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Energy Star is still a bright idea

Are Energy Star appliances really a better buy? Do they really use less energy and save money in the long run?

Absolutely, says the Environmental Protection Agency's Maria Vargas, a spokeswoman for the Energy Star program.

Despite some negative press, Energy Star is reliable and effective, she says.

"Energy Star is a government program, and our goal is to make it as easy as possible for consumers and businesses to be as energy-efficient as possible," Vargas says. "The idea is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency.

"Last year, Americans saved $14 billion — that's billion with a 'B' — on their energy bills and reduced greenhouse gases to the equivalent of 25 million cars."

Those numbers, she says, speak volumes on the success of the Energy Star program,