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United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO: 

Report to Congressional Requesters: 

September 2011: 

Energy Star: 

Providing Opportunities for Additional Review of EPA's Decisions Could 
Strengthen the Program: 

GAO-11-888: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-11-888, a report to congressional requesters. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

American consumers, businesses, utilities, and federal and state 
agencies rely on the Energy Star product labeling program to identify 
more efficient products that lower their energy costs. Even with the 
program’s successes, several reports by GAO and others have identified 
weaknesses in the Energy Star program. The program, which began in 
1992 and was reauthorized in 2005, has been jointly administered by 
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy 
(DOE). In 2009, the agencies signed a memorandum of understanding 
(MOU) that outlined changes to address these weaknesses. The changes 
included identifying EPA as the lead agency, clarifying the roles and 
responsibilities of each agency, as well as instituting third-party 
testing of products. 

GAO was asked to examine (1) the status of EPA’s and DOE’s 
implementation of changes to the Energy Star program under the MOU and 
(2) program partners’ views of the Energy Star program and changes 
that are under way. To examine the status of the changes, GAO reviewed 
guidance and eligibility criteria and interviewed various program 
partners to gather their views. The results of these interviews are 
not generalizable, but provided insights on changes to the Energy Star 
program. 

What GAO Found: 

EPA and DOE have made considerable progress in their ongoing efforts 
to implement significant changes to the Energy Star program agreed to 
in the 2009 MOU. These changes include expanding product qualification 
and verification testing, updating program requirements, and piloting 
a program to promote the most efficient Energy Star products. In 2010, 
EPA developed and instituted new third-party certification procedures 
to qualify products for the Energy Star label. The new procedures took 
effect on January 1, 2011. As of May 2011, EPA had received about 
10,000 new product submissions. In addition, EPA and DOE expanded 
their testing programs to verify that labeled products continue to 
meet program requirements. As part of these efforts, EPA is finalizing 
standard procedures for disqualifying products that fail the 
verification testing. EPA has also taken steps to update program 
requirements by broadening the number of product categories covered by 
the program and updating performance specifications for products that 
are already part of the program. Since 2009, EPA and DOE have 
finalized specifications for two new residential product categories 
and EPA is working on five additional product categories. EPA has a 
schedule to review and update the specifications for all existing 
product categories by 2013. In May 2011, EPA established a pilot 
program to recognize the most efficient products among those that 
qualify for the Energy Star label in seven product categories. As of 
August 2011, 78 models in five categories had received recognition as 
the most efficient products. The pilot program will run into 2012, 
when EPA will evaluate whether it should continue beyond 2012. 

Program partners we interviewed-—including manufacturers, retailers, 
and utilities—-generally had positive views of the Energy Star program 
but raised key concerns about the program’s ongoing changes. Program 
partners cited the overall strength of the Energy Star brand itself 
and its wide recognition by American consumers and said that the loss 
of the program would be detrimental to their business. Further, these 
program partners told us they generally supported MOU steps taken to 
clarify agencies’ roles and establish a single agency as the brand 
manager. However, program partners also raised three key concerns. 

First, program partners expressed concern that the ongoing changes are 
shifting the voluntary nature of the program to include elements of a 
more traditional regulatory program, but without the procedural 
safeguards of such programs. Specifically, many program partners told 
us that the Energy Star label is necessary to sell in many markets. 
Unlike traditional regulatory programs, however, Energy Star does not 
have an independent administrative review process where adverse agency 
decisions related to setting specifications and disqualifications can 
be reviewed prior to seeking judicial review. Program partners also 
identified a lack of transparency in EPA’s key decisions, including 
how it sets performance specification levels. Second, many program 
partners told us the pilot program to identify the most efficient 
products may undermine the value of the Energy Star label and the 
program as a whole by creating two classes of Energy Star products. 
Third, some program partners raised concerns about the rising cost of 
participating in the program because of third-party certification 
testing, and some manufacturing partners said they are considering 
decreasing their participation because of the cost. 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO recommends the Administrator of EPA assess the need to develop a 
process for independent review of adverse decisions related to setting 
specifications and disqualifications. EPA neither agreed nor disagreed 
with this recommendation. 

View [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-888] or key 
components. For more information, contact Franklin W. Rusco at (202) 
512-3841 or ruscof@gao.gov. 
[End of section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Background: 

EPA and DOE Have Made Progress in Their Ongoing Efforts to Implement 
Significant Changes to the Energy Star Program: 

Program Partners Generally Had Favorable Views of the Energy Star 
Program but Identified Several Areas of Concern: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendation for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

Appendix II: Program Partners' Interview Responses: 

Appendix III: Comments from the Environmental Protection Agency: 

Appendix IV: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Table: 

Table 1: Energy Star Program Budgets, Fiscal Years 2007 to 2011: 

Figures: 

Figure 1: Energy Star Label: 

Figure 2: EPA's Energy Star Most Efficient Marketing Template: 

Abbreviations: 

Btu: British thermal unit: 

DOE: Department of Energy: 

EPA: Environmental Protection Agency: 

EPCA: Energy Policy and Conservation Act: 

FTC: Federal Trade Commission: 

LED: light-emitting diode: 

MOU: memorandum of understanding: 

OIG: office of inspector general: 

[End of section] 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

September 30, 2011: 

Congressional Requesters: 

