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Energy Star

The Energy Star service mark[1] is placed on energy-efficient products.

Energy Star (trademarked ENERGY STAR) is an international standard for energy efficient consumer products originated in the United States. It was created in 1992 by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.[2][3] Since then, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, and the European Union have adopted the program. Devices carrying the Energy Star service mark, such as computer products and peripherals, kitchen appliances, buildings and other products, generally use 20–30% less energy than required by federal standards.[4] In the United States, the Energy Star label is also shown on EnergyGuide appliance label of qualifying products.


  • History 1
  • Specifications 2
    • Computers 2.1
    • Servers 2.2
    • Appliances 2.3
    • Heating and cooling systems 2.4
    • Home electronics 2.5
    • Imaging equipment 2.6
    • Lighting 2.7
    • New homes 2.8
  • Energy performance ratings 3
    • Buildings 3.1
    • Industrial facilities 3.2
    • Other facilities 3.3
  • Small business award 4
  • Controversies 5
  • Adoption in building codes 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The Energy Star program was developed by John S. Hoffman, inventor of the Green Programs at EPA, working closely with the IT industry, and implemented by Cathy Zoi and Brian Johnson.[5] The program was intended to be part of a series of voluntary programs, such as Green Lights and the Methane Programs, that would demonstrate the potential for profit in reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gases by power plants.[5]

Initiated as a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy efficient products, Energy Star began with labels for computer and printer products. In 1995 the program was significantly expanded, introducing labels for residential heating and cooling systems and new homes.[6] As of 2006, more than 40,000 Energy Star products were available in a wide range of items including major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, and more. In addition, the label can also be found on new homes and commercial and industrial buildings. In 2006, about 12 percent of new housing in the United States was labeled Energy Star.[7]

The EPA estimates that it saved about $14 billion in energy costs in 2006 alone. The Energy Star program has helped spread the use of LED traffic lights, efficient fluorescent lighting, power management systems for office equipment, and low standby energy use.[8]

In 2008, the EPA announced the Green Power Partnership program, which was designed to help achieve its goal of encouraging the use of renewable power sources. The renewable energy credits (REC) allow companies without direct access to renewable power the ability to achieve their goals. However, to avoid companies buying RECs years in advance of any of the hypothetical power ever being produced, RECs are only accepted into the program when the actual equivalent renewable power will be produced.[9]


Energy Star specifications differ with each item, and are set by either the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Energy. The following highlights product and specification information available on the Energy Star website.


Energy Star 4.0 specifications for computers became effective on July 20, 2007. The requirements are more stringent than the previous specification and existing equipment designs can no longer use the service mark unless re-qualified. They require the use of 80 Plus Bronze level or higher power supplies. Energy Star 5.0 became effective on July 1, 2009.[10][11]


The EPA released Version 1.0 of the Computer Server specifications on May 15, 2009. It covers standalone servers with one to four processor sockets. A second tier to the specification adding active state power and performance reporting for all qualified servers, as well as blade and multi-node server idle state requirements is expected in 2013.[12]


As of early 2008, average refrigerators need 20% savings over the minimum standard. Dishwashers need at least 41% savings. Most appliances as well as heating and cooling systems have a yellow EnergyGuide label showing the annual cost of operation compared to other models. This label is created through the Federal Trade Commission and often shows if an appliance is Energy Star.[13] While an Energy Star label indicates that the appliance is more energy efficient than the minimum guidelines, purchasing an Energy Star labeled product does not always mean one is getting the most energy efficient option available. For example, dehumidifiers that are rated under 25 US pints (12 L) per day of water extraction receive an Energy Star rating if they have an energy factor of 1.2 (higher is better), while those rated 25 US pints (12 L) to 35 US pints (17 L) per day receive an Energy Star rating for an energy factor of 1.4 or higher. Thus a higher-capacity but non-Energy Star rated dehumidifier may be a more energy efficient alternative than an Energy Star rated but lower-capacity model.[14] The Energy Star program's savings calculator has also been criticized for unrealistic assumptions in its model that tend to magnify savings benefits to the average consumer.[15]

