What is the ENERGY STAR Certification?

Energy Star

Founded in 1992 and run by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy, the ENERGY STAR certification is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. It provides services for buildings, homes, apartments, utilities, local governments, and more, all with the mission of reducing energy costs and electricity use. ENERGY STAR has made a considerable, and positive, environmental impact throughout the years – it has saved 5 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity (equal to a saving 5.7 million years of use from a 100-watt lightbulb), avoided more than $500 billion in energy costs, and achieved 4 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emission reductions (equal to getting 2 billion gasoline-fueled cars off the road for a year) since its founding. 

Is it regulated?

Yes! ENERGY STAR is government-backed and works in conjunction with the EPA and the US Department of Energy. 

How does it work?

The ENERGY STAR product certification is based on a series of strict guidelines set by the EPA or the US Department of Energy. One guideline, for example, requires an automatic low-power “sleep mode” after a period of inactivity for office equipment. The ENERGY STAR certification has these specific regulations for products ranging from clothing washers and dryers, to dishwashers, water heaters, and computers. 

There is also an ENERGY STAR Certification for buildings, which involves a detailed process and begins with a self-evaluation and a site visit to verify the application information. From there, the application is submitted to the EPA and then verified or stamped by a licensed Professional Engineer or a Registered Architect. The typical certification costs around $1,500. 

What kind of products have ENERGY STAR certification?

Any appliance that involves energy can have the ENERGY STAR certification. You can look for the ENERGY STAR certification around your house on dishwashers, coffee brewers, ovens, TVs, and more. 

So…is an appliance “good” if it has the ENERGY STAR certification?

Well… maybe. While ENERGY STAR is a great metric to measure energy efficiency, you should still consider other aspects of company practice and materials used. For example, a product can be energy-efficient, but also contain rare metals that are sourced unethically. 

Still want to learn more? Check out some of our favorite references:


The Environmental Impact of ENERGY STAR