American consumers, businesses, states, and federal agencies have come 
to rely on the Energy Star program to identify more energy-efficient 
products that lower their energy costs. Energy Star is a voluntary 
program that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began in 1992 
to encourage the purchase of energy-efficient computers and monitors 
as part of the agency's broader efforts to reduce greenhouse gas 
emissions. Since 1996, EPA has shared management responsibilities for 
the Energy Star program with the Department of Energy (DOE). According 
to EPA documents, the Energy Star program is designed to identify, 
through the use of the distinctive blue Energy Star label, appliances 
and other products that deliver the same or better performance as 
comparable models while using less energy. The Energy Star program 
partners with manufacturers, retailers, states, utilities, regional 
energy efficiency groups, home builders, and others who help promote 
the program and receive, among other benefits, use of the widely 
recognized Energy Star label on qualified products and other marketing 
materials. The Energy Star program now covers over 60 product 
categories, and its label appears on thousands of major appliances, 
office equipment, lighting, home electronics, new homes, and 
commercial and industrial buildings. EPA reported that for 2010, the 
Energy Star program saved consumers about $18 billion in energy costs 
and prevented 170 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Despite its successes, numerous recent investigations and reports-- 
including reports by us, EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG), and 
DOE's Office of Inspector General--have identified weaknesses in the 
Energy Star program. For example, in 2007, we reported that EPA and 
DOE qualified household products based on factors other than the 
estimated total energy consumption.[Footnote 1] Similarly, reports by 
EPA's Office of Inspector General in 2007 and 2008 identified 
weaknesses in the program, including a lack of management controls to 
ensure that products met qualification criteria, uncertainty regarding 
the criteria used to determine when product specifications needed to 
be updated, and allegations that the program's reported savings claims 
were inaccurate and unreliable.[Footnote 2] 

In September 2009, DOE and EPA signed a memorandum of understanding 
(MOU) agreeing, among other things, to coordinate efforts to expand 
and enhance the Energy Star program in an effort to address many of 
the weaknesses previously identified.[Footnote 3] The MOU clarified 
the roles and responsibilities for each agency, establishing EPA as 
the primary agency for the Energy Star brand and DOE as the lead on 
test procedure development and evaluation. The MOU outlined a number 
of other changes to the program, including steps to ensure that Energy 
Star performance criteria consistently recognized top-performing 
products and required products to be tested by an accredited 
laboratory. EPA and DOE were finalizing plans to implement the program 
changes outlined in the MOU when in March 2010 we released a widely 
publicized report that identified serious vulnerabilities in Energy 
Star's process for self-certifying products qualified to carry the 
Energy Star label.[Footnote 4] In addition, in October 2010, EPA's 
Office of Inspector General issued a summary report that concluded 
EPA's implementation of the Energy Star program had become 
inconsistent with the program's authorized purpose because of 
previously identified weaknesses.[Footnote 5] 

Given the recent controversies surrounding the Energy Star program, 
you asked us to examine changes to the program that are currently 
under way as a result of the MOU between EPA and DOE. Specifically, we 
examined (1) the status of EPA's and DOE's implementation of changes 
to the Energy Star program under the MOU and (2) Energy Star program 
partners' views of the program and recently implemented changes. 

To examine the status of EPA's and DOE's implementation of changes to 
the Energy Star program, we reviewed relevant legislation, agency 
guidance, eligibility criteria, and other program documentation and 
interviewed agency officials. To gather program partners' views about 
the program and recent changes, we conducted interviews with a range 
of program partners, including representatives from trade 
associations, retailers, states, utilities, and other interested 
parties involved with the Energy Star program. Several product 
retailers were selected from EPA's list of program partners. We 
selected states and utility companies with energy efficiency programs 
that were geographically dispersed. We also conducted structured 
interviews of a nongeneralizable random sample of 23 manufacturers 
that were listed as Energy Star partners to gain an understanding of 
their views of the program. However, because the sample is 
nongeneralizable, these views may not be reflective of the views of 
all program partners. We conducted this performance audit from August 
2010 to September 2011 in accordance with generally accepted 
government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan 
and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to 
provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on 
our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a 
reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit 
objectives. 

Background: 

The Energy Star program is one of several federal government programs 
that focus on reducing the nation's energy consumption. The Energy 
Star program also includes the goal of reducing greenhouse gas 
emissions and energy consumption by transforming the market for energy-
consuming products through voluntary partnerships with public and 
private organizations. The program is divided into three sectors: 
commercial; industry; and residential, which includes product 
labeling.[Footnote 6] Specifically, the program describes its product-
labeling effort as a means for consumers to easily identify and 
purchase energy-efficient appliances that offer savings on energy 
bills without decreasing performance. 

The Energy Star program has grown and evolved since it began. EPA 
started Energy Star in response to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 
1990[Footnote 7] and the Energy Policy Act of 1992[Footnote 8] in an 
effort to explore nonregulatory strategies for preventing or reducing 
pollution. In 1992, the program started labeling energy-efficient 
products in the marketplace. DOE partnered with EPA in 1996 to jointly 
manage the program. At that time, the two agencies signed a memorandum 
of cooperation describing each agency's responsibilities related to 
use and oversight of the Energy Star label.[Footnote 9] DOE also 
assumed responsibility for developing product performance criteria for 
specific product categories, including refrigerators, dishwashers, and 
room air conditioners. In the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress 
formally authorized the Energy Star program to identify and promote 
energy-efficient products and buildings.[Footnote 10] The act further 
specified three goals for the program: reducing energy consumption, 
improving energy security, and reducing pollution. 

