What is the Energy Star Program?
The U.S. government unveiled the Energy Star program in 1992 as a voluntary labeling system. If an appliance meets the program’s requirements, it can have an Energy Star label. Why is this a big deal? Consumers know that Energy Star-rated appliances will help reduce their energy and water usage. Since the program began, it’s reduced utility bills by more than $362 billion.
Initially, the program allowed only computer monitors to use the Energy Star label. Over the years, the program has expanded. Now, you can find Energy Star-rated products in a wide range of categories such as home electronics, appliances, heating and cooling systems, lighting, and industrial products.
How to Find Energy Star Appliances
When you head to the store to shop for major appliances, look for the blue Energy Star label. This eye-catching sticker is usually put in a conspicuous spot since manufacturers and retailers consider the label to be a valuable differentiator. In addition, Energy Star appliances should also carry a bright yellow tag called EnergyGuide.
What Details Are on the EnergyGuide Label?
To be included in the Energy Star program, appliances must meet or exceed the guidelines of the Appliance Standards Program. To ensure the integrity of the program, guidelines and test procedures come from the U.S. Department of Energy. Manufacturers must put test results on the EnergyGuide label. The data on the label gives consumers an estimate of how much energy the appliance uses. It also compares the appliance’s energy consumption to the energy use of similar appliances. Finally, the label includes an estimate of how much it will cost to operate the appliance on a yearly basis.
How Buying Energy Star Appliances Helps You Save Money
Buying energy efficient appliances will help reduce your utility bills. How much you’ll save depends on how many Energy Star products you purchase, their energy usage, and how much energy your current appliances use. Because refrigerators consume so much electricity, the Energy Star website offers a “Flip Your Fridge” calculator. This online tool makes it easy to calculate how much money and energy you’ll save over a five-year period if you replace your primary or overflow refrigerator or freezer.
A single appliance may not save you tons of money on your energy bill. But you can start to see real savings if you replace most of your major appliances with Energy Star products. When it’s time to replace your stove, dishwasher, refrigerator, washing machine, dryer, and dehumidifier, invest in Energy Star products. You should also aim to use Energy Star lighting.
Over time, your new appliances and fixtures will put more money in your pocket as you spend less on your electric and water bills each month. The government estimates that you could decrease your energy consumption by up to 30 percent when you use multiple Energy Star products in your home.
What Are Important Considerations When Buying an Energy-Efficient Appliance?
Some appliances come with special features that enhance energy efficiency. The EnergyGuide label is your ultimate tool for understanding the energy efficiency of any appliance, taking into consideration any enhancements.
Beyond the EnergyGuide label, the government provides advice for shoppers who want to buy Energy Star appliances. If you’re shopping for a new washing machine, consider the capacity you need. Larger washers hold more clothes but consumer more energy. As you browse, watch for models that have a high Integrated Modified Energy Factor (IMEF) and a low Integrated Water Factor (IWF). The IMEF is a measurement that accounts for the energy the washer uses during each cycle and while on standby. It also includes the energy that’s required to heat the water. The IWF rates the washer’s water efficiency.
When shopping for dryers, you should look for models that come with a built-in moisture sensor. This technology automatically tweaks the heat level in response to how wet the laundry is. In addition, the moisture sensor turns off the dryer when clothes are dry. Not only does this feature save energy, but it also preserves your clothes by preventing over-drying.
Shopping for Energy Star appliances doesn’t have to be confusing. With the EnergyGuide data, you can quickly see how much energy you can save with a particular appliance. As a result, you can make an informed decision about which appliances will make your home more energy efficient and lower your utility costs.