Federal Agencies Clamp Down on Energy Eaters
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.