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What is Energy Star?

Energy Star is a program initiated in 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to identify and encourage the use of energy-efficient products. Labeling products with the Energy Star symbol allows consumers to save money while protecting the environment.

Products eligible for the Energy Star label include the following:

  • building products
  • computers and electronics
  • heating and cooling systems
  • lighting and fans
  • water heaters
  • appliances

In order for a product to receive the Energy Star designation, it must meet high energy-efficiency standards.

Four products that commonly receive Energy Star certification include:

Washing machines

In order to qualify for the Energy Star label, a washing machine must have a load capacity of more than 1.6 cubic feet. Other considerations include low amounts of electrical energy and hot water consumption. On average, Energy Star washing machines use less than half the water of other washing machines and 37 percent less energy.


Energy Star-qualified dishwashers use almost one-third less energy than other dishwashers. Over the course of their lifetime, they will use 1,300 fewer gallons of water. Consumers operating pre-1994 dishwashers pay $40 more per year than those who use Energy Star-rated models. The fact that Energy Star-labeled dishwashers use less energy means a reduction in air pollution and a smaller contribution of greenhouse gases. These energy-efficient dishwashers also play a role in protecting streams and lakes by using less water.


Refrigerators typically account for 15 percent of a homeowner's electric bill. Energy Star models use 40 percent less electricity than conventional units sold 10 years ago. Investing in a new Energy Star-qualified refrigerator could save the consumer $50 a year. Energy Star-certified refrigerators must use 20 percent less energy than new conventional refrigerators to qualify for the label.


Energy Star-rated gas and oil furnaces are up to 15 percent more efficient than conventional furnaces, and they contain more efficient blower motors. Upgrading from an older furnace offers substantial savings. Though the Energy Star models may initially cost more than standard furnaces, lower energy bills will make up the difference over time.

A licensed electrician can provide additional information on Energy Star products and assist with installation. Sign in to Angie’s List to view trusted consumer reviews on highly rated electricians in your area. For example, Angie's List has more than 4,500 Chicago-area electricians listed, and more than 750 are highly rated by members. 

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Should you buy an Energy Star-qualified washing machine?

Consumers in search of an energy-efficient washing machine routinely turn to the Energy Star label. Before you make a selection, compare the value that qualified appliances offer compared to standard units.

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