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ENERGY STAR: shooting high enough?

The energy-efficiency label cracks down on logo abusers, but consumers may need more.

Air conditioners will be humming across the country within a few weeks.

Hopefully, the notorious BTU-guzzlers will don the ENERGY STAR label, which certifies them as having a particular energy efficiency level.

These products aren't hard to find. Any successful certification scheme must be recognizable, and more than 40,000 appliances and fixtures are branded with the blue-and-white star.

Still, a recent survey by Ecoalign reports:

The Energy Star brand remains strong, but it may be losing a bit of its edge. There may be issues of differentiation in an increasingly crowded market focused on energy efficiency, energy savings and environmental messaging.

Such branding competition includes HOMESTAR and EPEAT.

As climate change and recession concerns loom, shoppers also want more from the label. More than 90 percent of surveyed participants would prefer it if the program ranked products according to efficiency. This way customers could compare Energy Star items more readily.

Choosing the creme de la creme in energy-saving goods may have Americans lowering their utility bills by even more than the $17 billion they saved last year through Energy Star products, according to a statement released Friday.

Of course, along with recognizing a certification brand, consumers must also be able to trust it.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy have announced new plans for bolstering the Energy Star name through expanded testing and enforcement.

In the last four months, the EPA and DOE have put 35 manufacturers on the spot for failing to live up to the label's standard. Examples include:

  • Removing the Energy Star label from 20 LG refrigerator-freezer models. (LG is also in trouble in Australia after a consumer group found an illegal device in two LG fridge model that enabled them to make false efficiency claims.)
  • Disqualifying 34 compact fluorescent light bulbs from 25 manufacturers.
  • Taking action against 6 shower head producers for not meeting federal water conservation standards.
  • Revoking the partnership with US Inc/US Refrigeration for "a history of logo misuse, unresponsiveness, and pattern of failure to comply with Energy Star program guidelines."


Image:
Flickr_macwagen and Energy Star

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com