April 1, 2017

Energy Star on the chopping block

Since it was established in the 1990s, the Energy Star program has saved U.S. consumers some $360 billion, mostly in electricity and water costs. According to a program report, consumers and business saved $31.5 billion in 2014 alone, while costs were about $57 million. That puts the return on investment for taxpayers at about 550 to 1.

The concept is simple: When someone goes to buy a washing machine (or drier, or blender, or light bulb), she looks at a number of factors — the price, the capacity, the size, maybe the brand name — and picks the one that is the cheapest while meeting her needs. But it's not always obvious what the ownership cost of a washing machine is. How much water does it use? How much electricity? In other words: How efficient is it? The Energy Star program (which has a whopping 85 percent brand recognition rate in the United States) offers that valuable information. 

And largely because of that high recognition rate, the program also incentivizes manufacturers to develop and offer more efficient products. Energy Star sells.

But maybe not for long. President Trump reportedly aims to kill the program entirely.
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