You did your homework and bought an energy-efficient refrigerator.
It has the Energy Star rating, so you’re thinking that you might save some money on the electric bill and help to green your house by purchasing it.
You might be wrong.
In the October issue of Consumer Reports, “Save Energy, Save Money“, an article entitled “Energy Star has lost some luster” has stirred up some controversy. Consumer Reports rated one refrigerator as using 60% more electricity than the Energy Star label stated, and one, the LG LMX25981ST French-door fridge, as using more than double the energy on the label.
It turns out that according to the Department of Energy (DOE) procedures for testing, the refrigerator’s ice machine should be turned off during the test. Turning off the ice maker on some models, like the one tested, also turns off the cooling to the ice-making compartment.
Who buys a refrigerator with an ice-maker and then shuts it off?
The Consumer Reports article brings to light several points about the Energy Star rating:
- The qualifying standards are lax. About 25 percent of products in a category should qualify for the Energy Star, according to the EPA. But until recently, for example, 92 percent of all dishwashers qualified.
- Tests are not performed under working conditions. Ice-makers can be shut off for testing, and dishwashers used to be rated with a load of clean dishes, not dirty ones.
- Companies test their own products. The DOE does not test for compliance, and there is no independent verification.
- The procedures for testing are out of date. It takes about three years for the DOE to publish new rules, and three more for them to take effect. The technology of our appliances has out-paced the testing procedures.
Loopholes like these let manufacturers label their products as more energy efficient than they are, and they get the Energy Star to promote their “energy efficiency”.
In response to the article, the EPA had this to say:
The article misses the basic purpose of the ENERGY STAR program. ENERGY STAR helps consumers not just find energy-efficient products, but ones that will cost-effectively help them save money while protecting our environment.
Increasing the market share of qualifying products from their initial levels is a goal of the program — not a fundamental flaw or an indication that the requirements are lax, as the article suggests.
Consumer Reports responds:
We support the work of the DOE and the EPA with regards to the Energy Star program, but loopholes in testing procedures and lax standards have resulted in the issues highlighted in the article. We stand behind our article and repeat the call for the following:
- updated energy-use test procedures and standards
- independent verification of manufacturers’ self-reported test results
- a graded qualifying system for Energy Star
- tougher policing of standards by federal officials
Read the original article here: Energy Star has lost some luster
Read the EPA’s response here: Letter to the Editor of Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports guide: How to interpret the EnergyGuide label
Who ya gonna believe? The independent, non-profit testing expert, or the manufacturer of the appliance?
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