The Energy Star program has thousands of program partners, including 
manufacturers, retailers, utilities, government entities, energy 
efficiency organizations, finance partners, and home builders. To 
become a program partner, the business or organization voluntarily 
signs a partnership agreement with EPA. The agreement includes a 
commitment to use the partnership and Energy Star label as a means of 
promoting energy efficiency. Manufacturer partners must also identify 
the product category or categories in which their company seeks to 
qualify products--such as appliances or office equipment. Program 
partners can use the Energy Star label and other marketing material as 
part of their energy efficiency and environmental activities (see fig. 
1).[Footnote 11] 

Figure 1: Energy Star Label: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustration of logo] 

Source: Energy Star 

[End of figure] 

Benefits of the Program: 

According to EPA documents, the Energy Star program contributes to 
EPA's national energy and greenhouse gas reductions goals. EPA 
estimated that, in 2010, the Energy Star program collectively 
prevented 170 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions--roughly 
the equivalent of the annual emissions of 33 million vehicles--and 
saved consumers about $18 billion in energy costs. 

Energy Star products are also eligible for various tax credit and 
rebate programs. For example, in July 2009, DOE provided almost $300 
million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 
(Recovery Act) to states and territories to promote energy reduction 
and stimulate the economy by encouraging consumers to replace older 
appliances with Energy Star-qualified products.[Footnote 12] Each 
state and territory developed its own rebate program for various 
Energy Star-qualified products. The funds are expected to be expended 
by February 2012, with 56 states and territories participating in the 
rebate program. According to DOE documentation, as of May 2011, the 
program results include a total of 1.6 million consumer rebates 
totaling about $239 million; of these rebates, 88 percent were for 
purchase of major household appliances; 10 percent for heating, 
ventilation, and air conditioning products; and 2 percent for water 
heaters. By providing rebates, this effort leveraged federal funds 
with about $1.8 billion in consumer spending and is projected to 
result in an estimated annual energy savings of 1.5 trillion British 
thermal units (Btu), which is roughly equivalent to the greenhouse gas 
emissions from the electricity use of 38,000 homes in 1 year.[Footnote 
13] 

Identified Weaknesses of the Program: 

Even with successes, prior reports by us, EPA's Office of Inspector 
General, and others have identified several problems with the Energy 
Star program and its management. In 2007, we reported on weaknesses in 
the Energy Star's labeling certification program.[Footnote 14] Among 
other things, we found that the program was qualifying products to 
carry the Energy Star label based on factors other than total energy 
consumption. For example, some products were qualified based on their 
energy consumption while in standby mode rather than when they were 
fully operational. EPA's Office of Inspector General identified other 
weaknesses in a report in 2007, including problems with EPA's 
documentation of the criteria it used to determine when to update 
product performance specifications, and little oversight of the use of 
the Energy Star label in retail stores.[Footnote 15] In addition, 
EPA's Office of Inspector General also found in 2010 that EPA's 
implementation of the Energy Star program was inconsistent with the 
program's authorized purpose.[Footnote 16] For example, it found the 
program sought to maximize the number of qualified products at the 
expense of identifying products and practices focused on maximizing 
energy efficiency. Also, in 2010 we reported on serious 
vulnerabilities with the Energy Star's process for qualifying 
products, which was generally based on self-certification of products 
by manufacturers. 

MOU: 

In September 2009, EPA and DOE signed an MOU to address the 
vulnerabilities we and EPA's Office of Inspector General 
identified.[Footnote 17] The MOU's purpose is to enhance and expand 
federal programs that advance energy efficiency--including Energy Star-
-to address climate change, economic, and energy security issues. In 
addition, the MOU outlines common goals and objectives, including 
expanding and enhancing federal energy efficiency programs, building 
on each agency's role in advancing energy efficiency, and realigning 
program roles and responsibilities to most effectively implement their 
programs. 

The MOU also outlines four changes specific to the Energy Star 
program.[Footnote 18] First, it restructures the management of the 
program, making EPA the lead agency and giving it responsibility for 
establishing performance levels for all Energy Star products. Under 
the MOU, DOE's primary role in the products component is leading the 
development of product-testing procedures. In addition, the MOU 
established a governing council consisting of officials from both 
agencies to oversee their collaboration and provide oversight for the 
program. 

Second, the MOU increases the amount of testing required to verify the 
performance of Energy Star-qualified products. Before the MOU, the 
program generally relied on a self-certification process for 
manufacturers to qualify products for the Energy Star label. Under the 
MOU, all products are now required to be tested in an accredited 
laboratory, and the results submitted to EPA before the products can 
be qualified for the Energy Star label. In addition, the MOU calls for 
increasing the amount of market-based testing used to verify that 
Energy Star-qualified products continue to meet program requirements. 
For this testing, selected products are taken off the shelf at retail 
locations and tested to determine whether they meet the Energy Star 
standards. The MOU also calls for the market-based testing to consist 
of a combination of EPA and DOE testing and manufacturer-funded 
testing administered by EPA or DOE, or testing by other third parties. 
[Footnote 19] 

Third, according to the MOU, the Energy Star program will aim to 
expand the number of qualified products while updating product 
performance specifications more frequently and stringently. 
Specifically, the MOU outlines an objective of broadening the 
program's coverage of energy-efficient products, especially those in 
product categories that are in widespread use and consume significant 
amounts of energy. Under the MOU, the program set a goal of doubling 
the number of new product categories (from the current level) added to 
the program annually, depending on the availability of 
resources.[Footnote 20] The MOU also calls for the program to 
implement more stringent product performance specifications to ensure 
that the Energy Star label continues to represent top-performing 
products. The MOU outlines criteria for determining when product 
performance specifications should be updated: either when a certain 
amount of time has elapsed or when Energy Star-labeled products 
achieve a certain market share. For example, for products considered 
to be "rapidly evolving"--such as office equipment--the specifications 
will be updated about every 2 years. For products considered to be 
"longer-lived"--such as home appliances--specifications will be 
reviewed for possible revisions at least once every 3 years or when 
the market share of qualified products reaches about 35 percent--that 
is, according to EPA officials, when 35 percent of the shipments of a 
particular product qualify for Energy Star. The MOU also requires 
manufacturing partners to annually submit shipment data for their 
Energy Star products to EPA to assist in EPA's tracking of market 
penetration and overall evaluation of the program. 

