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Demystifying the ENERGY STAR Rating

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released a new ‘Today in Energy’ article today looking at the adoption of ENERGY STAR equipment and how adoption varies between appliances.

Today in Energy are “topical, timely, short articles with energy news and information you can understand and use,” and the most recent article spent some time demystifying what the ENERGY STAR logo actually represents and the adoption between various products.


The basics of ENERGY STAR are simple: it is a label that identifies products using the top-25% most-efficient options within their specific product class at the date the specification goes into effect. So a television that is stickered with the ENERGY STAR is designed with more energy-efficient technology than most other TVs on the market.

Market penetration of ENERGY STAR–approved appliances will often increase over time, inevitably leading to a new and revised version of the specifications for that particular product, allowing for increases in technology and forcing companies to keep innovating for the sake of the customer.

For example, dehumidifiers and dishwashers had a market penetration of over 95% in 2011, which enabled the implementation of new specifications which were implemented in 2012. Similarly, televisions, room air-conditioners, clothes washers, and audio/video product will all see their specifications updated in June of 2013.

On the other hand, there are appliances that are relatively new to the ENERGY STAR program and have little market penetration. Water heaters are one such appliance, due in part to the fact that there are specifications for only a segment of the market: electric storage tank and electric tankless water heaters cannot earn the ENERGY STAR label because they offer limited energy savings potential, whereas electric-powered heat pump water heaters can earn the label.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
Image Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on ENERGY STAR

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