Another factor yet to be considered by the EPA and DOE is the overall effect of energy-saving requirements on the durability and expected service life of a mass-market appliance built to a consumer-level cost standard. For example, a refrigerator may be made more efficient by the use of more insulative spacing and a smaller-capacity compressor using electronics to control operation and temperature. However, this may come at the cost of reduced interior storage (or increased exterior mass) or a reduced service life due to compressor or electronic failures. In particular, electronic controls used on new-generation appliances are subject to damage from shock, vibration, moisture, or power spikes on the electrical circuit to which they are attached. Critics have pointed out that even if a new appliance is energy efficient, any consumer appliance that does not provide customer satisfaction, or must be replaced twice as often as its predecessor contributes to landfill pollution and waste of natural resources used to construct its replacement.[16]

Heating and cooling systems

Energy Star qualified heat pumps, boilers, air conditioning systems, and furnaces are available. In addition, cooling and heating bills can be significantly lowered with air sealing and duct sealing. Air sealing reduces the outdoor air that penetrates a building, and duct sealing prevents attic or basement air from entering ducts and lessening the heating/cooling system’s efficiency. Energy Star qualified room air conditioners are at least 10% more energy efficient than the minimum U.S. federal government standards.[17]

Home electronics

Energy Star qualified televisions[18] use 30% less energy than average. In November 2008, television specifications were improved to limit on-mode power use, in addition to standby power which is limited by the current specifications. A wider range of Energy Star qualified televisions will be available. Other qualified home electronics include cordless phones, battery chargers, VCRs and external power adapters, most of which use 90% less energy.

Imaging equipment

The Energy Star Program Requirements for Imaging Products are focused on product families such as electrophotographic (EP) printers, inkjet printers (e.g., thermal), copiers, facsimile machines and other imaging equipment including MFD's (multifunctional devices). Typical Electrical Consumption (TEC) of a product family are measured and reported against an allowance set by the maximum throughput of the device. Operation modes (OM) are measured and reported for devices such as inkjet products against an allowance set by the functions present in the EUT (equipment under test). Devices that included "adders" such as Ethernet, on-board memory, wireless, etc. are mathematically "added" to increase the OM allowance. Recently on February 1, 2011, the EPA/DOE added the requirement that all products registered under the Energy Star service mark, must be tested by an AB (Accredited Body) or CB (Certification Body) Laboratory.


The Energy Star is awarded to only certain bulbs that meet strict efficiency, quality, and lifetime criteria.

Energy Star qualified fluorescent lighting uses 75% less energy and lasts up to ten times longer than normal incandescent lights.

Energy Star Qualified light-emitting diode (LED) Lighting:

  • Reduces energy costs — uses at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting, saving on operating expenses.
  • Reduces maintenance costs — lasts 35 to 50 times longer than incandescent lighting and about 2 to 5 times longer than fluorescent lighting. No bulb-replacements, no ladders, no ongoing disposal program.
  • Reduces cooling costs — LEDs produce very little heat.

To qualify for Energy Star certification, LED lighting products must pass a variety of tests to prove that the products will display the following characteristics:

  • Brightness is equal to or greater than existing lighting technologies (incandescent or fluorescent) and light is well distributed over the area lighted by the fixture.
  • Light output remains constant over time, only decreasing towards the end of the rated lifetime (at least 35,000 hours or 12 years based on use of 8 hours per day).
  • Excellent color quality. The shade of white light appears clear and consistent over time.
  • Efficiency is as good as or better than fluorescent lighting.
  • Light comes on instantly when turned on.
  • No flicker when dimmed.
  • No off-state power draw. The fixture does not use power when it is turned off, with the exception of external controls, whose power should not exceed 0.5 watts in the off state.

