Since 1992, the US ENERGY STAR program has been reducing greenhouse gases, saving consumers money and tackling the energy crisis. Begun by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is a voluntary labelling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products. It has been a success, with consumers estimated to have saved over $430 billion on utility bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 2.4 billion metric tons. What is the reason for this success?
Overconsumption is the principal cause of the world’s energy crisis, with by-products including pollution and increases greenhouse gasses. ENERGY STAR was introduced as part of a concerted effort to reduce energy consumption levels for enacted appliances, both residential and commercial. Its success means it now incorporates all relevant stakeholders, including utility companies, advocacy groups, appliance manufacturers and the end consumer. Active participation of all stakeholders is a prerequisite for reducing energy consumption.
The success of the ENERGY STAR program has allowed its scope to expand to cover not only enacted appliances, but also office/IT equipment, consumer electronics (like televisions), and luminaries. It has even become a global initiative, being adapted to incorporate some, or all, electronic devices in more than 10 authorities and countries. These include the EU, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Taiwan. Wherever the product is in the world, if it carries the ENERGY STAR label, it will meet the EPA’s standards for that product.
Part of the success of the program is that it has encouraged manufacturers to create more energy efficient products. Consumers can go into any home improvement or appliance store and see which home appliances are more efficient via the FTC yellow tag, which outlines their annual energy usage. Greener, more energy efficient products are clearly visible to consumers. The success of energy efficient products in the market has become one of the main considerations when manufacturers develop new products.
Manufacturers need to be careful, however, that energy efficiency does not come at expense of performance. There have been instances of end consumers complaining about dishwashers that don’t clean dishes and washing machines and dryers that require several cycles to complete their task. Manufacturers may, therefore, want to shift their focus to creating resources based on new IoT, regeneration, battery backup, and other types of products. When these are combined with energy efficient products, they can reduce energy usage without sacrificing performance.
Because all stakeholders have been galvanized by ENERGY STAR, they are all committed to reducing energy usage and its by-products. If one stakeholder stalls in their plans, another can still move the program forward.
One area of particular importance is energy creation. Since the start of the program, energy producing companies have been able to report a reduction of 2.4 billion metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions. A by-product of energy creation is the greenhouse gas, SF6. It cannot be completely removed from the energy creation cycle but, since 1999, the EPA and their utility company partners have been working together in a number of ways to reduce it. The partnership has been highly successful, with a 75% reduction of SF6 between 1999 to 2014. This has been achieved by the collaboration of over 86 nation-wide partners, covering almost the whole of the US, along with utility companies and the EPA. Methods include the introduction of household smart meters and employment of other smart technologies to measure energy usage.
The success of ENERGY STAR cannot be considered without looking at the consumer. This stakeholder is vitally important to the program – they are the reason the program was created. Figures from 2015 show ENERGY STAR certified products have helped Americans save 503 kWH of energy and $34 billion dollars on their energy bills. The ultimate success of the program depends upon the choices made by consumers. Transparency is key. ENERGY STAR, manufacturers, advocacy groups and the utility companies must all work together to show consumers the cost savings they will enjoy by choosing energy efficient products and the impact their choices are having on the environment. This information can be accessed through the ENERGY STAR website, and those of manufacturers and retailers.
SGS Electrical and Electronic Services
ENERGY STAR is providing the right framework to help industry and consumers achieve their goals, but there is a lot more to do. Manufacturers need to make sure their products are achieving their goals. SGS, with its status as a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL), in the US, and its accreditation by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), can help businesses achieve compliance with US and Canadian electrical and electronics regulations relating to energy efficiency, product safety, electromagnetic compatibility, hazardous substances, performance and reliability.
SGS is an EPA-recognized testing laboratory that can test appliances, consumer electronics, luminaries, and IT equipment to the applicable ENERGY STAR standards. They can also assess energy efficiency of any appliance seeking ENERGY STAR certification, using Department of Energy specifications and test parameters. SGS’s laboratories in the US, Taiwan, and China are also approved as EPA-recognized certification bodies, and SGS is empowered to certify a product’s ENERGY STAR eligibility and submit the relevant documentation to the EPA on behalf of the manufacturer.
Working with SGS will help businesses produce better, more energy efficient appliances. For more information on SGS Electrical and Electronics.
For more information, please contact:
CRS Electrical & Electronics
SGS North America Inc
Tel: +1 201-508-3000
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