Energy Star ratings: CU applauds new guidelines
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Washington, DC—The Department of Energy (DOE) announced yesterday a new policy to conduct random checks of Energy Star labeled products and test products for compliance with their advertised energy savings. Consumers Union, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, has been a long-time advocate for third-party compliance testing and certification of Energy Star ratings.
“We applaud the Department of Energy for performing random product tests and starting to investigate the abuse of the Energy Star label,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy analyst for Consumers Union. “Consumers rely on Energy Star labels to ensure they are buying the most energy-efficient appliances on the market, but we’ve discovered that some products say they comply with Energy Star standards when they actually don’t.”
During routine product testing, Consumers Union found that some companies have inaccurately labeled their products as Energy Star compliant when they are not. In tests of freezers for the September issue of Consumer Reports, one Energy Star freezer, the Haier HUF138EA, used significantly more energy than claimed on its Energy Guide label. On August 13, 2009, Consumers Union informed DOE it should investigate the misleading EnergyGuide and Energy Star labeling.
In Consumers Union’s energy tests, freezers typically consumed on average 17 percent more energy than the amount indicated on the Energy Guide label. The Haier HUF138EA freezer; however, stood out as using 70 percent more energy than other freezers that were tested. Specifically, Consumers Union measured an energy draw of 955 kwH on one sample and 957 kwH on another. The manufacturer claimed 560 kwH as posted on the Haier’s Energy Guide label. The company’s web site currently indicates that the HUF138EA model uses 622 kwH. That deviates from the 560 kwH claimed on the Energy Guide label, which is the figure consumers will use to compare models in the store.
“Appliances are constantly changing and it’s important for the Department of Energy to update procedures so that consumers know which appliances are the most energy efficient ,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter. “For years, the federal testing procedures haven’t kept pace with new technology and products. We hope that DOE will update Energy Star standards and that its new testing policies will help ensure that Energy Star appliances will actually use less energy
Consumers Union will continue its energy-use testing to assist consumers in reducing their energy consumption and looks forward to the Department of Energy’s increased enforcement of Energy Star and energy-usage labeling.
David Butler, 202-462-6262
Kristina Edmunson, 202-462-6262