Mary Sprayregen, Deputy Director of Policy and Public Affairs -
If the rumors about the proposed federal budget are true, the lights are about to go out on ENERGY STAR®.
This high-value government program that has been responsible for Americans’ using less energy in their homes and businesses for lighting, appliances, and equipment is threatened with extinction. The new presidential administration’s pursuit of a budget enabling an enormous expansion of defense spending puts at risk not only the ENERGY STAR program, but all federal support for energy efficiency, which as an industry employs 1.9 million Americans.
It’s not as if ENERGY STAR has been performing at a sub-par level; 85 percent of consumers nationwide recognize the ENERGY STAR label as synonymous with good quality and lower energy use. This is a phenomenal level of brand awareness.
The details of President Donald J. Trump’s budget proposal, set for release on March 16, are reported to contain a provision for eliminating the landmark ENERGY STAR® brand from the federal budget. The reports indicate it will take $5 million to close the program down and transfer it to a private company—with no presumed remit to strengthen energy efficiency standards. The standards for quality and value have been the bedrock of long-term benefits such as cleaner air and water, and lower energy costs for consumers and businesses nationwide.
For 31 years, VEIC has championed and operated efficiency programs, saving consumers money, creating more than $1.3 billion in total economic benefits that accrue to the communities we serve, and enhancing environmental and societal benefits from clean and affordable energy use. VEIC has brought energy savings to hundreds of thousands of customers in the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Midwest, specifying the ENERGY STAR brand on all applications, wherever possible. Our partnership with ENERGY STAR has not only helped advance the energy-saving and quality standards that have given the brand its excellent reputation, it has allowed us to achieve these results.
VEIC’s long and deep experience with ENERGY STAR has involved manufacturers and retailers, too. For decades, these businesses have consistently supported the program. Manufacturers in particular have considered ENERGY STAR a high-value addition to their business models and engagement with distributors and retailers. An estimated 40 percent of energy efficiency jobs in the United States are directly related to the manufacturing and distribution of such efficient products.
Eliminating government support of ENERGY STAR will have deleterious effects on people who have been least able to afford highly efficient lighting and appliances. These are the same people who need energy-savings products the most. To date, vulnerable populations have been able to acquire energy- and money-saving household items because of ENERGY STAR’s Partner programs. VEIC is one of 16,000 ENERGY STAR Partners. In promoting the brand (which has earned the full confidence of our regulators and clients), VEIC has helped give residents and businesses trusted information about investing in energy efficiency, knowing that customers will get the value promised by the many manufacturers that have met the ENERGY STAR quality and energy criteria.
As an ENERGY STAR Partner, we have helped the United States cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 2.7 billion metric tons since ENERGY STAR’s inception in 1992; as of 2015, American consumers had saved $430 billion on their utility bills. VEIC’s work in Vermont, the District of Columbia, and Ohio—not to mention our work on special projects such as the Super-Efficient Dryer Initiative—has contributed to these results.
The need for an independent, objective ENERGY STAR brand remains essential to a sustainable, more affordable and just energy future for all Americans. Getting rid of it, even under a claim that free-market privatization will be an appropriate business step for the brand, will diminish American prominence in smart energy policy. Privatizing the ENERGY STAR brand will likely eliminate any guarantee for third-party neutrality in evaluating and certifying products in the marketplace. This will just as likely lead to a significant decrease in product integrity, which will erode consumer trust in the program.
The ENERGY STAR standard has affordably helped the United States be a far cleaner nation than it was when ENERGY STAR began, 25 years ago. VEIC will remain vigilant and steadfast in its support of this critically important energy efficiency standard.
We encourage our partners, clients, and customers—and the general public—to join us in being a voice for people whose lives will be diminished by the elimination of the ENERGY STAR standard—whether by outright jobs losses, environmental degradation, or higher energy costs.
To weigh in with your congressional delegation, please fill out the Alliance to Save Energy’s form to submit a letter in support of ENERGY STAR.