Fourth, the MOU proposed a new program to promote the "top-tier" of 
energy-efficient products in Energy Star product categories. 
Specifically, the MOU states the program would highlight about the top 
5 percent of the products within a product category. The program would 
also promote advanced technologies associated with these most energy- 
efficient products in order to drive market acceptance of the 
products. The MOU states the new program would remain as part of the 
overall Energy Star program. In addition, the MOU stipulated that a 
marketing and brand analysis would be conducted to provide options on 
how to identify and label the program. As with the overall Energy Star 
program, the MOU designated EPA as the lead agency for the new 
program, with DOE providing technical support. 

Budget: 

Over the past 5 years, EPA and DOE have spent about $288 million on 
the Energy Star program. Despite changes to the program during this 
time, including implementation of the MOU, the program budgets have 
remained relatively stable over this time (see table 1). 

Table 1: Energy Star Program Budgets, Fiscal Years 2007 to 2011: 

EPA: 
2007: $45.9 million; 
2008: $48.2 million; 
2009: $49.7 million; 
2010: $53.6 million; 
2011: $53.3 million; 
Total: $250.7 million. 

DOE: 
2007: $8.8 million; 
2008: $6.7 million; 
2009: $7.5 million; 
2010: $7.0 million; 
2011: $7.0 million; 
Total: $37.0 million. 

Total: 
2007: $54.7 million; 
2008: $54.9 million; 
2009: $57.2 million; 
2010: $60.6 million; 
2011: $60.3 million; 
Total: $287.7 million. 

Source: Budget authority enacted, EPA and DOE budget documents. 

[End of table] 

Additional Federal and Nonfederal Energy Reduction Efforts: 

Federal agencies also manage additional efforts that have a 
significant focus on energy reduction and complement the Energy Star 
program. These include DOE's federal minimum efficiency standards and 
the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) EnergyGuide labeling program. 
Congress first mandated that DOE develop minimum federal standards for 
energy efficiency for select appliances under the Energy Policy and 
Conservation Act (EPCA) of 1975.[Footnote 21] Currently, appliances 
subject to the standards include refrigerators, freezers, room air 
conditioners, clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers, kitchen ranges 
and ovens, pool heaters, water heaters, fluorescent lamp ballasts, and 
incandescent reflector lamps.[Footnote 22] EPCA also prescribed energy 
labeling requirements that became the EnergyGuide, which is 
administered by FTC with assistance from DOE.[Footnote 23] The program 
requires product manufacturers to label and prominently display energy 
consumption information and annual energy costs for select household 
products, on the yellow EnergyGuide label. 

In addition to these federal efforts, other nongovernmental efforts 
focus on energy efficiency. For example, the Consortium for Energy 
Efficiency develops performance specifications for use by its North 
American members, for certain products[Footnote 24]. The 
specifications are developed by the consortium's membership for 
voluntary adoption by the individual program administrators and their 
programs. Furthermore, a retailer--the Home Depot--has a labeling 
brand--Eco Options--for environmentally friendly products and models 
the retailer stocks; however, energy efficiency is just one focus of 
the program. 

EPA and DOE Have Made Progress in Their Ongoing Efforts to Implement 
Significant Changes to the Energy Star Program: 

Since agreeing to the MOU in 2009, EPA and DOE have made considerable 
progress in their ongoing efforts to implement significant changes to 
the Energy Star program, including expanding product testing, updating 
program requirements, and establishing a pilot program to promote the 
most efficient Energy Star products. 

EPA Has Significantly Expanded Product Testing: 

EPA and DOE have taken steps to significantly expand product testing 
to qualify products for the Energy Star label and verify that marketed 
products continue to meet program requirements. As part of this 
expansion of testing, and in recognition that the new emphasis on 
testing represented a significant change to the terms and conditions 
for participating in the Energy Star program, EPA revised the 
manufacturer partnership agreement in 2010 to incorporate the expanded 
testing requirements. EPA required partners to demonstrate their 
understanding and acceptance of these new requirements by recommitting 
to the program by November 30, 2010. Agency officials told us they did 
not track how many manufacturers elected not to renew their 
partnerships as a result of the program changes. 

In 2010, EPA developed and instituted new testing procedures for 
products to qualify for Energy Star recognition, as called for in the 
MOU. Under these procedures, before a new product can be qualified to 
carry the Energy Star label, it must be certified as meeting program 
requirements by an EPA-recognized third-party certification body based 
on the results of tests conducted by an EPA-recognized test 
laboratory.[Footnote 25] Each recognized certification body and test 
laboratory must be accredited by an EPA-recognized accreditation body. 
The new procedures took effect on January 1, 2011.[Footnote 26] 

In developing the conditions and criteria for recognizing the 
accreditation bodies, certification bodies, and test laboratories, EPA 
leveraged existing international standards and consulted with testing 
experts, Energy Star partners, and other stakeholders.[Footnote 27] As 
described by EPA documents, the criteria are intended to provide EPA 
with information to evaluate whether an organization has the technical 
competence and quality management processes in place to provide 
impartial test results. EPA issued the final recognition criteria in 
the summer of 2010 and began accepting applications. As of August 
2011, there were over 350 EPA-recognized testing and certification 
organizations spanning 35 Energy Star product categories.[Footnote 28] 
EPA officials told us that the program continues to accept 
applications on an ongoing basis and said that they believe the number 
of recognized test labs and certification bodies should provide 
manufacturers with options in obtaining the services they need to get 
their products tested and approved to carry the Energy Star label. 
According to EPA data, as of May 2011, the program has received 
certified performance information for about 10,000 new products since 
the requirements took effect. 

