It has almost become a mantra for those trying to save money on energy when purchasing new appliances: Make sure that when you purchase an appliance, it has an Energy Star rating to save money. It seems that the Energy Star rating may not mean as much as many of us have been lead to believe. From a story in the Wall Street Journal’s Real Estate Journal:
While the (Energy Star) designation was originally supposed to apply to the 25% of products in any category that were most energy-efficient, the label is on 85% of all new dishwashers and 98% of desktop computers…
There is also problems with testing of some appliances in the program:
On the other extreme are tests like the ones for televisions. These procedures were devised eight years ago and require sets to be plugged in, but turned off. Yet the average plasma TV uses 80% to 90% of its energy when turned on. And until 2003, dishwashers with special soil-sensing ability were tested with clean, not dirty, dishes.
The problem doesn’t stop with the program. Retailers, knowing that Energy Star appliances can bring in higher selling prices, can mislabel appliances for unknowing consumers:
On a visit to a Best Buy store in Manhattan, we found an entire row of clothes dryers, all bearing big, oversize Energy Star stickers. Nothing would have looked out of the ordinary to the average shopper. But since all dryers consume roughly the same amount of energy, the category doesn’t qualify for an Energy Star label.
This doesn’t mean that the Energy Star label has no merit, but it does mean you need to look deeper than the sticker on the appliance to make sure you’re getting the energy savings that you have likely taken for granted until this point. Still look for the Energy Star label, but also take the time to compare the manufacturer’s numbers and compare them to other manufacturers. Energy Star is a good first step, but to make sure that you are really saving money you need do further research on your own instead of relying solely on the Energy Star label.