Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is Energy Star Label Really a Sign of Efficiency?

Does the Energy Star label on that appliance you might purchase really indicate that it's energy efficient? The U.S. Department of Energy's Inspector General contends that it may not. The New York Times has reported that an internal audit by the DOE OIG, Gregory H. Friedman, shows that DOE officials do not properly verify that manufacturers giving their appliances an Energy Star label meet the required specifications for energy efficiency.

The Energy Star program is jointly managed by the DOE and the Environmental Protection Agency. Among the findings in Audit Report: The Department's Management of the Energy Star Program is that DOE officials had not "Developed a formal quality assurance program to help ensure that product specifications were adhered to; Effectively monitored the use of the ENERGY STAR label to ensure that only qualifying products were labeled as compliant; [or] Formalized procedures for establishing and revising product specifications and for documenting decisions regarding those specifications." This report is particularly interesting in light of the fact that the federal stimulus bill allows $300 million to provide rebates for consumers who purchase Energy Star products.

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