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The Energy Star logo is placed on energy-efficient products. Energy Star is an international standard for energy efficient consumer products originated in the United States of America. It was first created as a United States government program during the early 1990s, but Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and the European Union have also adopted the program. Devices carrying the Energy Star logo, such as computer products and peripherals, kitchen appliances, buildings and other products, generally use 20%-30% less energy than required by federal standards. However, many European-targeted products are labeled using a different standard, TCO Certification, a combined energy usage and ergonomics rating from the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees (TCO) instead of Energy Star.
The Energy Star program was created in the early 1990's by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in an attempt to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission by power plants. The program was developed by John S. Hoffman, inventor of the Green Programs at EPA, working closely with the IT industry, and implemented by Cathy Zoi and Brian Johnson. The program was intended to be part of a series of voluntary programs, such as Green Lights and the Methane Programs, that would demonstrate the potential for profit in reducing greenhouse gases and facilitate further steps to reducing global warming gases.
Initiated as a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy efficient products, Energy Star began with labels for computer and printer products. In 1995 the program was significantly expanded, introducing labels for residential heating and cooling systems and new homes. As of 2006, more than 40,000 Energy Star products are available in a wide range of items including major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, and more. In addition, the label can also be found on new homes and commercial and industrial buildings. In 2006, about 12 percent of new housing in the United States was labeled Energy Star.
The EPA estimates that it saved about $14 billion in energy costs in 2006 alone. The Energy Star program has helped spread the use of LED traffic lights, efficient fluorescent lighting, power management systems for office equipment, and low standby energy use.
In 2008, the EPA announced Green Power Partnership program, which was designed to help achieve its goal of encouraging the use of renewable power sources. The renewable energy credits allow companies without direct access to renewable power achieve their goals. However, to avoid companies buying RECs years in advance of any of the hypothetical power ever being produced, RECs are only accepted into the program when the actual equivalent renewable power will be produced.
The Energy Star is awarded to only certain bulbs that meet strict efficiency, quality, and lifetime criteria. Energy Star qualified fluorescent lighting uses 75% less energy and lasts up to ten times longer than normal incandescent lights.
Energy Star Qualified Light Emitting Diode (LED) Lighting:
- Reduces energy costs - uses at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting, saving on operating expenses.
- Reduces maintenance costs - lasts 35 to 50 times longer than incandescent lighting and about 2 to 5 times longer than fluorescent lighting. No bulb-replacements, no ladders, no ongoing disposal program.
- Reduces cooling costs - LEDs produce very little heat.
- Is guaranteed - comes with a minimum three-year warranty - far beyond the industry standard. Offers convenient features - available with dimming on some indoor models and automatic daylight shut-off and motion sensors on some outdoor models.
- Is durable - won't break like a bulb.
To qualify for Energy Star certification, LED lighting products must pass a variety of tests to prove that the products will display the following characteristics:
- Brightness is equal to or greater than existing lighting technologies (incandescent or fluorescent) and light is well distributed over the area lighted by the fixture.
- Light output remains constant over time, only decreasing towards the end of the rated lifetime (at least 35,000 hours or 12 years based on use of 8 hours per day).
- Excellent color quality. The shade of white light appears clear and consistent over time.
- Efficiency is as good as or better than fluorescent lighting.
- Light comes on instantly when turned on.
- No flicker when dimmed.
- No off-state power draw. The fixture does not use power when it is turned off, with the exception of external controls, whose power should not exceed 0.5 watts in the off state.