Today is Energy Star Day, which kicks off two weeks of events celebrating the program's 20th anniversary. With help from Energy Star, American families and businesses have saved nearly $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, says Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. And she'd like consumers to take a pledge to save even more.
Consumers can take the pledge to make such low-cost changes as replacing a few incandescent lightbulbs with CFLs or LEDs or to make a big investment such as installing a new water heater. Energy Star also encourages homeowners to seal leaks with weatherstripping or caulking, something that their experts and ours say results in immediate savings.
We agree that the country is a much more efficient place thanks to Energy Star. Whether you're shopping for a clothes washer, computer, refrigerator, or room air conditioner, the Energy Star label is an instant reminder that energy efficiency should be part of your decision process. Energy efficiency is a vital part of Consumer Reports appliance and television tests—we let you know how much it costs to run a refrigerator or TV set per year and which appliances use more energy than others, or more than they should.
Over the years we've had our quibbles with Energy Star. In a 2008 investigation, "Energy Star Has Lost Its Luster," we exposed the fact that some Energy Star-qualified refrigerators were using significantly more energy than stated on their yellow EnergyGuide label. And we've argued that lax qualifying standards have, at times, resulted in product categories in which most of the models on the market carry the Energy Star label. But the program continues to tweak and tighten its regulations resulting in more energy-efficient products.
Energy savers can share their stories on the Energy Star website or play games with the Lorax. And at Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, we've partnered with Green America in a contest called "America's cutest lil' energy savers." Catch your kid saving energy, post the video on YouTube and you're eligible to win $250. Here's the rules. Contest entries are due October 22 and judging begins the next day.
—Mary H.J. Farrell