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Shoppers weigh the Energy Star label

Posted December 7, 2009

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— Consumers sometimes wonder if they can really conserve energy by buying an appliance with the Energy Star label.

"I think yes and no," said Dona Stankus, building programs manager with the North Carolina Solar Center in the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University.

What is the Energy Star label worth? What is the Energy Star label worth?

The Energy Star program is a government effort to help consumers pick the most energy-efficient appliances. Appliance manufacturers test their own products.

However, last year Consumer Reports found discrepancies between manufacturers' claims and the magazine's independent tests. Sometimes, companies turned off some features or used special settings to meet Energy Star criteria.

The government is considering changing the Energy Star program, including toughening standards and creating a new designation. An "Energy Superstar" program would identify the top 5 percent of energy-efficient products.

Still, Stankus said, finding an Energy Star label is a good start to figuring out if an appliance is energy efficient.

"That tells you they made the first attempt, that they're trying to be part of a program that saves energy," she said.

Stankus said buyers should also look at the yellow Energy Guide label to see how much electricity an appliance uses and how much it would cost to operate in a year.

Bill Revenaugh, a father-of-two shopping for a front-loading washer and dryer, said he's come to the conclusion that picking energy-efficient appliances is a smart choice for everyone.

"We're all looking to not only save money," he said, "but also to be good to the planet."

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  • micah Dec 7, 2009

    I think one of the main cost-saving issues pertaining to computers is (was) the enormous amount of power a CRT monitor draws. A standard PC without a lot of active peripheral devices uses between 100 and 140 watts. A standard 12 inch CRT monitor can use as much as 300 watts. There is nothing wrong with having your monitor shut off after some amount of idle time. It does not effect the reliability of the computer itself in any way, 99% of the time. The CRT is used in an increasing minority today, and LCD panels are much more efficient. LCD's do use a significant amount of power though, and having them auto-standby is a really good idea. Saving 80 watts or so doesn't seem like much (though it is about 0.20 cents a day), but multiply that by thousands of idle monitors and the benefit is clear!

  • mtadish Dec 7, 2009

    If shoppers were smart, they'd wonder why their tax dollars were going to a Government agency that monitors the amount of energy an appliance uses, in order to save you money. Seems the less energy the appliance uses the higher the price. So, if there is such a concern about climate change/ global shouldn't they be paying to modify homes for renewable energy sources?

  • skeeter II Dec 7, 2009

    There may be some energy savings, but I am not sure this is not an advertising issue. I have lived though ice-boxes (used ice to cool the contents), kerosene lamps, no electricity, WW II, etc.

    Items are not manufactured to last as they were many years earlier. Part of the "disposable" rather than repair as in the "good old days".

    Computers and other electrical items do not "turn off" but rather stay on and draw electricity after you push the off button!

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Dec 7, 2009

    ncwebguy, thanks for the wholesale slam. You sir, or madame, whichever is appropriate, are speaking to someone with decades of experience in the field. There are many applications and network connections that are very irratic when system go into Standby or Hibernate. Everything I do is done exactly as I would do my own system and with reliability as the #1 factor. So unless you're familiar with the business, you shouldn't make wholesale comments like that.

    Concerning CFL bulbs, I'm 100% with you on that. Nearly all bulbs in my home are CFL. I said I didn't use Power Saving Features on computers. I didn't say I was against saving energy or money.

  • ncwebguy Dec 7, 2009

    Anyone who ties energy saving features to reliabilty, and thinks it only saves "5 cents" should not be allowed anywhere near a computer. Making such decisions without customer input suggests horrible customer service.

    Who won't see the cost savings? Are you going to die in the next year? If you are living any longer than that, the savings from CFL bulbs will more than pay for themselves. Not sure if people are ignorant of the facts, bad at math, or a combination of the two.

    The decades long "me me me -- forget the future" philosophy pushed by the GOP for decades has destroyed every facet of this country. Now they working hard to shift the blame on Obama for their recklessness. The worst is their claims of "personal responsibity", though that is as empty as their claims of "patriotism" and "liberty".

  • ruthpauly Dec 7, 2009

    There is plenty of power so just don't worry about it. We can drill drill drill and be fine. Don't worry about saving anything the power co's, banks and credit folks will take care of it all. Blind leading the blind! I am going to turn the heat up to 85 to be warmer.

  • Nunya123 Dec 7, 2009

    jjb - apparently you haven't figured out how to use the ignore button if you don't like my posts. Just reinforces the intelligence comments I make.

  • jjb Dec 7, 2009

    If you can't stand GOLO anymore then go away... Oh, but you have got to be the smartest person in the room.

  • Nunya123 Dec 7, 2009

    It is quite funny to watch the uneducated post in here. Hope none of you not interested in conserving energy ever breed. Limitless energy must exist where you morons come from (probably the same ones complaining about raising energy rates) since it certainly doesn't exist were I come from.

  • withnailharrison Dec 7, 2009

    ohmygosh -
    Your take on this is kind of sad - just because you (or your generation) might not see any visible impact of conserving energy at this late stage in your life is no reason to thumb your nose at the concept. Do you have kids? Do you really feel no responsibility for future generations? It's time to step up to the plate!

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