This month, reports surfaced that critical energy savings programs like ENERGY STAR could be defunded as part of the Trump Administration’s FY’18 budget. Last week, the President’s Budget Blueprint confirmed the rumors to be true. According to E&E news, a draft of the proposed budget cuts contained language stating “EPA should begin developing legislative options and associated groundwork for transferring ownership and implementation of ENERGY STAR to a non-governmental entity.” Today, millions of consumers and businesses choose ENERGY STAR—demonstrating that the program has earned credibility in the marketplace. When the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency developed the program, the agencies stated that “credibility is the backbone of a successful brand.” While the program could be transferred and run independently, critics of the White House’s move say the ENERGY STAR program would likely lose some of its cache.
Energy efficiency is widely recognized for its benefits, in particular to consumers and the environment, with programs like ENERGY STAR leading the way. Introduced by the EPA in 1992, ENERGY STAR functioned as a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Computers and monitors were the first labeled products. Through 1995, EPA expanded the label to additional office equipment products and residential heating and cooling equipment. In 1996, EPA partnered with the US Department of Energy for particular product categories. The ENERGY STAR label is now on major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, new homes and commercial and industrial buildings and plants.
This year, the EPA designated Nest’s learning thermostat an ENERGY STAR product, making it the first thermostat to receive the acknowledgment since regulators stripped it from all programmable thermostats years ago. For now, the program continues to run and with an annual budget traditionally around $50 million, the returns over the life of the program have been significant. So far the program has saved consumers an estimated $430 billion on utility bills while avoiding 2.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.