Energy Efficient Performance Earns Products Their Stars

One of the easiest ways to save money — and the environment — is through efficient energy use. That includes using energy-efficient products and appliances. To find energy-efficient products, look for the Energy Star label.

A Star is Born

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Energy Star label program to inform the public of the amount of energy used by appliances and how to save money and help the environment simply by choosing energy-efficient products.

The label first appeared in 1993 on personal computers. Today, it is used on products ranging from washing machines to bath vents.

The EPA and DOE work closely with more than 1,000 manufacturers to determine the energy performance levels that must be met for a product to earn the Energy Star label. In general, a product must operate much more efficiently than its counterparts, while maintaining or improving performance.

Save Energy

Energy Star products typically cost about the same as or slightly more than those that do not qualify for the label. However, they also usually cost less to operate. In fact, the EPA estimates that efficient products can reduce energy use by up to 50%.

Energy Star products save energy in other ways too. For example, new homes can be awarded the Energy Star label if they incorporate energy-efficient design features such as the use of natural light, high-performance windows, superior insulation and advanced duct sealing — all of which can save energy and associated costs.

Or consider that most home furnaces lose a significant amount of heat out the flue or chimney. Instead of heating the outdoors, Energy Star furnaces capture more than 90% of available heat. This makes them cleaner and less expensive to run.

Help the Environment

Using Energy Star products can benefit the environment too. Most homes in the US use energy generated by power plants that burn fossil fuels such as coal. That results in air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.

According to the EPA, if every household and business in the United States switched to Energy Star products, over the next 15 years the carbon dioxide reductions would be equivalent to taking 17 million cars off the road for each of those years. The country would save an estimated $100 billion in energy bills.

Tax Credits Too

Now there is even more incentive for considering Energy Star qualified or other energy efficient products. The US federal government is offering tax credits for some home improvement projects that increase energy efficiency. Not all Energy Star qualified homes and products qualify for the tax credit.