All about ENERGY STAR

ENERGY STAR was introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1992 as a way to identify and promote energy-efficient products and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past two decades, the ENERGY STAR brand has been a driving force behind the more widespread use of technological innovations and the program has grown substantially. The ENERGY STAR label is now on major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, new homes, and commercial and industrial buildings and plants. The program has successfully delivered energy and cost savings across the country, saving businesses, organizations, and consumers an estimated $24 billion in 2012 alone.

American consumers, businesses and organizations have made investments in energy efficiency. Now in its 24th year, the ENERGY STAR program has boosted the adoption of energy-efficient products, practices and services through valuable partnerships, objective measurement tools, and consumer education. 

The key to ENERGY STAR’s success truly is in the partnerships the program has formed. By establishing interplay between government, businesses, and market forces, ENERGY STAR has changed the energy efficiency landscape. Organizations of all sizes have embraced the value of ENERGY STAR and made it their own. From ENERGY STAR’s founding in 1992 through 2013, families and businesses have saved more than $295 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Did you know that energy use in homes, buildings and industry account for two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States? Lower energy use can be as simple as making a few quick changes to your home. Those same changes can save you money and help the environment. If you’re looking for ways to lower your energy bill and/or lessen your environmental impact, here are a few tips to get you started:

Seal and Insulate

Sealing air leaks and adding insulation around your home can be one of the most efficient ways to save energy. For many, this one step can save up to 10 percent annually. Things as simple as installing weather stripping on doors and filling holes around windows with caulk can make a world of difference.

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR

The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program is a national program administered by the U.S. Department of Energy in conjunction with the EPA. The program looks for whole house solutions that improve home efficiency, comfort and indoor air quality while reducing energy bills. Homeowners who participate in the program find their homes to be warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, and more affordable to operate year-round. 

Heat and Cool Efficiently

Heating and cooling your home can account for as much as half of your energy bill. By making smart changes to increase the efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling, you can effectively make your home more comfortable while also making your utility bills more reasonable. Take the steps below to make the most of your home’s heating and cooling.

  • Change your air filter regularly. A dirty air filter slows down air flow and makes your system work harder to heat or cool your home. It’s a good idea to check your air filter monthly. At a minimum, you’ll want to change your filter every three months, but if it looks dirty after only a month, change it out early.

  • Tune up your HVAC equipment annually. A yearly tune up to your HVAC system will increase energy efficiency and comfort in the same way that a tune up on your car will increase gas mileage.

  • Install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats are great for people who are away from home for set times during the week. By setting your thermostat to automatically adapt to your regular schedule, you can save about $180 every year in energy costs

  • Seal your heating and cooling ducts. Sealing certain ducts can increase your heating and cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20 percent. Start by sealing ducts that run through the attic, crawl space, basement and garage using duct sealant or metal-back tape to seal seams and connections of ducts. Then wrap those ducts in insulation to avoid them getting hot in the summer or cold in the winter. Then look for any other ducts you can seal in the heated or cooled parts of the house that are usually unoccupied. For more information, see ENERGY STAR’s Duct Sealing brochure.  

  • Consider upgrading to ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment. Have your HVAC system evaluated by a professional. If it’s not working efficiently, needs upgrading or is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with an ENERGY STAR qualified model to get the most bang for your buck.

  • Ask about proper installation of your new equipment. Replacing your old heating or cooling system with a new energy-efficient model is great first step to a more efficient home. But make sure that the new system you’ve purchased is installed properly. Improper installation doesn’t allow new equipment to perform at its best and can make a system 30 percent less efficient.

Appliances and Electronics

ENERGY STAR offers many options when shopping around for new appliances and electronics. When browsing for new devices look for the blue ENERGY STAR logo to distinguish energy-efficient models from the ones that are less efficient. Also, use the yellow Energy Guide label for a full description of the product’s energy features including how much energy it will consume and the estimated yearly operating cost.

Lighting

What kind of lightbulbs do you use at home? If you’re still using traditional incandescent bulbs, it may be time to upgrade. These traditional bulbs use a lot of energy to make light, but actually give off 90 percent of that energy as heat making them only 10 percent efficient. Halogen incandescents, CFLs and LEDs are better options for efficiency and are some of the most energy-efficient bulbs on the market.

Windows, Doors and Skylights

Replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR-certified windows, doors, and skylights offer greater energy savings than ever before. On average, this upgrade can lower a household’s energy bill by around 12 percent.

For more information on ENERGY STAR, visit their website.