Using less electricity it’s good for the environment, and it’s good for your pocket when these utility bills are reduced. The next time you buy a computer, refrigerator, or TV, you might see an Energy Star logo stuck to the side of your device and think, “I guess that’s a good sign, but what exactly does it mean?”
The Energy Star program is run by the United States government under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency. Intrigued by the importance of this little blue sticker, I met Katharine Kaplan, who is Energy Star’s product development manager and has worked at the EPA for over a decade. To help you better understand Energy Star, we talked about the story, the mission of the program, and how it can help you save money.
The 1991 Green Lights program was the predecessor of Energy Star, and focused primarily on the use of energy by light bulbs. The government launched Energy Star a year later to examine computers consuming electricity and CRT monitors operated by more and more office workers at the time. The program was enacted through the Clean Air Act, which “directed the EPA to use non-regulatory approaches to reduce pollution,” Kaplan says.
Why would the government decide to try a non-regulatory approach in addition to product regulation? We compare government to a classroom teacher. Of course, you need to have disciplinary action for students with problems, but you also want to have incentives for your best students: pizza parties, extra recess, bright stickers.
“When we set our Energy Star requirements, we’re targeting 25 percent of the best products on the market. Of course, we’re a market transformation program,” says Kaplan. “That means we put the bar down and then, thanks to a lot of innovation from the manufacturers, we have to raise the bar.”
Okay, it makes sense, though maybe we’re moving a little further. What does does this sticker mean? It basically identifies products that use less power than similar devices. Efficiency is the name of the game, and Kaplan argues that it requires no sacrifice in quality. “You’re getting the features and functionality you want,” he explains. Energy Star has multiple business initiatives for businesses; this explainer highlights the consumer side of things.
So back to these stickers. When you buy appliances, you may also find large yellow labels on certain items. These tags are from EnergyGuide, a program run by the Federal Trade Commission, not the EPA. An Energy Star sticker indicates the top of the class, while an EnergyGuide tag helps you understand at a glance how much energy a product will consume in a year.
With the certification of the best devices, Energy Star covers a wide range of products. While refrigerators and washing machines are obvious energy consumers, there is a recent addition to the home that can be overlooked.
“Air cleaners,” says Kaplan, “work for much of the day and can use as much energy as a refrigerator. Some of these are small products, so you never think it’s a big deal. power user “. The Energy Star website includes a guide to help you choose an energy efficient air purification system.