Town Talk: What is Energy Star?

You may have seen the logo before when shopping for appliances and lighting. You may have even seen it on buildings or windows. But do you know why the logo is there, what it represents, and who put it there?

Energy Star is a voluntary program backed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). Energy Star is known as the symbol of “Energy Efficiency.” Since 1992, Energy Star’s main purpose or goal is helping consumers and industries save money and save the environment. Statistics supplied by Energy Star from 2017 showed Americans purchased over 300 million Energy Star certified products and more than 300 million Energy Star certified lightbulbs. Those certified items purchased resulted in saving consumers around 370 billion kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity resulting in reductions of 290 million metric tons of greenhouse gases.

Certification is achieved by passing specifications, testing procedures, and verification testing requirements for various consumer appliances, electronics, and commercial equipment. Products earning the Energy Star label must be independently tested by third-party laboratories recognized by the EPA. Besides voluntary testing, Energy Star certified products are subject to what is called “off-the-shelf” verification. Off-the-shelf testing verifies that any changes or modifications made during the manufacturing process do not undermine a product’s qualification with Energy Star requirements.

Energy Star has over 70 product categories with products being the same or better than standard products, only they use less energy. Taken from the Energy Star website, products can earn the Energy Star label by meeting the energy efficiency requirements set forth in Energy Star product specifications. EPA establishes these specifications based on the following set of key guiding principles:

Product categories must contribute significant energy savings nationwide.

Qualified products must deliver the features and performance demanded by consumers, in addition to increased energy efficiency.

If the qualified product costs more than a conventional, less-efficient counterpart, purchasers will recover their investment in increased energy efficiency through utility bill savings, within a reasonable period of time.

Energy efficiency can be achieved through broadly available, non-proprietary technologies offered by more than one manufacturer.

Product energy consumption and performance can be measured and verified with testing.

Labeling would effectively differentiate products and be visible for purchasers.

Like several utilities throughout the country. New Ulm Public Utilities (NUPU) utilizes the Energy Star label for many rebates it offers to customers, including LED lighting, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, room air conditioners, and natural gas water heaters . Utilities use the Energy Star certification to know the money rebated back to customers is going toward the most energy efficient products being sold. When looking to purchase new products, look for the Energy Star logo. Products that do not have the Energy Star logo are likely not eligible for rebates. If you have questions regarding rebates and if your purchase qualifies, please feel free to contact the NUPU. Our phone number is 507-233-2110 and our office hours are weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to comments@ci.new-ulm.mn.us.