EPA and DOE are also continuing with efforts to expand their 
postqualification testing programs to verify that Energy Star-labeled 
products available to consumers in the market meet performance 
requirements. Historically, EPA conducted limited verification testing 
of Energy Star-qualified products and targeted its testing on products 
in high-volume categories, such as televisions and computers. 
According to agency records, EPA did not test Energy Star products 
from 1992 through 2001, but initiated limited testing beginning in 
2002. For example, agency data show that EPA tested 244 product models 
in 14 categories between 2002 and 2009 out of the thousands of models 
and over 60 product categories that are included in the program. EPA's 
expanded verification testing program will be manufacturer-funded and 
implemented through its recognized certification bodies, and the 
program will begin testing by the fall of 2011. According to EPA 
guidelines, under the expanded testing verification program, the 
certification bodies will be required to annually test a percentage of 
the models they have certified in each product category. At least half 
of the models to be tested will be randomly selected, with the 
remainder selected based on consideration of other factors, including 
prior testing failures, high sales volumes, referrals from EPA or 
other third parties such as consumer groups, or requests from a 
manufacturer to verify the performance of a competitor's product. EPA 
officials told us they have finalized additional guidance, provided 
training, and will be working closely with the certification bodies as 
they begin selecting products for testing later this year. 

DOE describes its Energy Star verification testing program as being 
complementary and parallel to EPA's verification testing program. The 
DOE program will target the subset of Energy Star-labeled products 
that are also part of DOE's federal minimum efficiency standards 
program.[Footnote 29] The verification testing program is a 
continuation of DOE's 2010 pilot program that focused on verifying the 
energy efficiency and water use of Energy Star products that were 
eligible for state residential appliance rebate programs supported 
with funding from the 2009 Recovery Act. Unlike the verification 
testing program administered by EPA-recognized certification bodies, 
DOE's verification testing program is agency-funded. According to DOE 
officials, the proposed plan does not specify a percentage or goal for 
the number of products to be annually tested as part of its program. 
Additionally, the proposed plan does not indicate that DOE will be 
selecting products randomly for testing, but instead proposes to 
target products based on a variety of factors, including a history of 
failing to meet Energy Star program requirements, new technologies, 
and categories with known performance issues. DOE is in the process of 
responding to comments about its proposed plan, and officials told us 
they anticipate finalizing the verification testing program in late 
summer of 2011. EPA and DOE officials told us that they were aware of 
concerns about having two verification testing programs and that they 
are working closely to coordinate their efforts and minimize the 
potential for duplication between their respective testing programs. 
These officials also told us that some overlap in testing may be 
beneficial and could provide an opportunity to monitor how 
consistently the testing organizations interpret and apply the various 
Energy Star test procedures. 

EPA and DOE's verification testing programs will follow the same 
approach to verify performance based on how the product initially 
qualified for the Energy Star label. Products can qualify for the 
Energy Star label in one of two ways. For products not covered by 
DOE's federal minimum efficiency standards, such as computers, Energy 
Star specifications generally require that product qualification be 
based on results from a single test. For those products covered by 
DOE's minimum efficiency standards, or where allowed by the applicable 
Energy Star specification, a product is qualified for the program 
based on results from multiple test samples. For an Energy Star 
product that a manufacturer qualified based on a single representative 
model, verification testing will similarly be based on the performance 
of a single unit.[Footnote 30] In this approach, the selected unit 
must at least meet the applicable Energy Star specification, with no 
tolerance for any variation below this level. For a product qualified 
using multiple test samples, four units will be selected for testing. 
A spot check test will initially be used to evaluate the performance 
of a single unit. If the results of this test show the unit failed to 
meet the requirement by less than 5 percent of the Energy Star 
criteria, then no additional testing will be conducted on the other 
units. If the test finds that the unit performed more than 5 percent 
below the applicable specification, then each of the remaining units 
will be tested and statistical methods applied to determine whether 
the product fails to meet the performance specifications. Under both 
verification testing programs, tested models are to be obtained from 
the shelves of retail locations or warehouses whenever possible. In 
instances where pulling a product from a retail shelf or warehouse is 
not feasible, certification bodies may make arrangements to conduct 
supervised verification tests at the manufacturing facility. This 
would include instances where the selected product is prohibitively 
expensive to purchase or transport, made to order, or otherwise 
unavailable through customary retail outlets. Ultimately, the 
certification bodies are responsible for selecting and procuring 
models for testing, and are not permitted to let the manufacturer 
choose the test sample. 

