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EPA, DOE Announce New Steps to Strengthen Energy Star
Release Date: 03/19/2010
Contact Information: Enesta Jones (EPA), firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-564-7873, 202-564-4355, Jen Stutsman (DOE), Jen.Stutsman@hq.doe.gov, 202-586-4940
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today outlined a series of steps to further strengthen the trusted Energy Star program. This action comes at a critical time for American consumers, many of whom struggle to keep up with their monthly energy bills. In addition to third-party testing already underway, EPA and DOE have launched a new two-step process to expand testing of Energy Star qualified products. This week, DOE began testing of some of the most commonly used appliances, which account for more than 25 percent of a household’s energy bill, and both agencies are now developing a system to test all products that earn the Energy Star label. The steps are part of an overall effort by the Obama Administration to improve the energy efficiency of homes and appliances to save families money.
“Energy efficiency is more important than ever to American families,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “As our economy gets back on its feet, Energy Star is an easy way for consumers to save money and help fight climate change.”
“Consumers have long trusted the Energy Star brand for products that will save them energy and save them money,” said Cathy Zoi, DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “The steps we’re taking now will further strengthen and improve the program, building on the results that consumers have come to expect.”
Consumers can feel confident in Energy Star because in 2009 alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 30 million cars — all while saving nearly $17 billion on their utility bills.
Taking Action: The Obama Administration Strengthens Testing and Enforcement
EPA and DOE are taking aggressive action to promote confidence in the Energy Star brand through both testing and enforcement.
Testing. EPA and DOE have launched a two-step process to expand testing of Energy Star qualified products:
- · DOE began tests this week on six of the most common product types: freezers, refrigerator-freezers, clothes washers, dishwashers, water heaters and room air conditioners. DOE will test approximately 200 basic models at third-party, independent test laboratories over the next few months.
· EPA and DOE are also developing an expanded system that will require all products seeking the Energy Star label to be tested in approved labs and require manufacturers to participate in an ongoing verification testing program that will ensure continued compliance.
Enforcement. EPA and DOE have taken a series of actions in recent months to ensure compliance with both Energy Star and DOE’s appliance efficiency standards, including taking action against 35 manufacturers in the past four months. The Energy Star program helps consumers identify the products that are highly energy efficient and will save them money on utility costs, while DOE’s minimum appliance efficiency standards apply to all appliances and set a baseline energy efficiency levels for appliances.
· 7/23/09 -- DOE issued a subpoena to AeroSys Inc. to obtain the necessary test data to determine whether certain air conditioners and heat pumps comply with the applicable energy conservation standards.
- · 12/9/09 -- DOE announced that it would be aggressively enforcing reporting requirements that manufacturers are required to submit to the department certifying the energy use of residential appliance models and compliance with energy efficiency standards. DOE offered manufacturers a 30-day window to submit complete and accurate reports to the department. During that period, DOE received energy use reports from 160 different manufacturers, covering more than 600,000 residential products.
- · 1/28/10 -- DOE initiated enforcement actions against four showerhead manufacturers who failed to certify 116 product models as meeting the federal water conservation standards.
The Energy Star program already has a comprehensive system in place to ensure consumer confidence that products carrying the Energy Star label actually save energy and save them money. Specifically:
- · To receive an Energy Star label, manufacturers must submit data to the federal government showing that their product meets a set of clear, measurable energy efficiency program requirements outlined on http://www.energystar.gov
- · DOE and EPA conduct “off the shelf” and third-party testing of a wide range of products bearing the Energy Star label. For example:
- o All Energy Star qualified windows, doors, and skylights must be independently tested by the National Fenestration Rating Council, an independent nonprofit organization with rigorous testing procedures monitored and supported by DOE.
o EPA regularly conducts “off the shelf” testing to verify Energy Star compliance. For example, in 2009 EPA tested 20 TV models and 16 imaging products and found 100 percent compliance with the Energy Star label.
- o Residential Light Fixtures, compact fluorescent lights and Solid State Lighting systems (also known as LEDs) are all tested by accredited, third-party laboratories.
- · Market driven competition also provides a valuable insurance policy on the Energy Star brand. Manufacturers know that the Energy Star label is very attractive to consumers, and often test a competing product to ensure it complies with the requirements. Suspected violations can be reported to the EPA or DOE for follow-up.
- · When a violation is found, the right to use the Energy Star label is revoked, corrective measures are required and the Energy Star partnership may be terminated. For example, in 2008 under DOE pressure, LG Electronics agreed to pay back consumers for promised energy savings and provide free, in-home upgrades to improve several models of refrigerators. These cases also produce substantial unfavorable publicity for manufacturers which can be very costly and create a major disincentive for companies to violate the program requirements.
Independent Review Finds 98 percent Compliance
Violations of the Energy Star label tend to get big media attention, which is good, because it provides a strong disincentive for companies to skirt the system and risk a wave of negative coverage about their product. At the same time, consumers should be aware that in the past few years the number of violations has been quite small, especially given that more than 40,000 individual products carry the Energy Star label.
In 2009, EPA’s independent Inspector General conducted a “spot check” of the program, testing 60 Energy Star products. Fifty-nine of the 60 products met or exceeded the Energy Star requirements. One product, a specific model of printer, failed on one of three tests (not entering “sleep mode” fast enough).
More information on Energy Star: http://www.energystar.gov