Energy Star

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Energy Star
Founded March 15, 1992; 25 years ago (1992-03-15)[2]
Founder John S. Hoffman
Area served
United States, Australia, Canada, European Union, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan

Energy Star (trademarked ENERGY STAR) is an international standard for energy efficient consumer products originated in the United States. It was created in 1992 by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.[3][4] Since then, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, and the European Union have adopted the program. Devices carrying the Energy Star service mark, such as computer products and peripherals, kitchen appliances, buildings and other products, generally use 20–30% less energy than required by federal standards.[5][6] In the United States, the Energy Star label is also shown on EnergyGuide appliance label of qualifying products.


The Energy Star program was developed by John S. Hoffman, inventor of the Green Programs at EPA, working closely with the IT industry, and implemented by Cathy Zoi and Brian Johnson.[7] The program was intended to be part of a series of voluntary programs, such as Green Lights and the Methane Programs, that would demonstrate the potential for profit in reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gases by power plants.[7]

Initiated as a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy efficient products, Energy Star began with labels for computer and printer products. In 1995 the program was significantly expanded, introducing labels for residential heating and cooling systems and new homes.[8] At this time, newly formed energy efficiency programs, administered by ratepayer funded entities such as utilities, agreed through the Consortium for Energy Efficiency to begin promoting their programs using the ENERGY STAR brand. In 2000, the Consortium for Energy Efficiency was directed by members to begin an annual survey of ENERGY STAR impact.[9]

As of 2006, more than 40,000 Energy Star products were available in a wide range of items including major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, and more. In addition, the label can also be found on new homes and commercial and industrial buildings. In 2006, about 12 percent of new housing in the United States was labeled Energy Star.[10]

The EPA estimates that it saved about $14 billion in energy costs in 2006 alone. The Energy Star program has helped spread the use of LED traffic lights, efficient fluorescent lighting, power management systems for office equipment, and low standby energy use.[11]

In 2008, the EPA announced the Green Power Partnership program, which was designed to help achieve its goal of encouraging the use of renewable power sources. The renewable energy credits (REC) allow companies without direct access to renewable power the ability to achieve their goals. However, to avoid companies buying RECs years in advance of any of the hypothetical power ever being produced, RECs are only accepted into the program when the actual equivalent renewable power will be produced.[12]


Energy Star specifications differ with each item, and are set by either the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Energy. The following highlights product and specification information available on the Energy Star website.


Energy Star 4.0 specifications for computers became effective on July 20, 2007. The requirements are more stringent than the previous specification and existing equipment designs can no longer use the service mark unless re-qualified. They require the use of 80 Plus Bronze level or higher power supplies. Energy Star 5.0 became effective on July 1, 2009.[13] Energy Star 6.1 became effective on September 10, 2014. [14]


The EPA released Version 1.0 of the Computer Server specifications on May 15, 2009. It covered standalone servers with one to four processor sockets. A second tier to the specification adding active state power and performance reporting for all qualified servers, as well as blade and multi-node server idle state requirements became effective December 16, 2013.[15]


As of early 2008, average refrigerators need 20% savings over the minimum standard. Dishwashers need at least 41% savings. Most appliances as well as heating and cooling systems have a yellow EnergyGuide label showing the annual cost of operation compared to other models. This label is created through the Federal Trade Commission and often shows if an appliance is Energy Star.[16] While an Energy Star label indicates that the appliance is more energy efficient than the minimum guidelines, purchasing an Energy Star labeled product does not always mean one is getting the most energy efficient option available. For example, dehumidifiers that are rated under 25 US pints (12 L) per day of water extraction receive an Energy Star rating if they have an energy factor of 1.2 (higher is better), while those rated 25 US pints (12 L) to 35 US pints (17 L) per day receive an Energy Star rating for an energy factor of 1.4 or higher. Thus a higher-capacity but non-Energy Star rated dehumidifier may be a more energy efficient alternative than an Energy Star rated but lower-capacity model.[17] The Energy Star program's savings calculator has also been criticized for unrealistic assumptions in its model that tend to magnify savings benefits to the average consumer.[18]

Another factor yet to be considered by the EPA and DOE is the overall effect of energy-saving requirements on the durability and expected service life of a mass-market appliance built to a consumer-level cost standard. For example, a refrigerator may be made more efficient by the use of more insulative spacing and a smaller-capacity compressor using electronics to control operation and temperature. However, this may come at the cost of reduced interior storage (or increased exterior mass) or a reduced service life due to compressor or electronic failures. In particular, electronic controls used on new-generation appliances are subject to damage from shock, vibration, moisture, or power spikes on the electrical circuit to which they are attached. Critics have pointed out that even if a new appliance is energy efficient, any consumer appliance that does not provide customer satisfaction, or must be replaced twice as often as its predecessor contributes to landfill pollution and waste of natural resources used to construct its replacement.[19]

