EPA's Response to Washington Post February 2010 Article
The February 22nd Washington Post article on ENERGY STAR raises an important issue that EPA works on continually — where to set the ENERGY STAR levels that determine which products can earn the label.
The goal of the ENERGY STAR program is to help consumers find cost effective and energy efficient products. Through ENERGY STAR, EPA seeks to increase the sales of energy efficient products by making it easy for consumers to identify them. Products that feature the label save energy and help protect the environment without sacrificing features or functionality. As a result of this growing demand and increased visibility, ENERGY STAR is transforming the market across more than 60 product categories toward greater efficiency. In 2008, as a result of ENERGY STAR, Americans saved more than $18 billion on their utility bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 29 million vehicles.
EPA uses a systematic and transparent process in establishing the requirements a product has to meet to earn the label. These requirements are updated on a regular basis consistent with a solid track record of keeping pace with technological and market advances in energy efficiency.
As a general practice, EPA defines energy efficiency for the purposes of establishing an ENERGY STAR requirement as the amount of energy used by roughly the top 25 percent of available models, assuming that level of performance is cost-effective to the consumer and doesn't compromise performance. Over time, the number of products meeting ENERGY STAR criteria increases. That is a goal of the program — not a flaw. More energy-efficient products available for consumers mean more energy bill savings and less dangerous CO2 in our atmosphere.
Contrary to the suggestion of the article, no matter what the market share of ENERGY STAR qualified products, consumers who purchase a labeled product get one that will contribute to a cleaner environment and save them money without sacrifice in performance.
EPA works to continually improve the ENERGY STAR program. EPA and DOE recently signed an agreement to ensure that product specifications are up to date. Both agencies are committed to evolving ENERGY STAR to meet consumers' needs while setting the bar higher and higher for energy efficiency across a wide variety of product categories. For more information, go to energystar.gov.