March 19, 2010
EPA, DOE Announce New Steps to Strengthen ENERGY STAR
(DOE) WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy today outlined a
series of steps to further strengthen the trusted ENERGY STAR®
program. This action comes at a critical time for American
consumers, many of whom struggle to keep up with their monthly
energy bills. In addition to third-party testing already underway,
EPA and DOE have launched a new two-step process to expand testing
of ENERGY STAR® qualified products. This week, DOE began testing of
some of the most commonly used appliances, which account for more
than 25% of a household’s energy bill, and both agencies are now
developing a system to test all products that earn the ENERGY STAR
label. The steps are part of an overall effort by the Obama
Administration to improve the energy efficiency of homes and
appliances to save families money.
“Energy efficiency is more important than ever to
American families,” Gina McCarthy, EPA Assistant Administrator for
Air and Radiation said. “As our economy gets back on its feet,
ENERGY STAR® is an easy way for consumers to save money and help
fight climate change.”
“Consumers have long trusted the ENERGY STAR®
brand for products that will save them energy and save them money,”
said Cathy Zoi, DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and
Renewable Energy. “The steps we’re taking now will further
strengthen and improve the program, building on the results that
consumers have come to expect.”
Consumers can feel confident in ENERGY STAR
because in 2009 alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR®
saved enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to
those from 30 million cars — all while saving nearly $17 billion on
their utility bills.
Taking Action: The Obama Administration
Strengthens Testing and Enforcement
EPA and DOE are taking aggressive action to
promote confidence in the ENERGY STAR® brand through both testing
Testing. The EPA and DOE have launched a two-step
process to expand testing of ENERGY STAR® qualified products:
•DOE began tests this week on six of the most
common product types: freezers, refrigerator-freezers, clothes
washers, dishwashers, water heaters and room air conditioners. These
product types account for at least 25% of a typical homeowner’s
energy bill. DOE will test approximately 200 basic models at
third-party, independent test laboratories over the next few months.
•The EPA and DOE are also developing an expanded system that will
require all products seeking the ENERGY STAR® label to be tested in
approved labs and require manufacturers to participate in an ongoing
verification testing program that will ensure continued compliance.
Enforcement. EPA and DOE have taken a series of actions in recent
months to ensure compliance with both ENERGY STAR® and DOE’s
appliance efficiency standards, including taking action against 35
manufacturers in the past four months. The ENERGY STAR® program
helps consumers identify the products that are highly energy
efficient and will save them money on utility costs, while DOE’s
minimum appliance efficiency standards set baseline energy
efficiency levels for appliances.
•2/5/09 -- President Obama ordered the Department
of Energy to clear the logjam and issue long-delayed appliance
efficiency standards. The Department subsequently met every deadline
and issued six standards in 2009 that are expected to save consumers
between $250 billion and $300 billion over the next 30 years.
•7/23/09 -- DOE issued a subpoena to AeroSys Inc. to obtain the
necessary test data to determine whether certain air conditioners
and heat pumps comply with the applicable energy conservation
•9/24/09 -- DOE required AeroSys Inc., a manufacturer of air
conditioners and heat pumps, to provide product samples for the
Department to conduct its own testing to verify whether certain
models meet the federal minimum energy efficiency standards.
•10/13/09 -- DOE announced the formation of an enforcement team
within the Office of the General Counsel, which is leading the
Department’s efforts to monitor compliance with ENERGY STAR®
criteria and enforce minimum appliance standards. This includes a
program to randomly review manufacturers’ compliance with DOE
certification requirements and aggressively pursue any violations.
•12/7/09 -- DOE and EPA announced they were taking steps to remove
the ENERGY STAR® label from 20 LG refrigerator-freezer models that
multiple independent labs confirmed were consuming more energy than
allowed under the ENERGY STAR® criteria.