Heating and cooling systems[edit]

Energy Star qualified heat pumps, boilers, air conditioning systems, and furnaces are available. In addition, cooling and heating bills can be significantly lowered with air sealing and duct sealing. Air sealing reduces the outdoor air that penetrates a building, and duct sealing prevents attic or basement air from entering ducts and lessening the heating/cooling system’s efficiency. Energy Star qualified room air conditioners are at least 10% more energy efficient than the minimum U.S. federal government standards.[20]

Home electronics[edit]

Energy Star qualified televisions[21] use 30% less energy than average. In November 2008, television specifications were improved to limit on-mode power use, in addition to standby power which is limited by the current specifications. A wider range of Energy Star qualified televisions will be available. Other qualified home electronics include cordless phones, battery chargers, VCRs and external power adapters, most of which use 90% less energy.

Imaging equipment[edit]

The Energy Star Program Requirements for Imaging Products are focused on product families such as electrophotographic (EP) printers, inkjet printers (e.g., thermal), copiers, facsimile machines and other imaging equipment including MFD's (multifunctional devices). Typical Electrical Consumption (TEC) of a product family are measured and reported against an allowance set by the maximum throughput of the device. Operation modes (OM) are measured and reported for devices such as inkjet products against an allowance set by the functions present in the EUT (equipment under test). Devices that included "adders" such as Ethernet, on-board memory, wireless, etc. are mathematically "added" to increase the OM allowance. Recently on February 1, 2011, the EPA/DOE added the requirement that all products registered under the Energy Star service mark, must be tested by an AB (Accredited Body) or CB (Certification Body) Laboratory.


The Energy Star is awarded to only certain bulbs that meet strict efficiency, quality, and lifetime criteria.

Energy Star qualified fluorescent lighting uses 75% less energy and lasts up to ten times longer than normal incandescent lights.

Energy Star Qualified light-emitting diode (LED) Lighting:

  • Reduces energy costs — uses at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting, saving on operating expenses.
  • Reduces maintenance costs — lasts 35 to 50 times longer than incandescent lighting and about 2 to 5 times longer than fluorescent lighting. No bulb-replacements, no ladders, no ongoing disposal program.
  • Reduces cooling costs — LEDs produce very little heat.

To qualify for Energy Star certification, LED lighting products must pass a variety of tests to prove that the products will display the following characteristics:

  • Brightness is equal to or greater than existing lighting technologies (incandescent or fluorescent) and light is well distributed over the area lighted by the fixture.
  • Light output remains constant over time, only decreasing towards the end of the rated lifetime (at least 35,000 hours or 12 years based on use of 8 hours per day).
  • Excellent color quality. The shade of white light appears clear and consistent over time.
  • Efficiency is as good as or better than fluorescent lighting.
  • Light comes on instantly when turned on.
  • No flicker when dimmed.
  • No off-state power draw. The fixture does not use power when it is turned off, with the exception of external controls, whose power should not exceed 0.5 watts in the off state.

New homes[edit]

New homes that meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency can qualify for Energy Star certification. An Energy Star qualified home uses at least 15% less energy than standard homes built to the 2003 International Residential Code (IRC). They usually include properly installed insulation, high performance windows, tight construction and ducts, energy efficient cooling and heating systems, and Energy Star qualified appliances, lighting, and water heaters.[22]

Energy performance ratings[edit]

The U.S. EPA's Energy Star program has developed energy performance rating systems for several commercial and institutional building types and manufacturing facilities. These ratings, on a scale of 1 to 100, provide a means for benchmarking the energy efficiency of specific buildings and industrial plants against the energy performance of similar facilities. The ratings are used by building and energy managers to evaluate the energy performance of existing buildings and industrial plants. The rating systems are also used by EPA to determine if a building or plant can qualify to earn Energy Star recognition.[23][24]

For many types of commercial buildings, one can enter energy information into EPA's free online tool, Portfolio Manager,[25] and it will calculate a score for one's building on a scale of 1-100. Buildings that score a 75 or greater may qualify for the Energy Star. Portfolio Manager is an interactive energy management tool that allows one to track and assess energy and water consumption across one's entire portfolio of buildings in a secure online environment. Whether one owns, manages, or holds properties for investment, Portfolio Manager can help one set investment priorities, identify under-performing buildings, verify efficiency improvements, and receive EPA recognition for superior energy performance.[26] Portfolio Manager uses an automated benchmarking tool that can award Energy Star certification to buildings that have uploaded 12 months of consecutive energy usage data and received scores of 75 or above.