New homes

New homes that meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency can qualify for Energy Star certification. An Energy Star qualified home uses at least 15% less energy than standard homes built to the 2003 International Residential Code (IRC). They usually include properly installed insulation, high performance windows, tight construction and ducts, energy efficient cooling and heating systems, and Energy Star qualified appliances, lighting, and water heaters.[19]

Energy performance ratings

The U.S. EPA's Energy Star program has developed energy performance rating systems for several commercial and institutional building types and manufacturing facilities. These ratings, on a scale of 1 to 100, provide a means for benchmarking the energy efficiency of specific buildings and industrial plants against the energy performance of similar facilities. The ratings are used by building and energy managers to evaluate the energy performance of existing buildings and industrial plants. The rating systems are also used by EPA to determine if a building or plant can qualify to earn Energy Star recognition.[20][21]

For many types of commercial buildings, one can enter energy information into EPA's free online tool, Portfolio Manager,[22] and it will calculate a score for one's building on a scale of 1-100. Buildings that score a 75 or greater may qualify for the Energy Star. Portfolio Manager is an interactive energy management tool that allows one to track and assess energy and water consumption across one's entire portfolio of buildings in a secure online environment. Whether one owns, manages, or holds properties for investment, Portfolio Manager can help one set investment priorities, identify under-performing buildings, verify efficiency improvements, and receive EPA recognition for superior energy performance.[23] Portfolio Manager uses an automated benchmarking tool that can award Energy Star certification to buildings that have uploaded 12 months of consecutive energy usage data and received scores of 75 or above.


The number of space types that can receive the energy performance rating in Portfolio Manager is expanding and now includes housing,[7] bank/financial institutions, courthouses, hospitals (acute care and children's), hotels and motels, houses of worship, K-12 schools, medical offices, offices, residence halls/dormitories, retail stores, supermarkets, warehouses (refrigerated and non-refrigerated), data centers, senior care facilities, and wastewater facilities.[24][25]

See the technical descriptions for models used in the rating system at.[26] These documents provide detailed information on the methodologies used to create the energy performance ratings including details on rating objectives, regression techniques, and the steps applied to compute a rating. A 1-100 rating can be generated for ratable space types by entering building attributes, such as square footage and weekly operating hours, and monthly energy consumption data into Portfolio Manager, a free online tool provided by Energy Star. This process is known as benchmarking and reveals how a building's energy consumption compares to that of other similar buildings of the same space type, based on a national average. Earning a rating of 75 or above is the first step towards achieving the Energy Star for a building.

Energy Star energy performance ratings have been incorporated into some green buildings standards, such as LEED for Existing Buildings.
Energy Conservation Building Code - India

Industrial facilities

Energy performance ratings have been released for the following industrial facilities:[27]

Automobile assembly plants, cement plants, wet corn mills, container glass manufacturing, flat glass manufacturing, frozen fried potato processing plants, juice processing, petroleum refineries, and pharmaceutical manufacturing plants.[25]

Other facilities

Municipal wastewater treatment plants

Small business award

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) annually recognizes small businesses that demonstrate abilities to reduce waste, conserve energy, and recycle. The businesses use resources and ideas outlined in the Energy Star program.[28] The award was established in 1999.


On December 17, 2008, the EPA Office of the Inspector General released its report on the Energy Star program. The Inspector General's audit found that the program's claims regarding greenhouse gas reductions were inaccurate and based on faulty data. Additionally, the IG found that Energy Star program's reported energy savings were unreliable, and that many of the touted benefits could not be verified. "Deficiencies included the lack of a quality review of the data collected; reliance on estimates, forecasting, and unverified third party reporting; and the potential inclusion of exported items," the report concluded.[29]

Additionally, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Consumer Reports, and the trade website,[30] have released statements claiming that Energy Star test procedures contained loopholes that allow many inefficient products to receive Energy Star labels. Specific claims include:

  • U.S. Department of Energy regulations allowed the manufacturers to test the refrigerators with their ice-makers turned off, which is not how they are normally used in the home. However, the Energy Star requirements usually exclude refrigerators that include an ice maker because of the penetration of the ice dispenser. Some designs get around this by dispensing the ice into a tray located in the freezer.[31]
  • Using outdated testing rules and loose standards to award Energy Star ratings.
  • The program allows manufacturers to test their own products and only selectively spot-checks the test results they submit.
  • There are so many individually rated refrigerator categories that even inefficient product categories (such as side-by-sides) are certified.

