Energy Efficiency: Look for the Label

Aug 18, 2022

When being conscious of healthy eating, it’s important to read labels on the foods you buy. Similarly, when trying to ensure a healthy electricity bill, it’s important to read and understand the labels on the appliances you invest in.

Energy efficiency labels and standards are used to indicate the efficiency of home appliances. While there are several different labels and standards in different countries around the world, North American standards and labels are the most applicable to Bermuda as most of our appliances are shipped from North America and we use the same electrical current (110 volts vs 220v in Europe and elsewhere).

“Standards and labels are particularly effective policy tools for increasing the efficiency of energy-using appliances, equipment, and lighting by accelerating the penetration of energy-efficient technology into the marketplace.” – North American Energy Efficiency Standards and Labels by the North American Energy Working Group, energy.gov

The following Is a glossary of terms that all consumers should be familiar with:

Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS): Sometimes referred to as minimum efficiency standards or simply standards. MEPS are mandatory regulations stipulating the minimum efficiency levels or maximum energy-use levels acceptable for products sold in a particular country or region.

Energy-Efficiency Labels: Energy-Efficiency Labels are informative labels affixed to manufactured products indicating a product’s energy performance (usually in the form of energy use, efficiency, and/or energy cost) in order to provide consumers with the data necessary for making more informed purchases.

Comparison Labels: Comparison Labels indicate the energy efficiency of a particular model relative to similar models on the market, and are usually, though not always, mandatory.

Endorsement Labels: Sometimes referred to as quality marks. Endorsement Labels are affixed only on models meeting or exceeding a certain efficiency level. These quality marks indicate models of superior energy efficiency and are voluntary. They are included at the discretion of a manufacturer.

Self-Certification: This Is a certification in which manufacturers formally test their own products and, in practice, also test each other’s products and force compliance.

Verification Mark: A Verification Mark Is an Indication that the energy performance of a product has been verified by a certification organisation.

“The biggest gains, in terms of decreasing the country’s energy bill, the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere, and our dependency on foreign oil, will come from energy efficiency and conservation in the next 20 years. Make no doubt about it. That’s where everybody who has really thought about the problem thinks the biggest gains can be and should be.” – Steven Chu FREng ForMemRS HonFInstP

The most common standard for energy efficiency appliances sold in Bermuda is the Energy Star labelling programme run by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). The Energy Star label provides consumers with a reliable resource when fact-checking the efficiency of various appliances, electronics, and other residential devices. The labelling programme is an independent testing programme, operating on the complete elimination of input from the manufacturer, that must be earned.

The Energy Star Label indicates the energy efficiency for more than 75 different certified product categories, homes, commercial buildings, and industrial plants. Some of the most well-known categories are as follows:

Home Electronic Devices:
“Televisions are one of the most significant items in this category. For a TV to qualify as an ENERGY STAR product, it must consume 30% less energy than the typical model of its size and capability. This group also covers items with an external power adapter like cordless phones and battery chargers. For these items to qualify for the label, they must consume 90% less power than the average products on the market.”1

Lighting:
“For fluorescent light bulbs to qualify, they must use 75% less energy than a similar incandescent bulb. LED lights must use only 25% of the power consumed by an incandescent bulb that delivers similar lighting.”1

Heating And Cooling Systems:
“The ENERGY STAR programme covers heat pumps, furnaces, boilers, and air conditioners. Overall, these items should be considered to deliver around a 10% energy savings over a typical unit of similar size and capability.”1

Home Appliances:
“Appliances are some of the largest energy consumers behind the HVAC system in most homes. For these items to display the ENERGY STAR logo, they must each meet a different standard. For example, dishwashers must be 41% more energy efficient than the average unit, while refrigerators must offer only a 20% decrease in energy consumption.”1

For a full list of Energy Star products, visit:
ENERGY STAR Energy Efficient Products | Products | ENERGY STAR.

Energy Star products are certified if the product qualifies. While the programme does not have varying levels of efficiency, it does keep a list of the most efficient products In each category, with the achievement being awarded annually based on the year’s data.

For a full list of Energy Star’s most efficient products, visit:
ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2022 | ENERGY STAR.

The EPA uses the following guiding principles to determine which products will receive the Energy Star label2:

  • Products must be in a category that could contribute significant energy savings.
  • Products must have the features and performance preferred by consumers, as well as provide energy efficiency.
  • Certified products that cost more than less efficient alternatives must provide savings in energy costs within a reasonable period of time.
  • Energy-efficiency technology can be achieved by other manufacturers and not through proprietary solutions.
  • Energy savings can be confirmed in testing.

If looking to purchase new household appliances, look for ones that have earned the Energy Star certification. You can identify them by the blue Energy Star label.

The Energy Star logo is often incorporated into the Energy Guide label for certified products, which is managed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The Energy Guide Label is a required label which estimates the annual energy consumption for an appliance and provides some information about whether that use is above or below the average for that type of product. The dollar amount at the bottom of the Energy Guide is the estimated yearly operating cost based on the national average cost of electricity in the US.

“In 2020 alone, ENERGY STAR and its partners helped Americans save more than 520 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and avoid $42 billion in energy costs. These savings resulted in associated emission reductions of more than 400 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, roughly equivalent to more than five percent of U.S. total greenhouse gas emissions. These savings also led to reductions of 210,000 short tons of sulfur dioxide, 210,000 short tons of nitrogen oxides, and 20,000 short tons of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The avoided air pollution due to ENERGY STAR was responsible for an estimated $7 – 17 billion in public health benefits in 2019 alone. Since 1992, ENERGY STAR has helped reduce 4 billion metric tons in greenhouse gas reductions. Over the lifetime of the program, for every dollar of EPA investment, 3 metric tons of GHGs have been reduced.” – https://www.energystar.gov/about

While the Energy Star programme is the most common on appliances, there are other programmes or rating schemes that are particular to different appliance types. Advance research will help you Identify any additional labels, ratings, or standards you should be looking for, but it is always beneficial to ask questions of the retailer who will help guide you through the appliance purchasing process.

Taking the time to review the standards and labels of household appliances can not only save you on electricity consumption and costs but can also help reduce carbon emissions and help the environment.

It is worth noting that the impact of an Energy Star product will vary depending on your overall usage.

1 Understanding The Benefits Of The ENERGY STAR Label (legacyelectrictx.com)
2 How a Product Earns the ENERGY STAR Label | ENERGY STAR

News Archives

Blog Archive