ENERGY STAR is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy that provides simple-to-spot labels which signal energy-saving homes, appliances and products. Established in 1992, ENERGY STAR helps homeowners both help the environment and save money with ENERGY STAR certified products and programs for the entire home that meet strict energy efficiency guidelines as determined by the EPA and DOE.
The results of this effort continue to add up: In the last year alone, ENERGY STAR certified products allowed Americans to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 27 million cars while saving a grand total of $16 billion on their utility bills.
On a household level, typical annual energy spending is $1,900, so the opportunity to trim up to 30% off of that amount with ENERGY STAR efficiencies is worth looking into. New product specs are constantly being added to the ENERGY STAR roster, and here are the current household items you can find in stores:
- Appliances: Battery chargers, clothes washers, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers, room air conditioners, room air cleaners, and water coolers.
- Heating and cooling: air-source heat pumps, boilers, central air conditioners, ceiling fans, dehumidifiers, furnaces, geothermal heat pumps, home sealing (insulation), light commercial, programmable thermostats, room air conditioners, and ventilating fans.
- Home envelope: Home sealing (insulation and air sealing), roof products, windows, doors and skylights.
- Home electronics: Battery charging systems, cordless phones, combination units, digital-to-analog converter boxes (DTAs), DVD products, external power adapters, home audio, televisions and VCRs.
- Office equipment: Computers, copiers and fax machines, digital duplicators, mailing machines, external power adapters, monitors, notebook computers/tablet PCs, printers, scanners and all-in-ones.
- Lighting: Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), residential light fixtures, ceiling fans, exit signs, and decorative light strings (DLS).
ENERGY STAR also offers useful programs for home improvements that help homes and businesses become more energy efficient.
You can get a helpful analysis of your home’s energy use by gathering utility bills from the past 12 months and spending about five minutes of your online time with the ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick
. After the numbers are punched in, this nifty tool will compare your home’s efficiency with that of similar homes around the country and provide recommendations for ENERGY STAR fixes to lower your bills.
For even more specific analysis, the site can point you in the direction of a professional qualified to perform a comprehensive home energy audit
Need more tips? Check out the ENERGY STAR video podcast
, hosted by Tom Kraeutler, for a room by room guide to the possibilities.