What that Energy Star Label Really Means

That little blue or silver Energy Star label on appliances, consumer electronics and windows and doors can translate into solid savings for your pocketbook. It also means that you’ve taken one more step towards conserving energy and being earth-friendly.

The Energy Star program began in 1992 as a joint effort between the United States Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. It establishes criteria for efficient energy use or conservation and a partnership program so that products can be manufactured and labeled as energy efficient.

Price, Performance, and Energy Star Ratings

While Consumers Guide may provide a nice table comparing price, performance, and energy use, visit the Energy Star website at energystar.gov to get the full, unedited scoop on which manufacturers participate in the Energy Star program and exactly what products carry the label.

Here you can learn exactly how an appliance or device uses or abuses energy, and how your selection of an energy-efficient product can help reduce your impact on the environment. You’ll also find Home Energy Audit toolkits — games to help the kids learn about conserving energy and special oOffers and rebates available for Energy Star purchases.

Manufacturers must earn the Energy Star label by showing that their products meet strict standards for energy efficiency and performance. More than 50 product categories now carry the Energy Star label including building materials, home heating and cooling equipment, home appliances, electronics, and even Christmas lights. Products bearing the Energy Star label are 10 to 25 percent more efficient than required by the federal standard without sacrificing quality and value.

Energy Star-rated products are available in most price ranges, giving you a wide shopping selection in area stores.

John Duron is a sales associate at Larson’s Home Furnishings in downtown Medford. Over the course of the last 20 years, he’s seen more products become Energy Star rated and is quick to point out the savings. “The electricity is [used] in the water heater for the dish water or the washer, and the less water used, then the less water that has to be heated up,” Duron says. “It going to cut that normal bill in half: for a washer, an average family will save about $100 a year in water, electricity and detergent.”

Other products in the home appliance category that can carry an Energy Star rating include battery chargers, dehumidifiers, air conditioners and water coolers.

Energy efficient home electronics, including televisions, DVD players, computers and monitors, and audio equipment are all readily available. These products save energy by not using energy, or using less energy when they are turned off as well as being energy efficient when they are in use.

“Computers are one of the biggest monsters for sucking up power,” explains Justin Liddell of Connecting Point in Medford. “The big CRT monitors, the block monitors use an enormous amount of energy to produce the image you see.” [Price and compatibility are their major selection criteria].

“Most people that come in here, they don’t really care how much energy something uses as long as it works with their systems,” explains Liddell. But you don’t have to sacrifice price and compatibility to go green. For a more efficient energy-use alternative that will reduce your electricity bill, Liddell points out flat screen LCD panels, high performance computers, laptops, scanners, and printers that all have the Energy Star label.

If you’re thinking of updating your home or planning to build, Energy Star ratings can save you big time by reducing your heating and cooling costs. Loose-fitting exterior doors, garage doors and windows are some of the most common sources of energy loss in the home and let dust, moisture, and mold in. Whether you’re planning to do it yourself or work with a contractor, ask for the Energy Star label on exterior doors, windows, fans, furnaces and air conditioning systems. Local businesses like Superior Windows and Doors in Ashland or do-it-yourself outfits will have a fine selection of products that meet or exceed the most stringent Energy Star standards.

Not only will Energy Star products reduce your energy use and your bill, you may be able to save when you purchase them. Medford, Ashland and other communities offer rebates or tax credits when you replace your old refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer, or electric water heater with selected Energy Star products or when you use them in construction.

Buy the “stars,” help save the Earth. It’s that simple.


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