The number of space types that can receive the energy performance rating in Portfolio Manager is expanding and now includes housing,[10] bank/financial institutions, courthouses, hospitals (acute care and children's), hotels and motels, houses of worship, K-12 schools, medical offices, offices, residence halls/dormitories, retail stores, supermarkets, warehouses (refrigerated and non-refrigerated), data centers, senior care facilities, and wastewater facilities.[27][28]

See the technical descriptions for models used in the rating system at.[29] These documents provide detailed information on the methodologies used to create the energy performance ratings including details on rating objectives, regression techniques, and the steps applied to compute a rating. A 1-100 rating can be generated for ratable space types by entering building attributes, such as square footage and weekly operating hours, and monthly energy consumption data into Portfolio Manager, a free online tool provided by Energy Star. This process is known as benchmarking and reveals how a building's energy consumption compares to that of other similar buildings of the same space type, based on a national average. Earning a rating of 75 or above is the first step towards achieving the Energy Star for a building.

Energy Star energy performance ratings have been incorporated into some green buildings standards, such as LEED for Existing Buildings.
Energy Conservation Building Code - India

Industrial facilities[edit]

Energy performance ratings have been released for the following industrial facilities:[30]

Automobile assembly plants, cement plants, wet corn mills, container glass manufacturing, flat glass manufacturing, frozen fried potato processing plants, juice processing, petroleum refineries, and pharmaceutical manufacturing plants.[28]

Other facilities[edit]

Small business award[edit]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) annually recognizes small businesses that demonstrate abilities to reduce waste, conserve energy, and recycle. The businesses use resources and ideas outlined in the Energy Star program.[31] The award was established in 1999.


In March 2010, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) performed covert testing of the ENERGY STAR product certification process and found that ENERGY STAR was for the most part a self-certification program that was vulnerable to fraud and abuse.[32] While the GAO demonstrated, by submitting fake products from made-up companies, that cheating was possible, they found no evidence of consumer fraud relating to the quality or performance of ENERGY STAR qualified products.[33]

In response, the Environmental Protection Agency instituted third-party certification of all ENERGY STAR products starting in 2011.[34] Under this regime, products are tested in an EPA-recognized laboratory and reviewed by an EPA-recognized certification body before they can carry the label. In order to be recognized, labs and certification bodies must meet specified criteria and be subject to oversight by a recognized accreditation body. In addition, a percentage of ENERGY STAR certified product models in each category are subject to off-the-shelf verification testing each year.

Senator Susan M. Collins (ME), who at the time was Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and had requested the GAO audit, applauded the changes that were made to further protect the credibility and integrity of the ENERGY STAR Program.[35]

As of 2017, there are 24 independent certification bodies and 255 independent laboratories recognized for purposes of ENERGY STAR product certification and testing.[36] Most cover multiple product types. In 2016, 1,881 product models were subject to verification testing with an overall compliance rate of 95%.[37]

In March 2017 the Trump Administration proposed a budget that would eliminate the program.[38] This prompted an outpouring of expressions of support for the ENERGY STAR program from environmental groups,[39] energy efficiency advocates,[40] [41] businesses[42] and others, including coverage of the "potentially lethal implications of eliminating the program" on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.[43]

Adoption in building codes[edit]

The current and projected status of energy codes and standards adoption is show in the maps at the link.[44]

