News Analysis

Energy Star Beefs Up Requirements and Enforcement

After an embarrassing report pointed out flaws in the system, Energy Star is revamping its standards, certification processes, and image.

In March 2010, GAO released a report about its experiences submitting 20 made-up products to Energy Star for certification, highlighting weaknesses in the program, which relies primarily on self-policing by manufacturers to maintain the label’s integrity. These products ranged from the truly ridiculous—a gas-powered alarm clock—to those that seemed believable but included fake data that showed performance better than anything currently on the market. According to the report, “GAO found that for our bogus products, certification controls were ineffective primarily because Energy Star does not verify energy-savings data reported by manufacturers.” The program did require confirmation of test results for two products, which were then rejected.

The agencies that oversee the Energy Star program—the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—responded quickly to the findings, changing the program’s policies and the way it approves products. By April 10, 2010, the agencies had stopped approvals of new products through Energy Star’s self-certification and automated-qualification programs (which did not require staff member reviews). The Energy Star program now requires staff review of all products, as well as testing results backed up by reports from independent laboratories.

Published June 1, 2010

Wendt, A. (2010, June 1). Energy Star Beefs Up Requirements and Enforcement. Retrieved from