What Energy Star means ( and means for YOU)

In Heating & Cooling 101 by Allan WLeave a Comment

Whether it’s at the local appliance store, the TV, internet or even in your own home you’ve probably seen, heard or know of the phrase ENERGY STAR. What is it exactly though? We know its something good, we can gather through context that it is something to seek when obtaining a new appliance, but how does something earn the ENERGY STAR label? Who decides what makes the cut and what falls to the side? We seek to define what ENERGY star is and what that means for you, the consumer.

ENERGY STAR is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary program that helps businesses and people save money and protect the climate through energy efficiency. According to the EPA website,  the ENERGY STAR program was initiated in 1992 to

Conduct a basic engineering research and technology program to develop, evaluate, and demonstrate non–regulatory strategies and technologies for reducing air pollution.

The energy used in homes, buildings, and industry across the United States accounts for two thirds of greenhouse gas emissions and since the implementation of the ENERGY STAR system, there has been a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. This initiative has aided and continues to aid consumers, businesses, and organizations in investments in energy efficiency.

From manufacturers and trade associations, to retailers and efficiency program providers, to home builders and small businesses. ENERGY STAR has grown to represent products in more than 65 different categories, with more than 4.5 billion sold over the past 20 years. More than 1.4 million new homes and more than 20,000 facilities carry EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification, use dramatically less energy, and are responsible for substantially less greenhouse gas emissions.

How Does EPA Choose which Products Earn the Label?

Products earn the ENERGY STAR label by meeting energy efficiency requirements and specifications set by the EPA. These specifications are based on certain principles:


  • Product categories must contribute significant energy savings nationwide.
  • Qualified products must deliver the features and performance demanded by consumers, in addition to increased energy efficiency.
  • If the qualified product costs more than a conventional, less-efficient counterpart, purchasers will recover their investment in increased energy efficiency through utility bill savings, within a reasonable period of time.
  • Energy efficiency can be achieved through broadly available, non-proprietary technologies offered by more than one manufacturer.
  • Product energy consumption and performance can be measured and verified with testing.
  • Labeling would effectively differentiate products and be visible for purchasers.

For a product to earn an ENERGY STAR label, the product must be certified by a third-party who tests the product in an EPA recognized lab and all ENERGY STAR products are subject to off-the-shelf testing. Here are some requirements for homes & buildings as shown on the EPA’s website:


  • For New Homes: Verification of a home’s energy efficiency by a third-party organization is mandatory for earning the ENERGY STAR label. There are two paths to certify a home to earn the ENERGY STAR. The Prescriptive Path is based on a predefined package of improvements, while the Performance Path is based on a customized package of upgrades.


  • For Commercial Buildings: Buildings achieving a score of 75 or higher using what is called a Portfolio Manager must be verified by a Professional Engineer or Registered Architect to be eligible to apply for the ENERGY STAR. The Licensed Professional must verify that all energy use is accounted for accurately, that the building characteristics have been properly reported (including the square footage of the building), that the building is fully functional in accordance with industry standards, and that each of the indoor environment criteria has been met.


  • For Industrial Plants: A Professional Engineer must certify that the information used to calculate the plant‘s 75 or higher energy performance score is correct. In addition, the plant must satisfy EPA environmental compliance criteria screen.


Where can ENERGY STAR products be purchased?

While these products may be purchased at many places, has everything when it comes to ENERGY STAR products. For example, this ultra efficient Mitsubishi ductless system with a SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating of 30.5, or perhaps you’re in the market for a more traditional 100,000 BTU furnace from Goodman that is 97% AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) such as this one here.



Good for the environment and good for you wallet

Did you know that the EPA provides a wealth of rebates for buying new ENERGY STAR appliances? It’s not just appliances such as water heaters and boilers, it can range from air purifiers & cleaners to insulation, skylights, T.V’s and water pumps. There are literally rebates for hundreds of ENERGY star products.
So when it’s time for you to upgrade or replace your next energy consuming product or appliance, be sure to check for that energy star label to ensure lower energy bills, a smaller environmental impact and to take advantage of great rebates!

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