What Exactly Is ENERGY STAR Anyway?

Nearly everywhere you go you hear about ENERGY STAR®, and that little baby blue symbol seems to appear on everything you see these days.  You probably know it’s a good thing, that it can provide rebates and tax credits, but you may be wondering what exactly it is and where it came from.

Initially labeling computers and monitors, the program eventually joined up with the Department of Energy to begin labeling major appliances (refrigerators, washers, driers, etc.), home electronics, office equipment, home improvement items, and more.  Based on product-specific measurements, products are tested to determine if they fall within the acceptable energy output range.

Although they haven’t solved all the energy waste problems in the US, what ENERGY STAR has done is create energy standards in numerous industries—including electronics, lighting, home appliances, and home improvement—forcing producers to design more efficient products, because they know that people are now actively looking for products with the ENERGY STAR label.  ENERGY STAR claims to have saved Americans 18 billion dollars in 2010, which is no small chunk of change.

Does your home need more ENERGY STAR products?
It never hurts to have ENERGY STAR products in your home, as they will always save more on energy bills when compared to non-ENERGY STAR products.  Their website offers a handy tool for calculating just how energy efficient your home is by comparing your energy costs with those of your neighbors.

What ENERGY STAR products save the most money?
If you had to change one thing in your home in order to save money on energy bills, it should probably be the replacement windows.  Poor windows let in a lot of cold in the winter and a lot of warmth in the summer, making it necessary for you to spend more on heating and air conditioning.  Unfortunately, replacing the windows in your home can be expensive; however, in the long run they will decrease energy bills significantly and increase the resale value of your home.

Despite their often greater purchase costs, one of the qualifications of an ENERGY STAR rating is that: “purchasers will recover their investment in increased energy efficiency through utility bill savings.”  In theory, this means that you should ALWAYS save money in the long run with an ENERGY STAR product.

If you are thinking of going “green” with your home, ENERGY STAR products are a good place to start.  Simply by purchasing these products you are helping in the government’s commitment to more energy efficient products, and in the end that helps make the world a better, less wasteful place.

Geoffrey Hoesch works for Potomac View Energy, which sells vinyl replacement windows, siding, doors, and solar water heating systems in Maryland.  He, as well as his company, believes in energy efficient upgrades for the home and focuses on offering only products that further this goal.