The following cities have mandatory reporting requirements.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Guidelines for Energy Service and Product Providers". Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "EPA Celebrates 20th Anniversary of ENERGY STAR - ENERGY STAR". 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2016-05-10. 
  3. ^ "The Clinton Presidency: Protecting Our Environment and Public Health". Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "History of Energy Star". Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  5. ^ Alena Tugend (10 May 2008). "If Your Appliances Are Avocado, They're Probably not Green". New York Times. Retrieved 29 June 2008. 
  6. ^ Asensio, Omar Isaac; Delmas, Magali A. (2017-03-27). "The effectiveness of US energy efficiency building labels". Nature Energy. 2. ISSN 2058-7546. doi:10.1038/nenergy.2017.33. 
  7. ^ a b "Energy Star". Climate Institute. Archived from the original on 2011-02-25. Retrieved 2011-04-10. 
  8. ^, “Milestones: Energy Star.” 2007. Retrieved on 1 March 2008.
  9. ^ "National Awareness of ENERGY STAR". Consortium for Energy Efficiency and US EPA. US EPA. Retrieved 2016-07-07. 
  10. ^ a b U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "2006 Annual Report: Energy Star and Other Climate Protection Partnerships.". Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  11. ^, "History: Energy Star.". Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  12. ^ Timmer, John (2008-12-23). "EPA tightens rules on its Green Power Partners". Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  13. ^ Computers with any Energy Star version installed will display its logo, or a rosette and the company's slogan when running the BIOS after turning the machine on. Ng, Jansen (1 July 2009). "New Energy Star 5.0 Specs for Computers Become Effective Today". DailyTech. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  14. ^ "Version 6.1 Energy Efficiency Requirements for Computers". Retrieved November 30, 2016. 
  15. ^, "Energy Star - Enterprise Servers". Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  16. ^, "Learn More about EnergyGuide: Energy Star.". Retrieved 1 March 2008.
  17. ^ Green Energy Efficient Homes, Energy Efficient Dehumidifiers
  18. ^ Belzer, Richard Energy Star Appliances: EPA's Savings Calculator Exaggerates Savings, Regulatory Economics, 5 March 2008
  19. ^ Muñoz, Sara Schaeffer, Do 'Green' Appliances Live Up To Their Billing, The Wall Street Journal, Business, 2 August 2007
  20. ^ ", "Room Air Conditioners Key Product Criteria" Retrieved 2008-07-17". Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  21. ^ California Sustainability Alliance Energy Star Televisions, Received July 24th, 2010
  22. ^ "Energy Star Qualified Homes : Energy Star". 2009-01-27. Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  23. ^ Energy Star - Evaluate Performance Energy
  24. ^ Energy Star Benchmark Energy
  25. ^ "Portfolio Manager". Energy Star. Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  26. ^ "Portfolio Manager Overview : ENERGY STAR". 2011-12-23. Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  27. ^ "Criteria for Rating Building Energy Performance". Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  28. ^ a b "The ENERGY STAR for Buildings & Manufacturing Plants : ENERGY STAR". Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  29. ^ "Portfolio Manager Overview: Technical Descriptions for Models Used in the Rating System : ENERGY STAR". Retrieved 2012-12-29. 
  30. ^ "Industries in Focus : Energy Star". 2009-03-16. Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
  31. ^ "Small Businesses and Congregations Improve Energy Efficiency and Fight Climate Change / EPA names nine Energy Star small business and congregation award winners". 2010-09-21. 
  32. ^ U.S. Government Accountability Office (March 2010). "ENERGY STAR PROGRAM Covert Testing Shows the Energy Star Program Certification Process is Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse". GAO-10-470. 
  33. ^ U.S. Government Accountability Office (March 2010). "ENERGY STAR PROGRAM Covert Testing Shows the Energy Star Program Certification Process is Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse". GAO-10-470. 
  34. ^ Retrieved October 12, 2017.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  35. ^ United States Senate Committee on Homeland Secruity and Governemental Affairs (April 14, 2010). "Senator Collins Lauds Changes to Energy Star Program; Notes Quick Response by EPA, DOE to Recent Investigation". (Press Release). 
  36. ^ Retrieved October 12, 2017.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  37. ^ (PDF) Retrieved October 16, 2017.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  38. ^ "Trump Budget Plan Would Slice EPA Spending by Nearly a Third". 2017-03-16. Retrieved 2017-04-24. 
  39. ^ Wolf, Alan (March 28, 2017). [ "Trump May Pull the Plug on Energy Star Program"] Check |url= value (help). 
  40. ^ Callahan, Katari (April 5, 2017). [ "The cheap, effective program that Trump wants to kill"] Check |url= value (help). 
  41. ^ Heikkinen, Niina (April 5, 2017). "Private sector on quest to save Energy Star". E&E News. 
  42. ^ Daly, Matthew (April 25, 2017). "Companies decry Trump plan to eliminate Energy Star Program". The Associated Press. 
  43. ^ Bradley, Laura (March 23, 2017). [ "Samantha Bee Cackles Over Trump's Failing Budget Proposal"] Check |url= value (help). 
  44. ^ |title= Building Energy Codes Program
  45. ^
  46. ^ |title= Austin, TX Benchmarking Ordinance
  47. ^ Austin, TX Benchmarking Ordinance
  48. ^ Boston Mandates Energy Benchmarking
  49. ^ Minneapolis, MN Benchmarking FAQs
  50. ^ New York, NY Benchmarking Summary Website
  51. ^ New York, NY Benchmarking Plan
  52. ^ Philadelphia, PA Benchmarking
  53. ^ San Francisco, CA Benchmarking
  54. ^ a b Seattle, WA Benchmarking
  55. ^ Washington, D.C. Benchmarking

External links[edit]