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The Energy Star logo is placed on energy-efficient products.

Energy Star is an international standard for energy efficient consumer products. It was first created as a United States government program by the Clinton Administration in 1992, but Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and the European Union have also adopted the program. Devices carrying the Energy Star logo, such as computer products and peripherals, kitchen appliances, buildings and other products, generally use 20%–30% less energy than required by federal standards.[1] However, many European-targeted products are labeled using a different standard, TCO Certification, a combined energy usage and ergonomics rating from the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees (TCO) instead of Energy Star.



The Energy Star program was created in 1992 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in an attempt to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission by power plants. The program was developed by John S. Hoffman, inventor of the Green Programs at US EPA, and implemented by Cathy Zoi and Brian Johnson.[citation needed] The program was intended to be part of a series of voluntary programs, such as Green Lights and the Methane Programs, that would demonstrate the potential for profit in reducing greenhouse gases and facilitate further steps to reducing global warming gases.[citation needed]

Initiated as a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy efficient products, Energy Star began with labels for computer products. In 1995 the program was significantly expanded, introducing labels for residential heating and cooling systems and new homes.[2] As of 2006, more than 40,000 Energy Star products are available in a wide range of items including major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, and more. In addition, the label can also be found on new homes and commercial and industrial buildings. In 2006, about 12 percent of new housing in the United States was labeled Energy Star.[3]

The EPA estimates that it saved about $14 billion in energy costs in 2006 alone. The Energy Star program has helped spread the use of LED traffic lights, efficient fluorescent lighting, power management systems for office equipment, and low standby energy use.[4]

In 2008, USEPA announced Green Power Partnership program, which was designed to help achieve its goal of encouraging the use of renewable power sources. The renewable energy credits allow companies without direct access to renewable power achieve their goals. However, to avoid companies buying RECs years in advance of any of the hypothetical power ever being produced, RECs are only accepted into the program when the actual equivalent renewable power will be produced.[5]


Energy Star specifications differ with each item, and are set by either the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Energy. The following highlights product and specification information available on the Energy Star website.



New Energy Star 4.0 specifications for computers became effective on July 20, 2007. They require the use of 80 PLUS Bronze level or higher power supplies. Energy Star 5.0 became effective on July 1, 2009. [6]


The EPA released Version 1.0 of the Computer Server specifications on May 15, 2009. It covers standalone servers with one to four processor sockets. A second tier to the specification covering servers with more than four processor sockets, as well as blade servers and fault-tolerant machines is expected in late 2010.


As of early 2008, average refrigerators need 20% savings over the minimum standard. Dishwashers need at least 41% savings. Most appliances as well as heating and cooling systems have a yellow EnergyGuide label showing the annual cost of operation compared to other models. This label is created through the Department of Energy and often shows if an appliance is Energy Star.[7] While an Energy Star label indicates that the appliance is more energy efficient than the minimum guidelines, purchasing an Energy Star labeled product does not always mean you are getting the most energy efficient option available. For example, dehumidifiers that are rated under 25 US pints (12 L) per day of water extraction receive an Energy Star rating if they have an energy factor of 1.2 (higher is better), while those rated 25 US pints (12 L) to 35 US pints (17 L) per day receive an Energy Star rating for an energy factor of 1.4 or higher. Thus a higher-capacity but non-Energy Star rated dehumidifier may be a more energy efficient alternative than an Energy Star rated but lower-capacity model. [8] The Energy Star program's savings calculator has also been criticized for unrealistic assumptions in its model that tend to magnify savings benefits to the average consumer.[9]

Another factor yet to be considered by the EPA and DOE is the overall effect of energy-saving requirements on the durability and expected service life of a mass-market appliance built to a consumer-level cost standard. For example, a refrigerator may be made more efficient by the use of more insulative spacing and a smaller-capacity compressor using electronics to control operation and temperature. However, this may come at the cost of reduced interior storage (or increased exterior mass) or a reduced service life due to compressor and/or electronic failures. In particular, electronic controls used on new-generation appliances are subject to damage from shock, vibration, moisture, or power spikes on the electrical circuit to which they are attached. Critics have pointed out that even if a new appliance is energy-efficient, any consumer appliance that does not provide customer satisfaction, or must be replaced twice as often as its predecessor contributes to landfill pollution and wastage of natural resources used to construct its replacement.[10]

Heating and Cooling Systems

Energy Star qualified Heat pumps, boilers, air conditioning systems, and furnaces are available. In addition, cooling and heating bills can be significantly lowered with air sealing and duct sealing. Air sealing reduces the outdoor air that penetrates a building, and duct sealing prevents attic or basement air from entering ducts and lessening the heating/cooling system’s efficiency.

