The History of Energy Star

BY: Christina Hansen


energy star logoGreen isn't just a color anymore: these days, it's the lifestyle of choice. From cutting down on power, water and gas consumption to recycling and switching over to sustainable natural products, the goal of "living green" to preserve the environment has found its way into every aspect of our everyday lives.

Now more than ever, the name Energy Star is popping up as we shop for everything from kitchen appliances to computers. As a matter of fact, some houses are even labeled "Energy Star." And while it's easy to think of Energy Star as a brand or manufacturer, that's actually not the case at all. In reality, Energy Star is a government-originated international standard that sets guidelines for, and approves, products designed to consume less energy.

Want to know more about what's behind the labels on your laptop and refrigerator? Read on for facts on how Energy Star was started, and how it's grown to have such an impact on the way we live today.

  • The Energy Star program was launched by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1992, as a way to reduce the power consumption and greenhouse gases production of power plants.
  • Although Energy Star began in the US, the program has now been implemented by Canada, the European Union (EU), Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
  • The very first Energy Star labels were used on certain computer products, to show that they consumed anywhere from 20-30% less electricity than similar products designed to more traditional federal standards.
  • In 1995, Energy Star made the jump from computers to a variety of other appliances and devices, including residential heating and cooling systems.
  • In order to qualify as an Energy Star-certified home, a house typically needs to include Energy Star appliances and lighting, proper insulation, high-efficiency windows, well-sealed construction and ductwork, and energy-efficient heating and cooling, as well as consume a minimum of 15% less electricity than residences that have been built to IRC 2004 standards.
  • By 2006, nearly 12% of new homes built in the United States had Energy Star certification.
  • Energy Star ratings no longer apply to just power plants and homes; they're now also designated for public and commercial structures like schools, dormitories, hospitals, medical offices, municipal buildings (courthouses), banks, hotels, retail stores, warehouses, and industrial facilities like wastewater treatment centers, cement plants, automotive assembly factories and corn refineries.
  • Fluorescent light bulbs rated as Energy Star last up to 10 times longer than regular incandescent lights, and use an average of 75% less energy.
  • Energy Star LED lights also use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, but last up to 5 times longer than fluorescent bulbs, and are warranted for a minimum of 3 years.
  • Energy Star standards are regularly updated (often on a yearly basis), so to find the latest products, information and tips on saving energy, be sure to visit