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Energy Star

Energy Star - the simple way to save

Efficient energy use is one of the best ways, along with investment in renewable energy like solar power, to save money while saving the environment. To cut the national energy bill and reduce pollution and emissions of carbon dioxide (the gas most responsible for global warming), the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency created the Energy Star label, in 1992, for energy-efficient products. The Energy Star program is designed to make the public aware of how much energy is consumed by the products they use everyday and how they can save money and help the environment simply by choosing one product over another. At the same time, since the label is an effective marketing tool, it provides manufacturers with an incentive to build energy-efficient products.

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Energy Star Water Heater

Energy star water heaters carrying the Energy Star Logo are the most popular appliances sold.  Solar water heaters are Energy Star rated and are also covered by the 30% Federal Tax Credit for solar energy products.

How does a product get the Energy Star logo label?

It begins with the Department of Energy “Energy Guide” label, the familiar yellow tag that stores require on all major home appliances. This label indicates the results of testing according to the Department of Energy’s standard procedures. The label lists how much energy the appliance uses, compared with similar products, and the approximate annual operating costs. (Estimated yearly operating costs are based on the national average cost of electricity.)

If the product has met the specific criteria for its particular category -- typically a percent reduction in energy consumption versus other products in the same category -- the yellow tag will have an Energy Star logo label on it.

Specific categories include:

  • Appliance: clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators and room air conditioners
  • Heating and cooling: central air conditioners, furnaces and programmable thermostats
  • Home envelope: windows, roofing materials and insulation
  • Home electronics: televisions, VCR's, DVD players and home audio systems
  • Office equipment: computers, monitors, photocopiers, notebook computers and printers
  • Lighting: fixtures and bulbs
  • Commercial products: exit signs, vending machines and water coolers.

What is an Energy Star Home?

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy state that any new home with fewer than three stories can earn the Energy Star blue label if it’s at least 15 percent more efficient than the 2004 International Residential Code. It must meet guidelines for:

  • Effective insulation
  • High-performance windows
  • Tight construction and ducts
  • Efficient heating and cooling equipment
  • Efficient products (Energy Star labeled appliances)
  • Third-party verification (18 states require this)

A home may also qualify for an Energy Star Indoor Air package label. The home must first have an Energy Star label, and then it has to meet 60 additional home design and construction standards that improve the indoor air quality. About 3,500 home builders have partnered with the EPA to construct 750,000 Energy Star-qualified homes.

What is the International Residential Code?

The International Residential Code sets regulations for building, plumbing, mechanical, fuel gas, energy, and electrical procedures. The International Energy Conservation Code is a similar code that encourages energy conservation through efficiency in envelope design, mechanical systems and lighting systems. Most states have their own energy code requirements.

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Source:  US Department of Energy - Energy Star

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