LG refrigerators earned the Energy Star designation when the manufacturer declared testing showed they met the federal program’s standards for energy consumption.   Buyers of the South Korean–made appliances could cart them home confident they would save electricity and reduce greenhouse gases.   And the refrigerators did both those things — as long as their owners didn’t turn on the ice makers. Make some ice, however, and the machines gobbled up so much electricity the blue Energy Star label turned scarlet in shame.">   LG refrigerators earned the Energy Star designation when the manufacturer declared testing showed they met the federal program’s standards for energy consumption.   Buyers of the South Korean–made appliances could cart them home confident they would save electricity and reduce greenhouse gases.   And the refrigerators did both those things — as long as their owners didn’t turn on the ice makers. Make some ice, however, and the machines gobbled up so much electricity the blue Energy Star label turned scarlet in shame.">   LG refrigerators earned the Energy Star designation when the manufacturer declared testing showed they met the federal program’s standards for energy consumption.   Buyers of the South Korean–made appliances could cart them home confident they would save electricity and reduce greenhouse gases.   And the refrigerators did both those things — as long as their owners didn’t turn on the ice makers. Make some ice, however, and the machines gobbled up so much electricity the blue Energy Star label turned scarlet in shame."> Appliance, Test Thyself - Easy Being Green, Central PA Magazine, April 2010 | Magazine copied | witf.org
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Appliance, Test Thyself - Easy Being Green, Central PA Magazine, April 2010

Written by Jon Ferguson | Mar 22, 2010 5:07 PM

The manufacturer had turned off the ice maker during the test procedure.

 

“They did try and game the system,” says Maria T. Vargas, the communications director for Energy Star. “And we have removed the Energy Star from over 20 refrigerator models that LG made, because they did not meet Energy Star requirements.”

 

In large measure, the Energy Star program, which is administered by the federal Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, is built upon trust.

 

The program — which encompasses more than 60 products, including refrigerators, TVs, computers, furnaces and air conditioners, along with homes, schools and commercial buildings — is completely voluntary.

 

The government sets standards for energy consumption, and a manufacturer, if it so chooses, can qualify for the Energy Star label if it can show through its own testing that its products meet those standards. The government trusts that manufacturers aren’t going to cheat.

 

That doesn’t mean, however, that the feds turn a blind eye once an Energy Star is awarded.

 

“We are very active in terms of monitoring the mark,” says Vargas, who has been with Energy Star since the program’s inception in 1992. “We do mystery shopping. There’s a lot we do to protect the integrity of the mark and make sure the products genuinely earn the Energy Star.

 

“What we know about a competitive marketplace is, if a product doesn’t perform, I will hear about it from competitors. One thing I do know is true is, these competitors are testing each other’s products all the time. If there’s a problem, we hear about it.”

 

Despite that, Vargas says the program, because it has become such an important tool for consumers, is embarking on third-party testing so it can better verify the claims of manufacturers.

 

For the program to be effective, consumers have to be able to trust it.

 

“It’s an easy label,” says Vargas. “A product either has it or it doesn’t.”

 

If a product does carry the Energy Star label, Vargas says it means it is more energy efficient than a conventional product; it means it is a cost-effective investment; and it means there is no sacrifice in performance.

 

Energy Star was created by the Environmental Protection Agency with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the efficient use of energy. The first product to receive an Energy Star label was a computer.

 

In 2008, the most recent year for which figures are available, Vargas says Energy Star helped Americans save about $18 billion on their energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 29 million cars.

 

Considering the program started in 1992, it’s fair to say the folks behind Energy Star were ahead of the curve in terms of their concern about greenhouse gases and global warming.

 

“It’s getting people to realize the energy they use has consequences,” Vargas says. “If we are efficient and eliminate the waste, not only do homeowners get to benefit by reduced energy bills, but the environment wins as well.”

 

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