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The Science Behind Energy Star

05/30/15

When you think of Energy Star, what comes to mind? Perhaps energy efficiency, reduced utility costs, environmentally friendliness – many things can be associated with Energy Star. Most people like the fact that Energy Star certified products are designed to reduce energy consumption, which translates into huge monetary savings.

Energy Star certified products are built to a different standard than products built according to traditional manufacturing methods. They are specifically developed to reduce energy use by a minimum of 15%, regardless of the product. That means Energy Star certified products will save a minimum of 15% compared to their non-certified counterparts – and often the savings are even greater!

Consider common household appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers: An energy-efficient refrigerator could consume 40% less energy than a comparable non-Energy Star model. Did you know a 20-year-old dishwasher may use up to five times as much water per cycle than an Energy Star certified dishwasher?

So how are products examined and evaluated to determine their worthiness of the Energy Star label?

Because Energy Star is a government program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), strict EPA guidelines and regulations must be met for a product to attain the Energy Star label. This includes stringent testing and evaluation of energy-efficient products to ensure they save as much energy as claimed. Rigorous lab work is required to determine energy-efficient performance.

What kinds of laboratories complete Energy Star testing? Because trusted and reliable laboratories are needed, EPA relies on accredited labs. The laboratories must meet strict ISO 17025 accreditation specifications to test products. For a laboratory to work within the EPA's scope of requirements, they must develop and maintain testing procedures for each accredited Energy Star testing method that explains how the testing will be conducted in the specific lab. The laboratory must be able to meet the requirements to gain the ISO 17025 accreditation required by EPA. 

These laboratories complete product testing and relay the information to the EPA to help determine which products get the sought-after Energy Star label.