA also requires the energy saving technology to be available by more than one manufacturer. This is to ensure a consumer has more choices. It also allows the EPA to establish a clearer energy saving average for that particular appliance type and technology.
Another important guideline is testing. Energy consumption must be easy to test and verify. If it cannot be measured and proven repeatedly, the product does not receive an ENERGY STAR label.
The exact criteria and standards change over time. The EPA does revise its specifications when necessary to provide consumers with the information they need to choose the most energy efficient products possible.
Reading The EnergyGuide Label
Most appliances include an EnergyGuide label. The appliance does not have to be ENERGY STAR certified to display this second label. The purpose of this usually yellow tag is to explain how much energy a product uses. Many consumers ignore the label and assume ENERGY STAR is enough. It is important to read the EnergyGuide label as every brand and type of appliance consumes different amounts of energy.
Each label is made up of five components. The first shows details about the model, maker and size of the product. The second is the most important as it lists the estimated yearly operating cost. The exact amount will vary based on how you use the product. The estimate is based on average use only. The cost is listed on a scale that displays the average range for similar models. This allows you to see how efficient a model or brand is compared to similar ones on the market.
Below the estimated cost is the estimated power use per year in kilowatts per hour. This gives you an idea of exactly how much energy is used if you want more details than just cost. If a product is ENERGY STAR rated, the logo appears in the bottom right corner of the tag. The final component lists any special features that make a difference in energy consumption.
This label is most often found on major appliances, such as washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners and TVs. Smaller electronics may not have an obvious EnergyGuide label. If the product does not, the manufacturer’s website may list some electricity consumption details.
How It Benefits You
Some consumers still choose non-ENERGY STAR electronics. The reason is they are sometimes cheaper. The problem is the cost over time is much higher. Many major appliances are used for a decade or more. An example could be if a refrigerator costs $100 more for ENERGY STAR. The average yearly operating cost for the cheaper refrigerator may be $20 more a year. Over a decade, you would pay $100 more for the lower cost one.
You may also save more due to tax benefits. Every ENERGY STAR product is not applicable to this program. You could receive as much as a 30% tax credit. The list of products changes each year.
How To Find ENERGY STAR Products
Most retailers who sell appliances and electronics have ENERGY STAR labeled products for sale. You can ask an associate to help you find labeled products and explain the differences in features. Another option is to visit the ENERGY STAR website. The energy savings at home section is a valuable guide to choosing products and taking steps to make your entire home more energy efficient. Ideas range from upgrading appliances to insulating your home.
If you are not sure what products you might need, the site steps you through common products based on each room of your home. You do not have to buy all ENERGY STAR products at one time to save money. Changing out products as they stop working is a good idea and it is easier on your budget.
Build ENERGY STAR Homes
ENERGY STAR does not just apply to appliances and electronics. The label is now being applied to new homes. These homes deliver up to 30% energy savings over regular new homes. This equates to an average savings of $300 per year. ENERGY STAR homes are specifically built to:
- Offer more efficient heating and cooling
- Provide better insulation for fewer drafts and air leaks
- Better resistance to moisture damage
- Improve indoor air quality
Every home earning the label goes through extensive tests by certified professionals. All inspections are independently done by these professionals to ensure the home meets or exceeds every guideline. You can have an ENERGY STAR certified home built yourself by searching for local ENERGY STAR contractors. You can also contact local real estate agents about any energy efficient homes currently on the market.
Knowing what to look for plays a large role in choosing the right ENERGY STAR product for your home. You lower your electricity bill with every appliance and electronic you replace with energy efficient models. The label is usually easy to find. If you have a preferred manufacturer, check their website before shopping to ensure they offer ENERGY STAR options. The power to save energy is in your hands.