Friday, February 5, 2010


Phil saw his shadow. Pennsylvania is bracing for snow. It’s February, the month for “Presidents’ Day” appliance sales.

With Presidents’ Day around the corner, it seemed an appropriate time to explain ENERGY STAR ratings. ENERGY STAR was introduced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) In 1992  as a voluntary labeling program designed to make it easy for consumers to “identify and purchase energy-efficient products that offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance, features, and comfort.” Computers and monitors were the first labeled products.

Since 1996, it has been a joint program with the US Department of Energy, and the list of rated products has expanded to include these categories: appliances, computers and electronics, heating and cooling, lighting and fans, plumbing, and building products (including roofing, windows, and insulation).

If you have an appliance over a decade old, chances are you will have significant savings on electricity and water usage if you purchase a new one wisely. And the sales are on!

If you decide to go shopping look for two things:
*  The ENERGY STAR label, awarded only to a product meeting ENERGY STAR specifications.
*  The yellow EnergyGuide label. This tells you how much energy it takes to operate the appliance. Use it to compare the energy use of similar models and estimate annual operating costs.

Many products are eligible for rebates. You can find the ones in your area by clicking your state on this map. With funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Connecticut consumers can get rebates on air conditioners, clothes washers, freezers, and refrigerators. These rebates are in addition to any offered by the manufacturer. If you are on the fence, check this out. Now may be a good time to buy.

Whether or not you shop, do check out the rest of the ENERGY STAR site. It contains a cornucopia of resources including an interactive tool for helping you save energy in your home, a do-It-yourself guide for sealing and insulating, a search area for information on products, and an array of educational materials for kids.

Winter has us in its grip, and we are using lots of energy. What better time to do all we can to save all we can?

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