Consumer Energy Report is now Energy Trends Insider -- Read More »

By Shay Bapple on Mar 24, 2010 with 3 responses

Federal Agencies Clamp Down on Energy Eaters

Manufacturers will have to work much harder to earn the right to affix the ENERGY STAR logo to their products.

The Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency are raising the standards for appliance manufacturers who wish to promote their wares as being energy efficient by brandishing the ENERGY STAR label. They claim that their program has been effective in helping Americans reduce energy bills for years and that the current economic climate makes it that much more imperative that products which are labeled ENERGY STAR are, indeed, efficient.

The new regulations will entail a two-step process using an independent third party to test products for their energy efficiency in addition to the current regulations the program already employs.

Initially, the DOE will focus on testing the six most common product types: Freezers, refrigerators, clothes washers, dishwashers, water heaters and room air conditioning units. The DOE says that they will test about 200 basic models in independent labs over the next few months. Secondly, any manufacturer seeking the ENERGY STAR label will have to participate in ongoing verification testing to ensure continued compliance.

The change comes in response to concerns that inefficient appliances bearing the well-known ENERGY STAR insignia have devalued the label. The DOE has taken action against 35 manufacturers over the past four months for producing inefficient products bearing the DOE’s efficiency label.  Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Cathy Zoi, said that these new measures will strengthen the reputation of the program.

“Consumers have long trusted the ENERGY STAR brand for products that will save them energy and save them money,” said Zoi in an DOE statement. “The steps we are taking now will further strengthen and improve the program, building on the results that consumers have come expect.”

The new steps already add to a program that requires manufacturers to submit product data to the Federal Government showing their product meets guidelines outlined by ENERGY STAR. The DOE also must be allowed to conduct off-the-shelf tests to the products for compliance. Light fixtures, windows, doors and skylights are also to be tested in specialized facilities for product specific qualifications.

So far in 2010, the EPA disqualified 34 compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) models from 25 manufacturers that did not meet criteria for energy efficient CFL bulbs. They also acted against 4 shower head manufacturers who failed to certify 116 product models that did not meet federal water conservation standards. Further, the EPA terminated their ENERGY STAR partnership with U.S. Inc/U.S. Refrigeration because of failed compliance and misuse of ENERGY STAR logos.

One product manufacturer is not taking their revoked partner status lying down however. LG has a filed civil complaint against the DOE for their forcing of the refrigerator manufacturer to remove all of the ENERGY STAR labels off of certain refrigerator models.

LG claims that they were not given a fair notice of the EPA testing standard change and neither was the rest of the industry. According to court documents, LG claims that the law requires that the industry should have sufficient time for comment and compliance.

Despite the recent revelations about possible abuse, the EPA considers its ENERGY STAR program a success.  They base that accomplishment on their belief that the violations have been relatively few over the past few years, considering there are more than 40,000 products that carry the ENERGY STAR label.

  1. By CEA on March 25, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Although awareness about energy efficiency and conservation has increased, the average American household still expends a startling amount of energy each year. The U.S. currently accounts for approximately 43 percent of daily global gasoline consumption by consuming almost nine million barrels every day. In fact, the average American household was estimated to have spent approximately $2,400 on gasoline in 2005. This amount is more than half of what the average household spent on total energy costs for that same year. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. energy consumption will increase by approximately 40 percent in the next two decades, which equals the combined current energy consumption in California, Texas, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois. By pushing better and better means of energy efficiency, we as a nation can ease our transition to an economy not ruled by foreign oil prices, but by our own efforts.
    Want to learn more about balanced energy for America? Visit http://www.consumerenergyalliance.org to get involved, discover CEA’s mission and sign up for our informative newsletter.

    [link]      
  2. By S. Mark Florence on April 5, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    This seems like a really good move on the part of the Energy Star Program. Whether you want to call it greenwashing or something else, with loose standards and even less enforcement, it is easy for manufacturers to brand their products as being Energy Star compliant without meeting the proper requirements. I commend both the DOE and the EPA for taking the initiative to hold all product manufacturers to a higher standard and call for independent off-the-shelf testing. Unless efficiency measures are properly implemented, people will continue to look at people promoting energy efficiency as snake oil salesmen.

    [link]      
  3. By russ on April 10, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    An excellent program that provides the consumer a chance to evaluate different units – providing the data provided by the manufacturer is correct.

    İt is not just seeing the energy star logo on the product but looking up the specs as there is normally a wide consumption range between products supplied by different companies and even between products from the same manufacturer. All the data is available online to anyone who looks for it at the Energy Star site.

    Quite possibly they should put some teeth into the whole thing where when the manufacturer (like LG) lies about their product they can be punished.

    [link]      
Register or log in now to save your comments and get priority moderation!