Before the complaints were raised in 2008, 2006 federal court had required the DOE to update and tighten misleading Energy Star ratings given to products in almost two dozen categories, including dishwashers, air conditioners, heaters, furnaces and clothes dryers. The updates were to settle complaints by 14 states. However, categories such as room air conditioners and clothes dryers would not be completed until June 2011.[32]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had released reports in 2007 and 2008 claiming Energy Star labels were misleading. Inspector general issued a report that said Energy Star's savings claims were "not accurate or verifiable." The report also found that shipment data for Energy Star products were not being adequately reviewed and in some cases, were based on estimates instead of actual shipping totals.[33]

Martin Hellman revealed that Energy Star standby mode requirement can be compromised when an electronic device uses Download Acquisition Mode (DAM) feature to update TV Guide listing during standby mode. Hellman first found the feature on Sony KDL-37XBR6.[34]

In March 2010, a report by the Government Accountability Office stated that the Energy Star program had accepted 15 out of 20 bogus products submitted for approval. The Energy Star program had also qualified four businesses as Energy Star partners, failing to catch the fact that information on the companies, products and staff were all fictitious.[35]

Adoption in building codes

The current and projected status of energy codes and standards adoption is show in the maps at the link.[36]

The following cities have mandatory reporting requirements.

  • Austin, TX [37][38]
  • Boston, MA [39]
  • Minneapolis, MN [40]
  • New York, NY [41][42]
  • Philadelphia, PA [43]
  • San Francisco, CA [44]
  • Seattle, WA [45][45]
  • Washington, DC [46]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^, “Milestones: Energy Star.” 2007. Retrieved on 1 March 2008.
  7. ^ a b U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "2006 Annual Report: Energy Star and Other Climate Protection Partnerships.". Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  8. ^, "History: Energy Star.". Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Computers with any Energy Star version installed will display its logo, or a rosette and the company's slogan when running the BIOS after turning the machine on.
  11. ^
  12. ^, "Energy Star - Computer Servers - Version 2.0 Specification". Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  13. ^, "Learn More about EnergyGuide: Energy Star.". Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  14. ^ Green Energy Efficient Homes, Energy Efficient Dehumidifiers
  15. ^ Belzer, Richard Energy Star Appliances: EPA's Savings Calculator Exaggerates Savings, Regulatory Economics, 5 March 2008
  16. ^ Muñoz, Sara Schaeffer, Do 'Green' Appliances Live Up To Their Billing, The Wall Street Journal, Business, 2 August 2007
  17. ^
  18. ^ California Sustainability Alliance Energy Star Televisions, Received July 24th, 2010
  19. ^
  20. ^ Energy Star - Evaluate Performance Energy
  21. ^ Energy Star Benchmark Energy
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ a b
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Environmental News Service, Energy Star Climate Change Claims Misleading, Audit Finds, Washington, D.C., 31 December 2008
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ Why Obama’s Energy Savings Estimate May Be Skewed
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ |title= Building Energy Codes Program
  37. ^ |title= Austin, TX Benchmarking Ordinance
  38. ^ Austin, TX Benchmarking Ordinance
  39. ^ Boston Mandates Energy Benchmarking
  40. ^ Minneapolis, MN Benchmarking FAQs
  41. ^ New York, NY Benchmarking Summary Website
  42. ^ New York, NY Benchmarking Plan
  43. ^ Philadelphia, PA Benchmarking
  44. ^ San Francisco, CA Benchmarking
  45. ^ a b Seattle, WA Benchmarking
  46. ^ Washington, D.C. Benchmarking

External links

  • Energy Star
  • Energy Star Australia
  • Energy Star Canada
  • Energy Consumption Calculator
  • Energy Star entry at
  • Energy Efficiency Breakdown of the costs, savings, and energy efficiency of Energy Star appliances
  • Energy Star qualified Energy Service & Product Providers list
  • EPA recognized Certification Bodies (CBs) and Laboratories
  • Energy Star 5.0 Computer specification (November 14, 2008)
  • 10 CFR 430, Subpart B, Appendix A to Subpart B of Part 430 - Uniform Test Method for Measuring the Energy Consumption of Electric Refrigerators and Electric Refrigerator-Freezers
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