What is Energy Star and why does it matter?

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Years ago, you’d buy an appliance — perhaps a refrigerator or a lamp — and think nothing of plugging it into your wall and turning it on. You didn’t worry about how much energy it used because energy was relatively cheap. You didn’t worry about where that energy came from because most of us had never heard of climate change. Times have changed!

Today, when you purchase a new appliance, or even a light bulb, you rightly wonder how much electricity it will use and how much it will cost to operate. But how can you find out? The answer is Energy Star.

The Energy Star program is a voluntary international initiative in which manufacturers have their products tested against rigorous energy efficiency standards. If they meet the standards, they can stamp their products with the Energy Star label. This gives them a marketing advantage when consumers — you — are deciding which product to buy. Purchasing an Energy Star certified product ensures you’re getting the highest efficiency possible, saving money and the environment.

Consider how this applies to lighting. In the average North American home, as much as 11% of electricity used is for lighting. That can be reduced significantly — by as much as 70% — by switching from old and inefficient incandescent and CFL bulbs to LED bulbs. However, not all LED bulbs are created equal. They may differ in their energy efficiency, as well as in their color fidelity, life span, and temperature characteristics. So which bulbs should you buy? Those that meet the Energy Star requirements.

Energy Star qualified LED bulbs are certified to have efficiency equal to, or better than, fluorescent bulbs. They produce less heat, are more durable, turn on instantly, produce more consistent light, and last at least 25,000 hours. To be labeled with the Energy Star symbol, they must also come with a minimum three year warranty.

Of course, Energy Star covers much more than light bulbs. Appliances, like dishwashers, clothes washers, and refrigerators. Computers, televisions, air conditioners, and furnaces.

How does Energy Star contribute to reducing climate change? Less energy used means lower greenhouse gas emissions.

True, there is much debate even within the scientific community about the scope and causes of climate change. Are we, with our gas guzzling SUVs, coal-burning power plants, and acre after acre of methane leaking cattle really responsible? Could it just be the Earth going through a natural cycle?

Even if this is a natural cycle, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. The glaciers are still melting. We’re still getting freakish weather. Sea levels are still rising. Maybe we should do something about it. Maybe using less energy is a good thing.

Lower energy bills. Cleaner air. Reduced climate change. Better products. Energy Star is a good deal all around.

Want to save money — and the environment — on your lighting? Get GE’s 9-Watt LED Soft White Light Bulb from Amazon. Yes, it’s Energy Star certified!

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