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What Is an Energy Star Rating? And Why Should It Matter to You?

Energy Star logo

What Is an Energy Star Rating? And Why Should It Matter to You?

Energy Star = Efficiency

The Energy Star program is a joint venture between the United States EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the DoE (Department of Energy).

It initially concerned itself with larger projects like electricity generation but has since expanded into areas like consumer electronics, lighting, computers, and household appliances.

Appliances that attain a level of energy efficiency set for that product category can place the Energy Star Mark on their packaging and marketing material.

The Energy Star Program Is Voluntary

While the Energy Star program isn’t voluntary (yet), manufacturers know it’s good for business as customers become more conscious of energy costs and their carbon footprint.

For an energy-guzzling appliance like an electrical water heater or air conditioner, the higher showroom cost of the appliance is usually recovered within a couple of years through lower energy bills.

The Energy Star Program Is Not Limited to Appliances

While the program is most closely associated with household appliances, it also encompasses electronics and lighting products and office equipment like computers and printers.

Any product that uses energy can participate in the program. Even companies engaged in larger projects such as factories, data centers, and commercial buildings can earn the Energy Star rating.

The potential benefits of the Energy Star program are significant for businesses and consumers alike, from saving money on energy bills to reducing the environmental impact of our everyday lives.

So, next time you’re in the market for a new appliance or electronic device, keep an eye out for that little blue star. It could save you a lot of money — and help the planet too.

What’s an Energy Star Rating or Badge?

Appliances awarded the Energy Star badge are more efficient than other products. They cost less to run and, as a result, are responsible for fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Why Energy Star Matters for the Environment

Emissions, you say? I thought electricity was clean?

It is, compared to fossil fuel, but something has to generate that electricity. In the United States and most of the world, fossil fuel creates the heat to turn the electrical turbines.

As of 2017, 34% of US electrical plants were powered by natural gas, and 30% were still powered by coal. SOURCE: The Washington Post.

Even California still has a couple of coal-fired plants running!

Clean solar and wind energy have a carbon footprint, though much smaller than fossil fuel. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to mine, forge, and refine the metals and materials for a windmill, manufacture it, transport it hundreds or even thousands of miles, and assemble it in place. It must be hooked up with heavy power lines to the grid and maintained at regular intervals.

So it’s easy enough to see that any reduction in your total energy use is good for the environment.

Efficiency vs. Reliability

Energy Star standards differ by product but always represent a significant saving in running costs.

In the beginning, efficiency sometimes came at the cost of reliability. But Energy Star products have been around long enough now that many manufacturers are designing for efficiency and reliability at the same time.

The most energy-efficient appliances tend to be smaller, more efficient versions of existing models. For example, the new microwave might use a quarter less electricity than your old one.

If you’re looking to upgrade an older appliance with Energy Star performance, the savings could quickly add up.

Tax Credits for Energy Star Products

As of this writing, federal tax credits for purchasing Energy Star products have expired, though Congress is considering another round of credits.

From the Energy Star website:

“The current tax credits for Residential Energy Efficiency (Equipment Tax Credits for Primary Residences) expired on December 31, 2021. As of January 5, 2022, there is no approved extension of these tax credits. Any extension/renewal of these credits is still pending approved legislation by Congress… The tax credits for Residential Renewable Energy Products are still effective, as written on this site, through December 31, 2023.”

The federal government still offers tax credits for installing solar panels, wind generators, and other renewable energy sources. These credits are valuable, but not as much as what you’d save on your utility bills with Energy Star appliances and electronics.

So even though the tax credit for Energy Star products has expired, it’s still a very worthwhile investment to purchase an Energy Star appliance.

Saving money and helping the environment? What could be better?

Ultimately, the benefits of Energy Star ratings are twofold: they save you money on your energy bills while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and your impact on the environment. So keep an eye out for that little blue star! It just might make a big difference.

Contact Chief to Install Your Energy Star HVAC System

Do you have an older HVAC system (heating, air conditioning, and ventilation) on its last legs? Contact West Coast Repair today!

Our Energy Star-rated systems will save you money while keeping you comfortable. We’ll help you choose the right size and model for your home’s needs. All estimates for installation are free.