EPA and DoE Tightening Up on Energy Star Testing
Photo by Robert S Donovan via Flickr CC
Americans are ready for a tightening up of Energy Star testing and so too, apparently, are the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. While an independent review found a 98% compliance, there are definitely cases where Energy Star-rated devices aren't really meeting the standards. The two agencies last week made an announcement of a series of steps to further strengthen Energy Star testing and reporting so that the label maintains meaning and importance in a market increasingly filled with label after label after label. They're starting with the most common household appliances, which comprise 25% of a household's energy bill. The announcement states, "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... [B]oth 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."
Not just save families money, but save Energy Star face as well. The label has been criticized for not being stringent enough about standards, making it too easy for practically every electronic to earn the label and therefore taking some of the meaning away from consumers trying to make product selections. However, Energy Star is working hard to stay on top of both tight standards, and tight testing requirements.
"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."
The DOE began tests last week on six of the most common product types: freezers, refrigerator-freezers, clothes washers, dishwashers, water heaters and room air conditioners. These are some of the biggest energy hogs in households since practically everyone has them, and they're used all day long every day. The testing is important, especially after we continue to hear stories about how some companies bend the rules during tests. The incident with LG refrigerators is certainly part of this step-up. DOE will test approximately 200 basic models at third-party, independent test laboratories over the next few months.
Also, the EPA and DOE are creating an expanded system - one that seems like it should have been in place from the very beginning. The program 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.
And the agencies are growing some teeth, taking action against companies who fail to comply with the requirements of the label. They've taken action against 35 manufacturers in the last four months alone. That's good news for consumers, who want to be sure they can trust in what they're purchasing.
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