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Apr 142010
 

From Green Right Now Reports

Following criticism that it was too easy for manufacturers to get an Energy Star label, and that some appliances had slipped through the system with less-than promised energy savings, the EPA today announced that it was tightening the Energy Star product certification process.

imagesThe changes aim to ensure that only products that truly meet the Energy Star label requirements will receive the federal endorsement.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, which both oversee the Energy Star program, worked over several months to improve “the verification, testing and enforcement aspects of the Energy Star program,” according to an EPA release.

The changes were prompted by a 2009 audit that found some appliances receiving the Energy Star label  were not measuring up, mainly because the Energy Star program failed to track performance.

The audit by the  Energy Department’s inspector general, Gregory H. Friedman found that the Energy Star label for computers and TVs was not “verifiable,” and also turned up problems with some refrigerators, specifically some LG models that did not meet Energy Star standards. (Those problems were resolved after a lawsuit.)

In the report, Friedman noted that the Energy Star label was only as good as its reliability and that problems could reduce consumer confidence in the program. That was a note echoed in today’s news release about tighter controls on the program.

“Consumers trust the Energy Star brand to save them money and reduce carbon pollution,” said Cathy Zoi, DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “The steps we are taking to strengthen the program will ensure that Energy Star continues to be the hallmark for energy efficiency in the years to come.”

The changes to shore up the Energy Star certification will put an end to self-verification by manufacturers, upon whom the EPA had relied for honest assessments. Going forward, manufacturers who want to qualify products for Energy Star label must submit complete lab reports and results for review ahead of time by the EPA.

The EPA also will “no longer (be) relying on an automated approval process,” according to Wednesday’s news release.”  All new qualification applications will be reviewed and approved individually by EPA.

Furthermore, all products across 60 possible categories, from windows to dishwashers, must submit energy testing results by independent accredited labs to the program. That has been a requirement for some products, but not all types of consumer items eligible for the program.

All this is in addition to ongoing testing already in place, the EPA reported.

DOE conducts off-the-shelf product testing for some of the most common household appliances and reports that a recent Inspector General audit found that 98 percent of products tested met  Energy Star requirements.