•12/9/09 -- DOE announced that it would be aggressively enforcing
reporting requirements that manufacturers are required to submit to
the Department certifying the energy use of residential appliance
models and compliance with energy efficiency standards. DOE offered
manufacturers a 30 day window to submit complete and accurate
reports to the Department. During that period, DOE received energy
use reports from 160 different manufacturers, covering over 600,000
•1/7/10 -- DOE announced it had signed a Consent Decree with Haier
on four of its freezer models – including two ENERGY STAR® models -
that were consuming more energy than reported. As part of the
agreement with the Department, Haier is required to notify all
affected consumers and repair any defective units, and has paid
$150,000 to the U.S. Treasury.
•1/25/10 -- DOE disqualified 34 CFL models from 25 manufacturers
that did not meet all of the ENERGY STAR criteria for compact
•1/28/10 -- DOE initiated enforcement actions against four
showerhead manufacturers who failed to certify 116 product models as
meeting the federal water conservation standards.
•2/4/10 -- DOE initiated a civil penalty enforcement action against
a manufacturer of air conditioners and heat pumps for failing to
certify some of its products and for certifying other products when
they had not been tested in accordance with DOE’s test procedure.
•3/7/10 -- DOE initiated enforcement actions against two additional
showerhead manufacturers who were suspected of selling products that
do not meet the federal water conservation standards.
•3/11/2010 -- EPA notified US Inc/US Refrigeration that their
partnership with ENERGY STAR® was terminated based on a history of
logo misuse, unresponsiveness, and pattern of failure to comply with
ENERGY STAR® program guidelines.
Why Consumers Can Remain Confident in the ENERGY STAR® Brand
The ENERGY STAR® program already has a
comprehensive system in place to ensure consumer confidence that
products carrying the ENERGY STAR® label actually save energy and
save them money. Specifically:
•To receive an ENERGY STAR® label, manufacturers
must submit data to the federal government showing that their
product meets a set of clear, measurable energy efficiency program
requirements outlined on EnergyStar.gov.
•The Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency
conduct “off the shelf” and third party testing of a wide range of
products bearing the ENERGY STAR® label. For example:
◦All ENERGY STAR® qualified windows, doors, and skylights must be
independently tested by the National Fenestration Rating Council, an
independent nonprofit organization with rigorous testing procedures
monitored and supported by the Department of Energy.
◦The Environmental Protection Agency regularly conducts “off the
shelf” testing to verify ENERGY STAR® compliance. For example, in
2009 the EPA tested 20 TV models and 16 imaging products and found
100% compliance with the ENERGY STAR® label.
◦Residential Light Fixtures, Compact Fluorescent Lights and Solid
State Lighting systems (also known as LEDs) are all tested by
accredited, third-party laboratories.
• Market driven competition also provides a valuable insurance
policy on the ENERGY STAR® brand. Manufacturers know that the ENERGY
STAR® label is very attractive to consumers, and often test a
competing product to ensure it complies with the requirements.
Suspected violations can be reported to the EPA or DOE for followup.
•When a violation is found, the right to use the ENERGY STAR® label
is revoked, corrective measures are required and the ENERGY STAR®
partnership may be terminated. For example, in 2008 under DOE
pressure, LG Electronics agreed to pay back consumers for promised
energy savings and provide free, in-home upgrades to improve several
models of refrigerators. These cases also produce substantial
unfavorable publicity for manufacturers which can be very costly and
create a major disincentive for companies to violate the program
Independent Review Finds 98% Compliance
Violations of the ENERGY STAR® label tend to get
big media attention, which is good – because it provides a strong
disincentive for companies to skirt the system and risk a wave of
negative coverage about their product. At the same time, consumers
should be aware that in the past few years the number of violations
has been quite small, especially given that more than 40,000
individual products carry the ENERGY STAR® label.
Last year, the EPA’s independent Inspector General
conducted a “spot check” of the program, testing 60 energy star
products. 59 of the 60 products met or exceeded the ENERGY STAR®
requirements. One product, a specific model of printer, failed on
one of three tests (not entering “sleep mode” fast enough).
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