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Consumers are conscious of the global energy crisis.

Couple Looking at Energy Guide

When choosing a product, it’s important to consider its environmental impact and the continued effects it will have upon future generations. Since its inception, the US ENERGY STAR program has been tackling the energy crisis head-on, saving consumers over $430 billion on utility bills and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 2.4 billion metric tons.1 In this article, we explore why ENERGY STAR is still performing so well.

Energy Star

Overconsumption is a principal cause of the energy crisis, with the most evident by-product being pollution and the substantial increase of greenhouse gasses.

Introduced in 1992 by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ENERGY STAR is a voluntary labelling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products.Its inception began a concerted effort to look at energy consumption levels for enacted appliances, in both the residential and commercial environments. 

As the ENERGY STAR program has grown, it has embraced all relevant stakeholders, including utility companies, advocacy groups, appliance manufacturers and the end consumer. It is understood that progress cannot be made in reducing the US’s energy consumption, without the active participation of all stakeholders.

The ENERGY STAR program has expanded its scope to cover not only enacted appliances, but also office/IT equipment, consumer electronics (like televisions), and luminaries. It has also become a global initiative, being adapted by over 10 authorities and countries, including the EU, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Taiwan.2 Each of these authorities has implemented the ENERGY STAR program for some, or all, of their electronic devices. Any product, no matter where in the world, that bears the ENERGY STAR label, meets the EPA regulations for that product. 

Succeeding by Working Together

Manufacturers have taken great strides in creating more energy efficient products. Consumers can go into any home improvement or appliance store and see home appliances with FTC yellow tags, designating their annual energy usage.

This transition to more energy efficient appliances has not been without its struggles. Some products have become more energy efficient at the expense of performance, with end consumers complaining of dishwashers that don’t clean dishes and washing machines and dryers that require several cycles to do their job. It is very important that a reduction in energy usage does not overshadow the performance of the product. Manufacturers may want to shift their focus to creating resources based on new IoT, regeneration, battery backup, and other types of products that, when combined with energy efficient products will drive energy usage down, without sacrificing performance. 

Thankfully, all the stakeholders in the energy space are committed to reducing energy usage and its by-products. When one stakeholder stalls, another is able to move the country forward to achieve the overall goal. Energy companies have worked hard to initiate more efficient energy creation, with less toxic by-products entering the environment. Since the start of the program, they have been able to report a reduction of 2.4 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.1

One of the by-products of energy creation is the greenhouse gas, SF6.3 There is no way to completely remove SF6 emissions from the energy creation cycle, so the EPA and their utility company partners have been working together since 1999 to reduce the amount of this greenhouse gas in several different ways. This partnership has been highly successful, with a 75% reduction of SF6 between 1999 to 2014.4 This initiative has required the collaboration of over 86 nation-wide partners, in almost every state, utility companies and the EPA. They are all still working hard to find even better solutions for all the energy issues facing the United States. These efforts include introducing smart meters to households and employing other smart technologies to measure energy usage.

The final stakeholder in this equation is the consumer. ENERGY STAR was created to help the consumer make better decisions about the products they use in their homes and businesses. Figures from 2015 show ENERGY STAR certified products have helped Americans save 503 kWH of energy and $34 billion dollars on their energy bills.1 The program is working, but its success ultimately depends upon the consumer and their choices. Transparency is key. ENERGY STAR, manufacturers, advocacy groups and the utility companies must work together to make it clear to the consumer how much a particular product will save them in energy. In addition, they must make the environmental impacts of their choices clear.

Consumers need to be informed to know if the model they want is ENERGY STAR listed. Before they purchase a product, they should research this by accessing the information on the ENERGY STAR, manufacturers’, or retailers’ website.

SGS: The Right Partner to Help Improve Your Product’s Energy Star Rating

Stakeholders have made great progress in reducing their energy consumption but there is still more to be done. The ENERGY STAR program provides the right framework to help the industry achieve its overall goals.

With its status as a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) in the US, and its accreditation by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), SGS can help you achieve compliance with the relevant US and Canadian electrical and electronics regulations covering energy efficiency, product safety, electromagnetic compatibility, hazardous substances, performance and reliability. 

SGS is an EPA-recognized testing laboratory. We are authorized to test appliances, consumer electronics, luminaries, and IT equipment to the applicable ENERGY STAR standards. We can also measure the energy efficiency of an appliance seeking ENERGY STAR certification, based on Department of Energy specifications and test parameters. Our US, Taiwan, and China laboratories are also approved as EPA-recognized certification bodies, and SGS is empowered to certify a product’s ENERGY STAR eligibility and submit the relevant documentation to the EPA on behalf of the manufacturer.

SGS has the capacity to support businesses looking to produce better, more energy efficient EE products. Whether it’s testing, inspection, certification, compliance assurance, outsourcing, training or auditing, SGS has the service to support your business.

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For more information on how SGS can help you improve your product’s energy efficiency, please visit SGS Electrical and Electoronics or contact:

Douglas Czerwonka
Technical Manager
CRS Electrical & Electronics
SGS North America Inc
Suwanee Laboratory
t: +1 201-508-3000

References:

1 About ENERGY STAR
2 ENERGY STAR Index
3 SF6 2014 Annual Report
4 SF6 Emission Reduction Partnership for Electric Power Systems: 2017 Program Update