Energy Star Savings | Exaggerated Promises?

October 9, 2008 6:38:00 PM PDT
With people looking to cut energy use and save money, the energy star is more important than ever.The program started in the '90s, and it saved Americans 16-billion dollars in energy costs last year alone, according to government statistics.

From dishwashers and washing machines to computers and televisions, more than 50 different types of products are covered under the energy star program. But consumer reports' tests show the energy star doesn't always signal the biggest energy or money savings.

Consumer Reports Kim Kleman said, "We found problems with the Energy Star program and its test protocol that can result in manufacturers labeling their products more energy efficient than they are when you really use them."

Consumer Reports' tests found big discrepancies with two newer French-door refrigerators. Samsung says this refrigerator, which qualifies for an Energy Star, consumes an estimated 540 kilowatt-hours per year. But consumer reports' tests, which are more demanding than energy star to better reflect real life use, show this refrigerator uses 890 kilowatt-hours per year.

LG says this refrigerator, which also has an Energy Star, uses an estimated 547 kilowatt-hours per year. But Consumer Reports tougher tests show energy use could be more than double that.

But not all Energy Star information is so far afield. Maytag says this newer French-door refrigerator uses an estimated 547 kilowatt- hours per year. Consumer Reports tests show 565 kilowatt-hours per year.

Kim Kleman said, "Federal officials have acknowledged to us that test procedures have not kept pace with technology. We think that needs to change."

But despite the problems, Consumer Reports says the energy star can still be a useful first check.

Kim Kleman said, "And if the product you want has an Energy Guide, compare the money savings on that label, too."

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