Use less electricity is good for the environment and good for your wallet when these utility bills are rolling. The next time you buy a computer, refrigerator or TV, you can see Energy star the logo hit the side of the device and he thought, “I guess that’s a good sign, but what exactly does it mean?”
The Energy Star program is administered by the United States government under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency. Curious about the importance of this little blue sticker, I met Catherine Kaplan, who is a product development manager at Energy Star and has been with the EPA for more than a decade. To help you better understand Energy Star, we’ve discussed the program’s history, mission, and how it can help you save money.
IN Green lights program has been the predecessor of Energy Star since 1991 and focuses mainly on the use of energy from light bulbs. The government launched Energy Star a year later to investigate computers that absorb electricity and CRT monitors operated by more and more office workers at the time. The program was introduced through the Clean Air Act, which “directed the EPA to use non-regulatory 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 classroom teacher. Of course, you need to have disciplinary measures for troubled students, but you also want to have incentives for your best students: pizza parties, extra vacations, shiny stickers.
“When we set our requirements for Energy Star, we aim for the top 25 percent of products on the market. Of course, we are a market transformation program, “said Kaplan. “This means that we set the bar and then, thanks to many innovations from the manufacturers, the bar has to be raised.”
Okay, that makes sense, though we may be a little ahead. What right does this sticker mean? In essence, it identifies products that use less energy than such devices. Efficiency is the name of the game and Kaplan claims that it does not require any sacrifices in quality. “You get the features and functionality you want,” she explains. Energy Star has many commercial initiatives for business; this explanation emphasizes the consumer side of things.
So back to those stickers. When shopping for home appliances, you may also come across large yellow labels on certain items. These labels are from EnergyGuide, a program run by the Federal Trade Commission, not the EPA. The Energy Star sticker marks the top of the class, while the EnergyGuide label helps you understand at a glance approximately how much energy a product will use in a year.
By certifying the best devices, Energy Star covers a wide range of products. While refrigerators and washing machines are obvious energy-absorbers, there is one recent addition to households that can be overlooked.
“Air purifiers,” says Kaplan, “work most of the day and can use as much energy as a refrigerator.” Some of them are small products, so you would never think that this is a big consumer of energy. The Energy Star website includes a guide to help you choose energy efficient air purification system.