Warning: Be Weary of the Energy Star Ratings You See

What kind of feeling do you get when you see the Energy Star label on the appliance you’re about to purchase?

Maybe you don’t feel anything at all. Or, maybe you do. Maybe you get warmer, a little more comfortable that the appliance you’re about to buy will be light on energy costs. Plus, you know you’re doing the right thing in getting an energy-efficient appliance too.

However, many TV manufacturers may have found a method for duping the Energy Star system. We won’t name specific names in this post. But, we will show you what they do to get that label on there, even if their TVs don’t meet Energy Star standards.

The good news is that it’s not the DOE’s Energy Star that’s involved in the cheating.

What TV Manufacturers Did

The standard test for a TV’s energy efficiency involves a 10-minute video loop that replicates the way the average American watches TV. The DOE’s report on TV manufacturers does mention that the 10-minute video loop test includes a number of short scenes that doesn’t represent how TV viewing typically works.

That seems to incriminate the DOE and Energy Star to a certain extent. At the same time, the report also claims some TV manufacturers made software to thwart the test and give false positive results. Certain manufacturers’ TVs unexplainably dropped in their energy use during the test.

Ecos Research, a consulting agency for the National Resources Defense Council, created its own test loop that more accurately reflects how TV gets used by consumers. With the DOE’s test loop, energy use dropped by 58%. But, it dropped just 13% with the newly created one.

Though Well-Intended, Energy Star Has Its Flaws

Most Energy Star products deliver you the energy savings you believe you should get. The historical problem has been that many manufacturers certify their own numbers for Energy Star. Then Energy Star simply okays those numbers without actually checking their accuracy.

In the majority of cases, companies are 100% honest.

To test Energy Star, the Government Accountability office submitted 20 completely fake products for certification. 15 were approved. And one of the approvals was for a gasoline-powered alarm clock! Today, Energy Star now requires third-party certification by an EPA-recognized entity.

But now, as you’ve heard about on the news headlines in the case of TVs, the tests don’t necessarily replicate how consumers will use the products once they buy them. And manufacturers may be designing their products to thwart the tests, instead of for American consumers.

Should you trust Energy Star? For now, yes. But, you still need to keep a level of healthy skepticism.

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