EPA has taken initial steps to establish standard procedures for 
disqualifying products from the Energy Star program based on the 
results of verification testing programs. Under existing statutory 
authority for the Energy Star program, EPA does not have statutory 
enforcement authority to ensure compliance with program requirements. 
Instead, EPA generally relies on federal trademark law protections and 
the terms and conditions of its partnership licensing agreements to 
ensure proper use of the Energy Star label and adherence to program 
requirements. Among the terms and conditions of the manufacturing 
partnership agreement, the partner agrees to meet Energy Star 
eligibility criteria and applicable performance specifications as well 
as follow program guidelines for proper use of the Energy Star marks. 
The agreement also provides that EPA, DOE, and the program partners 
will work in "good faith" to informally resolve conflicts to the 
extent possible.[Footnote 31] An agency official explained that while 
the program had not publicly issued standard disqualification 
procedures, the program in the past had included procedures as part of 
the specifications for certain product categories that served to 
broadly communicate the process to other manufacturing partners. 
However, given the expanded product verification testing implemented 
as part of the changes agreed to in the MOU, EPA and DOE recognized 
the need for a standard protocol that would increase the transparency 
involved in Energy Star disqualification decisions, including the 
triggers for taking action and communicating about disputed issues. 
EPA is working to finalize these procedures, which officials expect to 
issue by the end of the year. 

In the meantime, EPA has issued guidance to the certification bodies 
that outlined the process for notifying EPA about testing failures and 
opportunities for manufacturers to submit additional information for 
the agency to consider as part of its determination of whether it 
should pursue any disqualification action. In a May 2011 directive to 
the EPA-recognized certification bodies, EPA is requiring 
certification bodies to report test failures to the agency within 2 
days of determining a product has failed the Energy Star testing. EPA 
stated that it will then notify the manufacturer and give it 20 days 
to respond in writing with any additional information. The directive 
indicates that EPA will review relevant information to determine 
whether additional evaluation is necessary, but the directive does not 
set a time period within which EPA will make a final decision. 
Instead, the directive states that EPA will provide additional time to 
resolve potential issues as appropriate. 

For DOE-tested products, the process is similar, except that DOE will 
make the initial determination of whether the model fails to meet the 
applicable Energy Star specification, and then refer failures to EPA 
for further action. Under either scenario, EPA is ultimately 
responsible for making all Energy Star-related disqualification 
decisions. If it decides to disqualify the product, the manufacturer 
will be required to discontinue using the Energy Star label on that 
product model and take other corrective actions as directed. According 
to an EPA official responsible for managing the Energy Star program--a 
voluntary program whereby EPA relies on federal trademark law 
protections and the terms and conditions of the partnership agreements-
-the agency's decisions regarding product disqualification are final 
and not subject to judicial review or other formal administrative 
review process. 

EPA Has Taken Initial Steps to Update the Program: 

As the lead agency responsible for managing the Energy Star brand, EPA 
has taken steps to update program requirements by broadening the 
number of included product categories as well as updating performance 
specifications for existing products. Since 2009, EPA and DOE have 
finalized new specifications for 2 residential product categories: 
computer servers and integral light-emitting diode (LED) 
lamps.[Footnote 32] EPA is currently developing specifications for 
another 5 product categories, including residential climate controls 
and data center storage equipment, to be added in late 2011 or 2012. 
The agency is also researching the potential addition of another 15 
product categories with high energy savings potential, such as clothes 
dryers and countertop appliances. According to agency officials, EPA's 
efforts to expand the number of categories covered by the Energy Star 
program depend on available resources, and its ongoing priority is 
maintaining updated specifications for existing products. 

In addition to expanding the Energy Star program, EPA has also taken 
steps to ensure that required product performance specifications are 
updated more frequently for existing product categories and make them 
more stringent as markets and technologies advance. EPA has developed 
a schedule to review and update, as necessary, performance 
specifications for all Energy Star product categories by calendar year 
2013. In developing this schedule, EPA evaluated market share, test 
procedure issues, changes to federal minimum standards, technological 
advancements, and other opportunities to expand program coverage. In 
2010, all of the "longer-lived" product categories with market shares 
over 35 percent as of 2008 were scheduled for review, as well as 25 
percent of the "rapidly evolving" products that have had 
specifications issued in the past 3 years. EPA initiated several 
product specification updates in 2010, including reviews of the 
criteria for televisions, computers, and dishwashers, and currently 
has 25 specifications under review in 2011. In the 2011 Joint Energy 
Star Work Plan, EPA stated that it would be able to complete 
approximately 21 updates by the end of the year. A number of the 
revisions have already been completed, including updates for 
televisions, residential dishwashers, and furnaces. However, EPA 
officials told us that the anticipated timelines to complete some 
updates have been extended and will likely be completed sometime in 
early 2012. 

As part of the 2009 MOU, the agreement reiterated one of the program's 
long-standing criteria that Energy Star performance specifications 
should be set so that labeled products represent approximately the top 
25 percent of available models.[Footnote 33] As most of the updates to 
Energy Star specifications are currently under development, we could 
not evaluate how effective the program has been overall in meeting 
this criterion. However, for some completed updates, EPA has moved to 
set more stringent performance specifications. For example, EPA 
notified program partners in October 2010 that it was planning to 
initiate a review of DOE's 2008 performance specification for 
residential dishwashers, which included a more stringent level that 
was set to take effect in July 2011. In EPA's analysis, the agency 
estimated that more than 87 percent of standard-sized residential 
dishwashers would meet the 2008 DOE specification. EPA has replaced 
that specification with a newer version that includes more stringent 
criteria that will take effect in January 2012. In developing the 
updated specification, EPA's analysis projected that 21 percent of 
standard dishwasher models would meet this updated performance level. 
Similarly, in developing an updated specification for gas furnaces, 
EPA estimated that between 8 and 13 percent of available models would 
meet the new performance levels ultimately adopted by the agency in 
June 2011. In response to comments on the draft furnace specification, 
EPA acknowledged that while this was less than the program's typical 
25 percent level, product availability should increase for consumers 
by the time the specification takes effect in February 2012. EPA 
officials also told us that while they are striving to set Energy Star 
specifications so that the label serves as a meaningful differentiator 
for energy-efficient products, projecting the makeup of the market 
when the updated specifications take effect can be difficult. 

