What Does the “Energy Star” Label Mean For AC? 

June 27, 2012

Energy Star is not a brand name for air conditioners. It is a program that has been developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, and designed to promote the idea of selling and buying products that are energy-efficient. Ideally, when the consumer sees the Energy Star label on a product, it is a signal that you can expect to be able to save energy with the product, and of course, that is going to translate to greater savings in your budget.

And make no mistake about it – the government unquestionably wants you to see the Energy Star designation, because increased sales for those products is going to mean a lot of energy savings in the long run. This program has indeed been in place for 20 years, and that is a testament to the effectiveness of the message. Let’s face it – the smart people are always looking for some kind of an edge that can help them in their quest to spend less money.

What does a product have to do to qualify for Energy Star?

Well, let’s talk about air conditioners for purposes of this discussion. There is a qualification process, and there are minimum efficiency figures that have to be met. Air conditioners have to have a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating of 14.5 or above, an EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) of at least 12, and 8.2 or greater in the HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor). All of these measurements are emblematic of energy efficiency. These high efficiency levels certainly contribute to lowering your bill, as does the construction of the home. Of course, the best way to conserve energy may be to plan using less of it.

The intention behind establishing an Energy Star label isn’t just to help people in the U.S. save money by burning up less energy, but also to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. This would seem to be a reasonable thing. Through the Energy Star program, the government wants consumers to be educated about comparative products. In other words, what they want you to know that there could be some competing products out on the market that are less expensive, but do not meet the standards for SEER, EER or HSPF, but that when you calculate the savings you will accrue over the long run, it is worth the little extra money you may have paid for greater efficiency.