What Does The Energy Star Logo Mean?
Whether it’s a splash screen on your monitor when you boot up your PC or a sticker on something for sale, you’ve probably seen that familiar “Energy Star” logo.
Let’s be honest, energy efficiency isn’t at the top of your list of concerns when choosing a gadget to buy. But there must be a reason it appears on so many devices. Right? So, lets get into the details.
What is ENERGY STAR?
Energy Star is a US government initiative introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency all the way back in 1992. Although it’s an American creation, the program also exists in Canada, Switzerland, Japan, and Taiwan.
The idea is to label energy-efficient products from light bulbs to PCs to even whole buildings. Even if you don’t care about the environment because it has too many errors or bugs, the certification is designed to help you save money on your power bill.
What Is an Energy Star Rating?
The program does this by setting specific standards for different product categories. The Energy Star rating specify whether that product meets a certain criteria or guidelines regarding the energy efficiency.
So, let’s go through what this means for gamers, starting with PCs and their power supplies.
This one is easy to remember for any of you who have built or upgraded a computer before. An Energy Star-certified PC has to perform at least at an 80-Plus Bronze level. This means it has to run at 82% efficiency at 20% or 100% load, and 85% efficiency at 50% load.
If you’re in the market for a TV instead, Energy Star follows a more complicated formula to determine if it’s compliant. Given that power-sucking CRT monitors are obsolete, the requirements are fairly unforgiving.
A 55-inch TV can’t consume more than 57 watts, and a 65-inch TV can’t use more than 69 watts. These days most of the TVs are connected to the internet in the background even when they’re turned off. And Energy Star TVs can’t use more than three watts in this state.
But let’s say you found your soulmate and it’s time to go out and buy a washing machine together. Energy Star quantifies these with something called energy factors, numbers that are calculated mostly based on how much energy they consume per pound of clothes.
These energy factors aren’t really useful for consumers, but certified washers are supposed to use 25% less energy and 1/3 less water than non-certified models, while certified dryers should save you about 20% on your power bill.
Reduced Energy Costs Using Energy Star Labeled Products
Remember how your parents were always yelling at you to turn off the lights to save money? Light bulbs have been a focal point for change in recent years. We went from old-school incandescent bulbs to those spring-looking CFLs to modern LEDs in a relatively short amount of time.
Pretty much all new LED bulbs are far more energy efficient than older technologies whether they’re Energy Star or not. The difference is you’re supposed to expect Energy Star bulbs to actually last as long as they say they will on the box, at least 15,000 hours, and retain a certain percentage of their original brightness over time. They also can’t draw more than half a watt when they’re turned off.
However, you’ll need a place to put all this stuff, so maybe you’ll end up looking into an Energy Star house? Through better insulation, ceiling, and windows, as well as more efficient HVAC systems, they should be between 20% and 30% more efficient than non-certified homes.
But how do you know that all this stuff actually meets the stated energy targets? I mean, I did used to be the case that products could be certified without testing, which doesn’t make any sense.
But now, testing of all products has to be done in an approved lab before they get the Energy Star badge. And random off-the-shelf testing is also done to make sure companies aren’t sending in cherry-picked products or slacking after they get the certification.
Sounds good, no?
Is It Worth Getting Energy Star Rated Products?
Is paying extra for Energy Star gadgets worth it in terms of how much power you’ll save? The answer is, it depends.
Energy Star products will certainly use much less power than devices from 20 or so years ago, but when comparing modern products to each other, the differences between compliant and non-compliant models may or may not be all that compelling.
Check and see what energy prices are like in your area and exactly how much power each product consumes before shilling out more money just to get something labeled “Energy Star.” I don’t want any of you to buy a $2,000 fridge just so you can save two bucks before it dies.