Under the MOU, DOE has lead responsibility for developing and updating 
the test procedures that are used to measure the efficiency of Energy 
Star products. According to a DOE planning document, the agency 
expects to complete development of new test procedures and updates to 
existing ones for all Energy Star product categories within the next 5 
years. DOE reported it had updated test procedures for five Energy 
Star products in 2010 and has established a schedule to prioritize its 
review of the test procedures for 25 Energy Star product categories in 
fiscal years 2011 and 2012. EPA and DOE officials told us that as they 
continue to transition into their roles outlined in the 2009 MOU, 
officials from both agencies meet regularly to coordinate their 
activities and work together to resolve test procedure issues as they 
arise during the specification update process. 

EPA Is Conducting a Pilot Program to Promote the Most Efficient Energy 
Star Products: 

Under the 2009 MOU, EPA and DOE agreed to explore a SuperStar program 
that would identify the most energy-efficient Energy Star-labeled 
products in given categories. In October 2010, EPA released for 
comment its proposal for a pilot program--referred to as Top-Tier--
that would promote and advance highly efficient products in the 
marketplace. In addition to seeking input from Energy Star program 
partners and other interested parties, EPA reviewed existing market 
research to evaluate consumer interests and preferences in highly 
efficient products. The agency also conducted a combination of one-on-
one interviews with consumers across the country and 12 focus groups 
in four locations to explore various aspects of the proposal. 
Specifically, EPA sought consumers' views on the proposal's potential 
to harm the Energy Star brand--by confusing consumers--and their 
willingness to pay more for higher-efficiency products. Additionally, 
EPA also gathered the consumers' reactions to various options to 
identify the top-tier products. For example, EPA presented alternative 
labeling options such as Most Efficient, Maximum Efficiency, Best in 
Class, and Top Tier. In general, EPA's findings suggested consumers 
did not think that the additional program would harm the Energy Star 
program and that some were willing to pay more to purchase the most 
efficient products available. Moreover, the research also indicated 
that consumers get most of their information about new products 
through retail locations and the Internet. 

In March 2011, after reviewing comments received on the initial 
proposal and incorporating findings from the consumer research, EPA 
elected to proceed with a pilot program. As part of this effort, EPA 
issued draft recognition criteria for seven product categories, 
including clothes washers, air source heat pumps, central air 
conditioners, furnaces, geothermal heat pumps, refrigerator-freezers, 
and televisions. Overall, EPA received comments from nearly 40 
individuals and stakeholder groups on the program in general as well 
as the draft recognition criteria. On May 5, 2011, EPA announced the 
final eligibility criteria for the seven categories that will be 
included in the pilot program, now referred to as the Most Efficient 
program, along with instructions to manufacturers for obtaining the 
recognition. 

To obtain the Most Efficient recognition, a manufacturer must inform 
EPA that it is interested in the designation, ensure that product 
performance has been certified by an EPA-recognized certification 
body, and confirm that the product meets the recognition criteria. 
Once the agency determines a product is eligible for the recognition, 
it will be highlighted on the Energy Star website and the manufacturer 
will be given access to use the Most Efficient marketing template, 
shown in figure 2. EPA's guidance stipulates that the designation is 
not to be used as an additional product or packaging label, but is 
intended for use in marketing and promotion through in-store materials 
and websites. As of August 10, 2011, EPA had recognized 78 models as 
Most Efficient across five of the seven categories, including 15 
clothes washers, 18 televisions, 26 central air conditioners, 17 air 
source heat pumps, and 2 refrigerator-freezers.[Footnote 34] 

Figure 2: EPA's Energy Star Most Efficient Marketing Template: 

[Refer to PDF for image: logo illustration] 

Source: Energy Star. 

[End of figure] 

According to EPA documents, the goal of the pilot program is to drive 
the most energy-efficient products into the market at a quicker pace. 
In publicly announcing the program to consumers in July 2011, EPA and 
DOE officials said that the new designation will provide manufacturers 
with incentives to find innovative ways to achieve greater energy 
efficiency gains while providing consumers new information about top- 
performing products. In a letter to stakeholders describing the final 
eligibility criteria for the pilot program, EPA stated that the 
program was being targeted at early adopters and environmentally 
motivated consumers who are interested in products that demonstrate 
efficiency that is "truly exceptional, inspirational, or leading edge" 
without compromising performance. For example, for medium-to large-
volume clothes washers, the recognition criteria, among other things, 
require that the models be 50 percent more energy-efficient and use 45 
percent less water than the standard Energy Star-qualified models. In 
response to comments EPA received about the criteria and inability of 
certain products to qualify for the recognition, EPA has stated that 
the program may not be suitable for all product sizes and 
configurations. For example, in our analysis of the recognition 
criteria for refrigerator-freezers, we found that only two of the 
seven configurations of refrigerator-freezers that are currently 
eligible to qualify under the basic Energy Star specification have 
models that would meet the most efficient criteria.[Footnote 35] In 
addition, our analysis indicated that none of the almost 600 Energy 
Star-qualified refrigerator-freezers with through-the-door ice 
functionality would satisfy the recognition criteria. 

