Trump wants to cut the Energy Star program – and, with it, billions in consumer savings

Jim Marston

Evidently, President Trump and his environmental protection chief Scott Pruitt are just getting warmed up.

Now they’ve set their sights on one of the most successful and noncontroversial energy-related programs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ever managed – Energy Star, a program that saves consumers more than $30 billion a year.

According to E&E News, Trump’s draft budget encourages the EPA to “begin developing legislative options and associated groundwork for transferring ownership and implementation of Energy Star to a non-governmental entity.”

Translation: Energy Star, you’re dead.

85% of Americans know Energy Star

If you’ve shopped for a refrigerator, television, washing machine or computer in the last 25 years, you’ve likely run across a product that’s been certified by Energy Star. The voluntary program reviews the energy efficiency of a variety of electronic product categories, and labels the best performers – usually the top 25 percent – Energy Star Certified.

It’s a clever concept, like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for energy, but with better measurement and verification. By highlighting a product’s energy performance and projected annual energy cost, Energy Star made energy efficiency a feature.

The EPA says the program has an 85 percent brand recognition rate [PDF], a level most ad execs would kill for.

One of the reasons it has worked so well is its credibility and objectivity.

Program’s transparency, credibility stand out

Since Energy Star is government-run, it has the impartiality and transparency that a membership-driven industry organization can’t achieve. A company can’t shove its products through by “donating” to the organization. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find another government initiative with Energy Star’s credibility.

Over the years, being certified grew into a full-blown marketing advantage for companies with efficient products.

Best Buy brags about being Energy Star’s partner of the year for the past three years in a row. Search for a flat-screen TV on Amazon.com or a refrigerator at Sears.com, and Energy Star is one of the “certifications” you can use to filter your search.

Companies benefit while consumers save

Since its creation, Energy Star has saved consumers $430 billion [PDF] – $34 billion in 2015 alone – and prevented 2.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Customers like it. Manufacturers like it. And it works.

Not too shabby, especially for a program that is completely voluntary.

Yet, even being a smashing success isn’t enough for President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

So what happens if they go ahead and kill Energy Star? We’ll see higher electric bills, less competitive manufacturing, wasted energy, more pollution and more sick kids. Is that making America great again?

Comments

I, like many consumers, rely on this rating system to know that I am buying products that will function efficiently and help to keep the environment safe. Please don't cease giving us this important information.

Nancy Butterworth
March 10, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Please don't cut Energy Star. I have used this program for years to help select new appliances.

Pam warriner
March 11, 2017 at 10:16 am

Instead of making America great again, the new policies and policy cuts are only meant to make certain country(?) men and industries more profitable, and I guarantee the EPA would not approve of any of them, until now.

Jacqueline Greene
March 12, 2017 at 5:27 pm

"Since Energy Star is government-run, it has the impartiality and transparency..." Ah yes. Our government sets the standard for impartiality and transparency, doesn't it? Did you actually write that with a straight face?

"...that a membership-driven industry organization can’t achieve." The typical false choice argument. It's either the virtuous government OR the corrupt industry organization. Underwriters Laboratories (the "UL" you see on a lot of electric equipment) seems to have a good reputation. Likewise Consumer Reports and that Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval you touted. Not government entities. Are reputable. I could name others.

I'm not down on the Energy Star program, but the federal government needs to get smaller. We owe $20 trillion. It's going to take a lot of little steps like this one to get that under control.

Richard Patton
March 13, 2017 at 11:26 am

Well said, Jim Marston. My company, Newman Consulting Group, LLC works in the commercial building sector doing energy analyses of buildings, commonly referred to as energy audits. We recommend equipment and system retrofits to conserve energy and save money for the building owners, and are very aware of how much good Energy Star certification does.

To cannibalize the EPA would be a travesty of justice and an extreme disservice to the American people.

Jim Newman
March 13, 2017 at 2:29 pm

A strong independent group could do Energy Star just like the government does now.

Jim Hendrickson
March 14, 2017 at 3:30 am

My perception: Our 45th president continues outlandish propositions that negatively affect Americans as we gather strength to push back. All the while (as of late), his family empire swells as he uses his office for international business favors and opportunities. (See son-in-law/China $400-million profit NYC building deal.)

Marie marshall
March 15, 2017 at 8:38 am

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