You’ve seen the logo somewhere, that ubiquitous white star on a blue background: on a furnace, your refrigerator, maybe the corner of the box holding your new TV. You’ve definitely seen it on your monitor while your computer was booting up. But what is it? What is “ENERGY STAR,” and why has it been plastered all over a dizzying array of products for the past two decades?
The Energy Star program was originally developed in the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency, in conjunction with the Department of Energy. Introduced in 1992, the voluntary standard was designed to encourage and promote energy efficient products, in order to reduce energy consumption and the production of greenhouse gases. Since then, the program has expanded to Canada, as well as the European Union and a number of other countries.
The Energy Star rating has been awarded to tens of thousands of products, including computer equipment, kitchen appliances, air conditioners, furnaces, TVs, lightbulbs, and even entire homes. The specifications for the Energy Star standard varies for each product type, but most ES-certified products use 20 to 30 percent less energy than comparable products, without any loss in performance. Thanks to the global push to develop new energy-powered products that are less power-hungry than their predecessors, the efficiency of many appliances has skyrocketed. For example, modern clothes washers use 68% less energy than those manufactured in 1990.
Buying products certified by the Energy Star program is an excellent way to cut your electricity and gas bills. The next time you replace your washer, freezer, TV, water heater, or just about any other electricity- or gas-consuming appliance in your home, look for the star. It’ll save you money, and it will send the message to manufacturers that energy efficiency is an important quality in any and all products.
For more information on the Canadian Energy Star program, you can find the specifications for Energy Star-certified products on the Natural Resources Canada site. The NRC also provides a list of the most efficient products and appliances in a number of categories.
Buy blue, keep your country green, and keep your bank account in the black.