Uses less power is good for the environment and it’s good for your wallet when these consumption bills roll around. The next time you buy a computer, refrigerator or TV, you may see one Energy Star the logo turned on the side of the device and thinks, “This is a good sign, but what exactly does it mean?”
The Energy Star program is run by the U.S. government under the auspices of the Environmental Protection Agency. Curious about the meaning of the little blue sticker, I met Katharine Kaplan, who is head of product development at Energy Star and has worked at EPA for over a decade. To help you better understand Energy Star, we discussed the program’s history, mission, and how it can help you save money.
That Green light program from 1991 was Energy Stars’ predecessor, and it focused primarily on energy consumption of light bulbs. The government launched Energy Star a year later to investigate power-hungry computers and CRT monitors operated by more and more office workers at the time. The program was enacted through the Clean Air Act, which “instructed the EPA to use non-legislative approaches to reduce pollution,” Kaplan said.
Why would the government decide to try a non-regulatory approach in addition to product regulation? Let’s compare the government to a teacher in a classroom. Of course, you need to have disciplinary measures in place for problem students, but you also want incentives for your best students: pizza parties, extra free time, shiny stickers.
“When we set our Energy Star requirements, we aim for the best 25 percent of the products on the market. Of course, we are a market transformation program,” says Kaplan. lots of innovation from the producers. “
OK, that makes sense, even though we may be a little ahead of ourselves. What do does it mean sticker? It essentially identifies products that use less energy than similar devices. Efficiency is the name of the game, and Kaplan claims it does not require any sacrifices in quality. “You get the features and functionality you want,” she explains. Energy Star has several commercial initiatives for businesses; this explanation highlights the consumer side of things.
So back to the stickers. When shopping for home appliances, you may also come across large yellow marks on certain items. These labels are from Energy Guide, a program run by the Federal Trade Commission, not the EPA. An Energy Star sticker indicates the top of the class, while an EnergyGuide sticker helps you understand at a glance how much energy a product will use in a year.
Energy Star certifies the best devices and covers a wide range of products. While refrigerators and washing machines are obvious energy guzzlers, there is a recent addition to households that can be overlooked.
“Air purifiers,” says Kaplan, “work a large part of the day, and they can use as much energy as a refrigerator. Some of these are small products, so you should never think that this is a big energy consumer.” The Energy Star website includes a guide to help you choose one energy efficient air purification system.