Energy Star logoBetween rising energy costs and the enduring threat of climate change, it’s more important than ever for homeowners to invest in energy efficiency. A ton of household appliances—from refrigerators to air conditioners to light bulbs and computers—consume excess energy and hike up your personal energy expenses.

On a larger scale, though, this surplus energy usage contributes to the carbon footprint of your town, your city, and our country as a whole. When we use more energy than necessary, we deplete valuable resources and release harmful emissions that destroy the environment.

Investing in energy efficient products, then, is a win-win. It’s good for your wallet and good for the environment. But how can you tell whether or not a household appliance is energy efficient? Fortunately, the Energy Star program is in place to assist you. Energy Star rated products are ones that are certified to cut down energy costs and help preserve the environment.

What is Energy Star?

Energy Star, established in 1992, is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy which evaluates and promotes the energy efficiency of products and practices. Its primary goals are to reduce energy consumption, lessen greenhouse gas emissions, and increase energy security by insisting upon the highest standards of energy efficiency for products, homes, and industries.

Each Energy Star rated product, designated with a blue label, has been third-party certified in an EPA-recognized laboratory to consume less energy and expel fewer harmful emissions than similar appliances. In windows, the Energy Star rating indicates that it saves on energy by allowing less heat to transfer through the window, saving on heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. Recognized in countries around the world, the Energy Star label is the most trustworthy indicator of a product’s energy efficiency.

Why Invest in Energy Star Rated Products?

So what does this mean for you as a homeowner? It means that Energy Star rated products are the ones you want to be looking for whenever you’re shopping for new household appliances. Here are some reasons why.

Cost Efficiency: Energy Star rated products will save you money in the long run. While Energy Star rated appliances typically cost slightly more than alternatives up front, they pay for themselves over the years in money saved on energy bills. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that Energy Star products can decrease energy usage and costs by as much as 10 to 50 percent.

When evaluating an Energy Star rated product against an alternative product, like a window, figure out how much money the Energy Star rated product will save you per year, then multiply that amount by the appliance’s estimated lifespan to determine how much you’ll save in total. Almost always you’ll find that the Energy Star rated products are worth the higher initial investments by a long shot.

Environmental Preservation: By limiting fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, Energy Star rated appliances help preserve the environment and its resource supply. They also help bolster our country’s energy security by conserving resources and lessening our dependence upon foreign oil.

Comfort and Convenience: Energy Star rated products tend to function more efficiently than alternative appliances, which can add to the overall comfort level of your home. Energy Star rated windows, for instance, do a better job of keeping your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Certain Energy Star washers and dryers, too, enable you to wash more clothes in a single load and dry them faster, making things easier on you.

Within a few years of installing an Energy Star rated product in your home, it’ll pay for itself and start saving you significant amounts of money on energy costs. They’ll also make your house more comfortable to live in, reduce energy waste and pollution, and contribute to the preservation of our environment.