use less electricity It’s good for the environment, and it’s also good for your wallet when those utility bills roll in. The next time you buy a computer, refrigerator, or TV, you might see the ENERGY STAR logo on the side of the device and think, “I guess that’s a good sign, but what does it really mean?”
The ENERGY STAR program is implemented by the U.S. government under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency. Curious about the importance of that little blue sticker, I met Katharine Kaplan, ENERGY STAR Product Development Manager, who has been with the EPA for over a decade. To help you better understand ENERGY STAR, we discuss the program’s history, mission, and how it can help you save money.
The 1991 Green Light Program, a precursor to ENERGY STAR, focused on the energy use of light bulbs. A year later, the government introduced Energy Star to check the power-hungry computers and CRT monitors operated by a growing number of office workers at the time. The plan was created through the Clean Air Act, which “directs EPA to use non-regulatory methods to reduce pollution,” Kaplan said.
Why would the government decide to try a non-regulatory approach other than product regulation? Let’s compare government to a teacher in a classroom. Of course, you need to take disciplinary measures against the students in question, but you also want to provide incentives for your best students: pizza parties, extra recess, shiny stickers.
“When we set the ENERGY STAR requirement, we were targeting the top 25 percent of products in the market. Of course, we were a market transformation program,” Kaplan said. “That means we set the bar, and then, because of a lot of innovation from manufacturers, the bar needs to be raised.”
OK, that makes sense, although we might be a bit ahead of our time.what Do What does that sticker mean? It essentially identifies products that use less energy than similar devices. Efficiency is the name of the game, and Kaplan believes it doesn’t require sacrificing quality. “You get the features and functionality you want,” she explained. ENERGY STAR offers several business plans for businesses; this explainer highlights the consumer side of things.
So back to those stickers. When shopping for home appliances, you may also encounter large yellow labels on some items. These labels are from EnergyGuide, a program run by the Federal Trade Commission, not the EPA. The ENERGY STAR label represents the best of its kind, and the Energy Guide label helps you see at a glance how much energy a product will use in a year.
ENERGY STAR certifies the best equipment and covers a wide range of products. While refrigerators and washing machines are clearly energy hogs, there’s one household that might be overlooked lately.
“Air purifiers,” Kaplan said, “run most of the day, and they can use as much energy as a refrigerator. Some of them are small products, so you’d never consider it an energy hog. ” The ENERGY STAR website contains guidelines to help you choose an energy efficient air purification system.