Energy Star qualified room air conditioners are at least 10% more energy efficient than the minimum U.S. federal government standards.[11]

Home Electronics

Energy Star qualified televisions use 30% less energy than average. In November 2008, television specifications will be improved to limit on-mode power use, in addition to standby power which is limited by the current specifications. A wider range of Energy Star qualified televisions will be available. Other qualified home electronics include cordless phones, battery chargers, VCRs and external power adapters, most of which use 90% less energy.


The Energy Star is awarded to only certain bulbs that meet strict efficiency, quality, and lifetime criteria.

Energy Star qualified fluorescent lighting uses 75% less energy and lasts up to ten times longer than normal incandescent lights.

Energy Star Qualified Light Emitting Diode (LED) Lighting:

  • Reduces energy costs — uses at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting, saving on operating expenses.
  • Reduces maintenance costs — lasts 35 to 50 times longer than incandescent lighting and about 2 to 5 times longer than fluorescent lighting. No bulb-replacements, no ladders, no ongoing disposal program.
  • Reduces cooling costs — LEDs produce very little heat.
  • Is guaranteed — comes with a minimum three-year warranty — far beyond the industry standard.
  • Offers convenient features — available with dimming on some indoor models and automatic daylight shut-off and motion sensors on some outdoor models.
  • Is durable — won’t break like a bulb.

To qualify for Energy Star certification, LED lighting products must pass a variety of tests to prove that the products will display the following characteristics:

  • Brightness is equal to or greater than existing lighting technologies (incandescent or fluorescent) and light is well distributed over the area lighted by the fixture.
  • Light output remains constant over time, only decreasing towards the end of the rated lifetime (at least 35,000 hours or 12 years based on use of 8 hours per day).
  • Excellent color quality. The shade of white light appears clear and consistent over time.
  • Efficiency is as good as or better than fluorescent lighting.
  • Light comes on instantly when turned on.
  • No flicker when dimmed.
  • No off-state power draw. The fixture does not use power when it is turned off, with the exception of external controls, whose power should not exceed 0.5 watts in the off state.

Home office

A new Energy Star specification for desktop computers went into effect 20 July 2007.[12] The requirements are more stringent than the previous specification and existing equipment designs can no longer use the logo unless re-qualified. The power requirements are for 80% or greater AC power supply efficiency using the standards defined by 80 Plus Program.[13]

New Homes

New homes that meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency can qualify for Energy Star certification. An Energy Star qualified home uses at least 15% less energy than standard homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC). They usually include properly installed insulation, high performance windows, tight construction and ducts, energy efficient cooling and heating systems, and Energy Star qualified appliances, lighting, and water heaters.[14]

Energy Performance Ratings

The US EPA's Energy Star program has developed energy performance rating systems for several commercial and institutional building types and manufacturing facilities. These ratings, on a scale of 1 to 100, provide a means for benchmarking the energy efficiency of specific buildings and industrial plants against the energy performance of similar facilities. The ratings are used by building and energy managers to evaluate the energy performance of existing buildings and industrial plants. The rating systems are also used by EPA to determine if a building or plant can qualify to earn Energy Star recognition. [15]

For many types of commercial buildings, you can enter energy information into EPA's free online tool, Portfolio Manager[2], and it will calculate a score for your building on a scale of 1-100. Buildings that score a 75 or greater may qualify for the ENERGY STAR. Portfolio Manager is an interactive energy management tool that allows you to track and assess energy and water consumption across your entire portfolio of buildings in a secure online environment. Whether you own, manage, or hold properties for investment, Portfolio Manager can help you set investment priorities, identify under-performing buildings, verify efficiency improvements, and receive EPA recognition for superior energy performance.[16]


The number of space types that can receive the energy performance rating in Portfolio Manager is expanding and now includes:[17]

Bank/Financial Institutions, Courthouses, Hospitals (acute care and children’s), Hotels and Motels, House of Worship, K-12 Schools, Medical Offices, Offices, Residence Halls/Dormitories, Retail Stores, Supermarkets, and Warehouses (refrigerated and non-refrigerated).[18]

See the Technical Descriptions for Models Used in the Rating System at [3]. These documents provide detailed information on the methodologies used to create the energy performance ratings including details on rating objectives, regression techniques, and the steps applied to compute a rating.

