September 30, 2014

Energy Star Might Not be Such a Star

Most consumers who are shopping for a new, energy efficient appliance know to look for the Blue EnergyStar label.  The Energy Star label alerts shoppers to supposedly very energy efficient appliances.  Many appliances also have a yellow energy guide label.  That label tells shoppers specifically how much energy they can save by buying that particular appliance. 

Buying an efficient appliance really can help save money by saving energy.  Over the past five years, the nation has saved over $61 billion according to the Web site EnergyStar.gov.  That translates to a reduction of greenhouse gases equal to taking half the country’s vehicles off the roads for one year.

There’s a problem though, according to Business Week, consumer and environmental groups say it’s often too easy for companies to win the right to display the star. According to descriptions from the Department of Energy (DOE), which manages the Energy Star appliance program, the coveted logo should ideally appear on dishwashers, refrigerators, and other appliances that score in the top 25% for energy efficiency in their categories. But in 2007 some 60% of all dishwasher models on the market qualified, the DOE says. The year before, 92% of them hit the mark. “If the DOE gives Energy Star to everyone, eventually it’s worthless,” says David B. Goldstein, a director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

NO INDEPENDENT AUDITS

This past summer the nonprofit Consumers Union complained that some companies were gaming the system. Its testing labs discovered that two refrigerators—one from Samsung and one from LG Electronics—displayed the logos but only measured up if their icemakers were switched off. When the icemakers were on, the machines exceeded the power consumption stated on their Energy Star labels by 65% and by more than 100%, respectively. “Consumers don’t buy a fridge with this sort or feature to leave it off,” says Steven Saltzman, a deputy editor at Consumer Reports. It turned out that when the refrigerator rule was revised in 2001 and 2004, the icemaking feature was rare for this type of model, and there was no requirement to turn it on during the tests. Spokespeople from both LG and Samsung say the companies are in full compliance with DOE standards.

Critics also gripe that there is no independent auditor for appliance testing. The DOE can spot-check products, but it mainly relies on companies to test rivals’ wares and to complain if something looks fishy. Such complaints are rare—and it’s not just consumers who suffer. Federal and state governments require the Energy Star for billions of dollars of purchases each year. Last month, Texas offered a statewide sales-tax-free day for Energy Star goods. If the mark loses credibility, that could weaken official efforts to improve efficiency.

Until this issue is resolved, read those yellow labels carefully, the fact that an appliance carries the Energy Star label no longer seems to mean that it meets the highest standards of efficiency.

Whirlpool Earns Third Energy Star Award

Whirlpool Corp. has been recognized with its third consecutive ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence award. Provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the award honors Whirlpool Corp.’s contribution to providing innovative efficient products that help consumers reduce utility bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

Whirlpool will accept the award at ceremonies in Washington, D.C., on April 1, 2008. This is the company’s ninth ENERGY STAR award win.

“Whirlpool Corporation is proud to again receive the ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence award,” said Mike Todman, president, Whirlpool North America. “At Whirlpool, we believe that focusing on energy, water and the environment isn’t about narrowing the field of choices, it’s about broadening horizons. We continually strive for efficiency improvements while always keeping in mind that exceeding the expectations of the consumer is our goal.”

The company has been a long-term ENERGY STAR partner, helping create the guidelines for the Green Lights Program, the EPA’s precursor to the appliance ENERGY STAR program. “We are proud to recognize Whirlpool Corporation’s continued efforts with the 2008 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence award,” said Robert J. Meyers, principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air & Radiation. “Year after year partners like Whirlpool are examples of the benefits of a long-term commitment to energy efficiency. Their actions are leading the way in saving energy and helping to protect the environment.”

While other appliance manufacturers have been talking about sustainability, Whirlpool Corporation has been taking action for more than 30 years. The company is the global industry leader in developing high-performance appliances that help conserve the earth’s resources and allow homeowners to use energy and water more efficiently. It is the only appliance manufacturer that brings an “across the board” focus to energy and water conservation, from design to manufacture and distribution, to the end of the product life-cycle.

Whirlpool Corporation offers consumers the largest breadth of ENERGY STAR qualified appliances. Its more than 700 innovative models include:
The Whirlpool(R) Duet(R) Steam Washer. The washer naturally steams away tough stains, from grass to grease, without pre-treating. This model also saves consumers 73 percent water and 77 percent energy, compared to top-load washers manufactured before 2004, and using the normal cycle.
The Whirlpool(R) Cabrio(R) Steam Dryer combines mist and heat in the dryer to naturally steam away wrinkles and odors, reducing trips to the dry cleaner and providing front-load laundry efficiency in a top-load configuration.
Energy efficient refrigeration combined with flexible technology options through the Whirlpool(R) centralpark(TM) connection. The refrigerator offers a plug-and-play platform right on the door, providing support to consumer electronics including a digital picture frame and digital music player without compromising on energy efficiency.
The Maytag(R) Bravos(TM) high-efficiency, large-capacity top-load washer. The Bravos system features an impeller wash system with Sensi-Care technology and a commercial-grade stainless-steel wash basket – providing the thorough, dependable clean of a front-load system in a top-load configuration.
The Maytag(R) EPICz(TM) high-efficiency front-load washer’s space-saving design, providing dependable performance features and commercial-grade components, is one of the most energy efficient in the industry. The washer received NSF International (formerly National Sanitation Foundation) certification for its sanitary cycle, which heats wash water up to 153-DegF.
The Maytag brand Dishwasher with a SteamClean option. SteamClean delivers enhanced cleaning performance on glassware for soil and spot removal.. Whirlpool Corporation was the first in the appliance industry to launch a steam option in dishwashers.
A new SteamClean option for Jenn-Air brand dishwashers. The SteamClean option enhances an existing wash cycle, such as the China/Crystal cycle, with improved soil and spot cleaning to produce an even more lustrous shine. In addition to steam, these models also have a new silent sound package, making an already quiet, energy efficient dishwasher even quieter.

Whirlpool works to exceed expectations with appliances that help building professionals create homes of distinction. For this purpose, the company developed – The Inside Advantage(TM). This targeted program offers Powerful Brands, Innovative Products, Targeted Services and Consumer Insight to support building professionals. By staying closely involved with the building industry, Whirlpool Corporation is able to help support sustainable construction that ultimately saves energy and natural resources while providing homebuyers with comfortable, efficient and healthy homes.