The first chink in the Energy Star brand came late in 2008, when the EPA's Inspector General found that the many of the program's alleged benefits could not be demonstrated. In 2006, for example, Energy Star claimed to have reduced carbon waste by 37 million metric tons and saved consumers $14 billion in electric costs. The Inspector General's office found that these claims were unproven, and that the EPA had relied upon "unverified third-party reporting." This latter finding was to prove particularly damaging: ApplianceAdvisor noted that (among other problems) much of the Energy Star testing was conducted by appliance manufacturers who had a vested interest in getting the program's coveted blue label -- and charging customers extra money for it.And while energy consumption has fluctuated in recent years, the US (with Canada coming in second in a close race) uses more electric power per person than any other industrial country. (US - 8.35 Tonnes-of-oil-equivalent or TOE, Canada - 8.16 TOE, with Finland coming in third with 6.4 TOE). Most of Europe uses about half the electric-power per capita as we do.
But I digress. Let's get back to EnergyStar....
Earlier this year, Congressional auditors submitted twenty fictitious appliances for Energy Star certification. The whimsical products -- including a gasoline-powered alarm clock, an air filter with attached feather duster, and a metal roof panel -- were submitted with insufficient documentation and no third-party verification of their energy consumption claims. Yet fifteen were granted Energy Star verification, often within days of the request.Heh. A gas-powered alarm clock. At least it would probably wake you up in the event of a power failure.
When a 30 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer with ice and water coming through a plastic (mostly non-insulated) door panel gets EnergyStar rating, you know something is screwy. (I get by with about 2 cubic feet of refrigeration space. It is smaller than I would like, and I have to shop constantly, but it doesn't cost much to run.) Why do Americans even want that much refrigeration space? It's not like anyone cooks that much.
But never fear, your trusty government is going to fix everything! (They're here to help.)