Energy Star energy performance ratings have be incorporated into some green buildings standards, such as LEED for Existing Buildings.
Energy Conservation Building Code - India

Industrial Facilities

Energy performance ratings have been released for the following industrial facilities:[19]

Automobile assembly plants, Cement Plants, Wet Corn Mills, Container glass manufacturing, Flat glass manufacturing, Frozen fried potato processing plants, Juice processing, Petroleum refineries, Pharmaceutical manufacturing plants.[20]

Other Facilities

Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants


On December 17, 2008, the EPA Office of the Inspector General released its report on the Energy Star program. The Inspector General's audit found that the program claims regarding greenhouse gas reductions were inaccurate and based on faulty data. Additionally, the IG found that Energy Star program's reported energy savings were unreliable, and that many of the touted benefits could not be verified. "Deficiencies included the lack of a quality review of the data collected; reliance on estimates, forecasting, and unverified third party reporting; and the potential inclusion of exported items," the report concluded.[21]

Additionally, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Consumer Reports, and the trade website,[22] have released statements claiming that Energy Star test procedures contained loopholes that allow many inefficient products to receive Energy Star labels. Specific claims include:

  • U.S. Department of Energy regulations allowed the manufacturers to test the refrigerators with their ice-makers turned off, which is not how they are normally used in the home.
  • Using outdated testing rules and loose standards to award Energy Star ratings.
  • The program allows manufacturers to test their own products and only selectively spot-checks the test results they submit.
  • There are so many individually rated refrigerator categories that even inefficient product categories (such as Side by Sides) are certified.

Before the complaints were raised in 2008, 2006 federal court had required the DOE to update and tighten misleading Energy Star ratings given to products in almost two dozen categories, including dishwashers, air conditioners, heaters, furnaces and clothes dryers. The updates were to settle complaints by 14 states, including Pennsylvania. However, categories such as room air conditioners and clothes dryers would not be completed until June 2011.[23]

US Environmental Protection Agency had released reports in 2007 and 2008 claiming Energy Star labels were misleading. Inspector general issued a report that said Energy Star's savings claims were 'not accurate or verifiable.' The report also found that shipment data for Energy Star products were not being adequately reviewed and in some cases, were based on estimates instead of actual shipping totals.[24]

Martin Hellman revealed that Energy Star standby mode requirement can be compromised when an electronic device uses Download Acquisition Mode (DAM) feature to update TV Guide listing during standby mode. Hellman first found the feature on Sony KDL-37XBR6.[25]

See also


  1. ^ Alena Tugend (10 May 2008). "If Your Appliances Are Avocado, They're Probably not Green". New York Times. Retrieved 29 June 2008. 
  2. ^, “Milestones: ENERGY STAR.” 2007. Retrieved on 1 March 2008.
  3. ^ US Environmental Protection Agency, "2006 Annual Report: Energy Star and Other Climate Protection Partnerships.". Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  4. ^, "History: ENERGY STAR.". Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  5. ^ Timmer, John (2008-12-23). "EPA tightens rules on its Green Power Partners". Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  6. ^ Ng, Jansen (01 July 2009). "New Energy Star 5.0 Specs for Computers Become Effective Today". DailyTech. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  7. ^, "Learn More about EnergyGuide: Energy Star.". Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  8. ^ Green Energy Efficient Homes, Energy Efficient Dehumidifiers
  9. ^ Belzer, Richard [ Energy Star Appliances: EPA's Savings Calculator Exaggerates Savings], Regulatory Economics, 5 March 2008
  10. ^ Muñoz, Sara Schaeffer, Do 'Green' Appliances Live Up To Their Billing, The Wall Street Journal, Business, 2 August 2007
  11. ^ ", "Room Air Conditioners Key Product Criteria" Retrieved 2008-07-17". Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  12. ^, "New Energy Star Promoting New Specs at APEC and PPDC". March 20, 1948. Retrieved June 8, 2006.
  13. ^, "The 80 Plus Program | About". February 23, 2007. Retrieved March 03, 2007.
  14. ^ "ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes : ENERGY STAR". 2009-01-27. Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  15. ^ See and
  16. ^
  17. ^ ""Criteria for Rating Building Energy Performance"". Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Industries in Focus : ENERGY STAR". 2009-03-16. Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Environmental News Service, Energy Star Climate Change Claims Misleading, Audit Finds, Washington, D.C., 31 December 2008
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ "Energy stars may not be all they say they are". Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  24. ^ Why Obama’s Energy Savings Estimate May Be Skewed
  25. ^ Hruska, Joel (2009-02-09). "Sony LCD exceeds Energy Star power draw 75% of time". Retrieved 2009-03-23. 

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