Energy Star is a rating system established to help consumers to procure products that will make their homes and businesses more energy efficient. The rigorous standards of the Energy Star rating ensure that products reach predetermined levels of efficiency without sacrificing performance or features. The US Department of Energy and the EPA have set the Energy Star standards that, in 2010, saved Americans $18 billion on utilities and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 33 million cars off the road. In Canada, Energy Star products must meet the Canadian Federal Energy Efficiency Standards to qualify for the iconic blue label.
Energy Star certifications can be found on all major household appliances and consumer electronics including residential ventilation, heating and cooling equipment, windows and doors and lighting as well as office and commercial equipment.
Are Energy Star appliances really that much better? In a word, yes, but it will depend on which products you buy and how many of your home features you decide to change. A refrigerator that is older than twelve years uses twice as much electricity as one that is Energy Star approved. This means you can cut your beer cooling costs significantly from $100 to $50 dollars annually. Is your washer over ten years old? Then a new Energy Star model can save you about $135 dollars a year. You can save $250 on a water heater, $300 on AC and $100 on your furnace costs. Save a whopping $125 by changing your light bulbs; and don’t worry, there are have been some surprisingly good developments in lighting that make those cold blue CFLs and LEDs (thankfully) a distant memory. Switching all your appliances and light bulbs will see you save just over $1000 a year.
Energy Star products vary in price, but are not generally more expensive than their electricity guzzling counterparts. Many states and provinces give incentives that help to reduce the costs of replacing your appliances. Ontario has the ecoENERGY initiative that will compensate home and business owners who opt for Energy Star products. If your fridge is over 15 years old, the saveONenergy initiative will organize to pick up your aging appliance for free and recycle it responsibly. They will also give you saveONenergy coupons for your old fridge which you can redeem to reduce the price of your new one.
You can recognize Energy Star products by their labels. Canadian buyers can find a list of Energy Star appliances at the Office of Energy Efficiency website while American buyers can search for products on the Energy Star website.
Not only does the use of Energy Star products contribute significantly to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and earn you brownie points with mother earth, they also save you thousands of dollars on utility fees. You can still choose your favourite brands, and you don’t need to sacrifice comfort or the features on your appliances that you know and love; all you have to do is sit back and save. If you are throwing out your old appliances, recycle them responsibly. More on how to do so in next week’s blog.