Ronald Reagan was fond of saying that the most terrifying words in the English language were “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.” Stories abound of well-intentioned programs from Washington that have gone awry, costing millions and complicating someone’s life. But, of the list of programs that have long proven their worth, few have offered more benefits for minimal cost than has Energy Star. The fact that I don’t even have to explain what Energy Star is is testimony to the fact that it is one of the most widely recognized federal programs around. It has recognition power that most brands would envy. Fully 85 percent of consumers who are in the market for an energy-consuming appliance recognize the Energy Star label. No other program has been more important in getting consumers to look beyond just first cost and consider the energy efficiency of refrigerators, TVs, computers, and, yes, HVAC equipment.
We know it is hard to get homeowners to agree to upgrade beyond the minimum efficiency model. Energy Star is trusted by the public to stand for high efficiency. That’s why more than 5.2 billion pieces of Energy Star equipment have been purchased.
Recently, the Trump administration announced plans to defund Energy Star. The administration claims it is not a priority for taxpayer dollars and actually lumps it into the category of ‘lower priority and poorly performing programs.’ But, 25 years of Energy Star experience tells a much different tale.
Here are the facts: Energy Star equipment saved consumers $34 billion in energy bills in 2015 alone. This brings the total national savings to $430 billion (with a ‘b’) since the program’s inception. This savings comes from a program that costs a relatively paltry $50 million (with an ‘m’) a year to administer. Energy Star doesn’t just help appliance buyers. Think of the power plants that didn’t have to be built and the CO2 that wasn’t emitted. Those savings have benefited all of us, in our wallets as well as our health.
Contractors have long been faced with the challenge of convincing consumers that it is in their interest to invest a little more in energy efficient equipment. Energy Star has been one of their greatest tools for doing so.
We need to spend tax moneys prudently. And, yes, America voted for change; however, eliminating Energy Star as a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program will be counter-productive, hurt consumers, and will end one of our industry’s best marketing assets. Eliminating it will hurt our businesses. Energy Star is not a regulation; it is a voluntary program that can help manufacturers and contractors, but they are not required to participate.
The die has not been cast. While the President has let his funding priorities be known, Congress has yet to act. With no action on our part, this important program will be history. With a concerted effort, we can change that. Take the time to call or email your federal representatives and insist on funding Energy Star. This is how democracy works, and you have the facts on your side.
Publication date: 3/29/2017