Friday, July 15, 2011

Energy Star’s Most Efficient designation

I called in to EPA and DOE's announcement yesterday for a new designation for the Energy Star label – Most Efficient. It is aimed to designate the top tier products in 7 product categories in terms of energy conservation, including: clothes washers, heating and cooling equipment, televisions, Geo-thermal, heat pumps, and refrigerator-freezers. The agencies hope this will attract early adopters and promote the best efficiency products.

“[The] Most Efficient designation will help shoppers reduce their energy bills, provide incentives for manufacturers to innovate, and protect Americans’ public health and environment.” – US EPA

In order for a product to achieve the Most Efficient designation, it must be Energy Star qualified and certified as such.

"This new designation will help Americans save money and cut pollution by quickly pointing them to the best Energy Star products have to offer. Highlighting Energy Star's Most Efficient products is a great way to encourage the strides in innovation that bring even more energy and money saving choices to our stores,"

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

"Over the last two decades, the Energy Star program has consistently offered consumers energy choices that have helped families save billions of dollars on their energy bills . . . The new Most Efficient designation is the next step towards encouraging new, more energy-efficient products to enter the market, so that consumers will have even more choices when it comes to high performance, high efficiency products that will save them energy and money.”

Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

The Most Efficient designation is more about innovation than labeling. It’s a step in the direction to bring energy competitiveness to new efficient products and bring the consumers to these products. Given Energy Star’s success, I am excited to see the designation’s achievements in the coming years. I wondered if they will add more tiers but I thought that would be counter productive in terms of implementation. The agencies did promise the added Most Efficient tier would not require much administrative burdens.

There will not be a new snazzy label as we saw with Energy Star, or will there be? The facilitators on the conference call stated the answer in the negative, but I failed to see how they can alert the consumers effectively without some kind of label. The label you see next to this post is a new energy star label with the designation. It's a new visual cue. To be clear, the Most Efficient designation is an annual designation for the top products in the categories mentioned. The estimated 5% is not a set standard, rather, the criteria are set for specific achievement standards within the Energy Star program. The specification does not account for Green House Gas emissions GHG, and it does not consider life cycles (LEED focuses on life cycle principles). It is simply an enhancement for the existing Energy Star certification.

There Energy Star partners’ products among the first to be recognized as Most Efficient include: Electrolux Major Appliances, Sears’ Kenmore, LG, Samsung, Best Buy’s Insignia Brand, Panasonic, Nordyne, and Rheem.

Later this year, EPA will initiate a process to consider additional product categories for potential inclusion in 2012.

“Today, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 60 different kinds of products as well as new homes and commercial and industrial buildings that meet strict energy efficiency specifications set by the EPA. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $18 billion on their energy bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to annual emissions of 33 million vehicles.”

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