The pilot phase was originally planned to run from May 5, 2011, 
through December 31, 2011, but agency officials told us they expect to 
extend the program into 2012. EPA will evaluate the program to 
determine whether it should continue beyond 2012, and if so, whether 
to include additional products, EPA is still developing the specific 
evaluation criteria and its plans for obtaining consumer feedback 
about the pilot program. If the Most Efficient program is continued 
beyond the pilot phase, EPA plans to annually issue new program 
requirements and announce any new product categories to be added prior 
to the beginning of each calendar year. 

Program Partners Generally Had Favorable Views of the Energy Star 
Program but Identified Several Areas of Concern: 

Program partners we contacted generally had positive views of the 
Energy Star program and recently implemented changes but raised 
primary concerns about the program's ongoing changes. In particular, 
program partners raised three areas of concern: that the program may 
become less voluntary in nature, that EPA's ongoing pilot program to 
promote the most highly efficient products could diminish the value of 
the Energy Star label, and that the cost of participating in the 
program is rising. 

Program Partners Generally Had Positive Views of the Energy Star 
Program: 

The majority of Energy Star program partners and other interested 
groups we spoke with, such as representatives of manufacturing trade 
associations and groups advocating on behalf of efforts to increase 
energy efficiency, viewed the program favorably. For example, 18 out 
of 23 manufacturing partners we interviewed said they were either 
satisfied or very satisfied with their decision to become an Energy 
Star program partner, while another 4 said they were neither satisfied 
nor dissatisfied. The foremost strengths these and other program 
partners identified were the overall strength of the Energy Star brand 
itself and its wide recognition by American consumers. Specifically, 
when asked to identify the strengths of the Energy Star program, 21 
out of the 23 manufacturing partners we spoke with identified the 
Energy Star brand recognition as one of the program's top strengths. 
In addition, several retailers that we spoke with cited brand 
recognition as a top strength of the Energy Star Program. Program 
partners also told us that the simple nature of the label was 
effective in helping consumers identify energy-efficient products, and 
served as a good marketing tool for manufacturers and retailers. 
Almost all of the manufacturing partners we spoke to, as well as some 
other program partners, stated that EPA has done a good job of 
promoting the label to consumers. In addition, several retailers we 
interviewed identified high Energy Star brand awareness among 
consumers as a positive program attribute. Most retail and 
manufacturing partners also told us that the loss of the Energy Star 
program would be detrimental to their businesses. For example, most 
manufacturing partners stated that the fact that Energy Star was a 
nationally recognized, government-sponsored program helped their 
efforts to develop and promote energy-efficient products to consumers. 
In addition, some of the program partners we spoke with said that 
without the Energy Star label, a new type of energy-efficient label, 
or a revision of an existing energy label, could replace the Energy 
Star label; however, the lack of federal government support would 
undermine its credibility. 

Many of the program partners we spoke with also viewed the changes 
being implemented as a result of the MOU favorably, although their 
perceptions varied. For example, many retail, state, and utility 
partners told us they believe the new third-party testing and 
certification procedures increase the program's credibility. Officials 
from one state agency stated the new process will have a "huge 
positive impact" on consumer confidence. In addition, most program 
partners we contacted told us they generally supported steps taken in 
the MOU to clarify agencies' roles and establish a single agency as 
the brand manager. Some of the program partners we spoke with said 
that, in their opinion, prior to the MOU, collaboration and 
communication between DOE and EPA was poor and at times confusing. 
Since the MOU took effect, many program partners, as well as energy 
efficiency groups, recognized significant improvements in 
communication and coordination between the two agencies. However, 
program partners varied in whether they thought DOE or EPA should have 
been designated as the lead agency for managing the Energy Star 
program given the differing expertise associated with each agency. For 
example, one manufacturing partner we spoke with said that he viewed 
EPA as a good brand marketer but viewed DOE as having more technical 
expertise. 

Program Partners Raised Concerns about Some Ongoing Program Changes: 

Program partners and other interested groups, such as representatives 
from manufacturing trade associations and energy efficiency groups, 
expressed three areas of concern about the ongoing changes to the 
Energy Star program. 

Shift in the voluntary nature of the program. First, program partners 
and other interested parties expressed concern that the ongoing 
changes are shifting the voluntary nature of the program to include 
elements of some traditional regulatory programs but without the 
procedural safeguards of such programs. For example, a few 
manufacturing partners and an appliance manufacturing association we 
spoke with expressed concern that while the decision to become a 
partner in the program is voluntary, having qualified Energy Star 
products is often necessary to compete for placement in key retail 
stores. In addition, one manufacturing partner we spoke with sold its 
products almost exclusively to federal, state, or local governments, 
which were required to procure only Energy Star-qualified products. In 
addition, several federal tax credits are available for certain 
residential consumer products such as heating and cooling systems, 
windows, and doors that meet Energy Star requirements.[Footnote 36] 
Similarly, states and utility companies we spoke with said they offer 
rebates to consumers for purchasing Energy Star-qualified products. 
All the rebate programs we reviewed required products that were--at a 
minimum--Energy Star-qualified. A representative from an appliance-
manufacturing association that represents many of the appliance-
manufacturing partners noted that some of the changes implemented 
under the MOU are similar to procedures found in some more traditional 
regulatory programs, such as third-party certification, verification 
testing, and enforcement for qualified products. Traditional 
regulatory programs also afford affected stakeholders with Federal 
Register notice of, and significant opportunities to comment on, 
agency action. Given the importance of participating in the program, 
representatives from a manufacturing association also raised concerns 
that the Energy Star program does not have an independent 
administrative review process where adverse agency actions related to 
setting specifications and disqualifications can be reviewed prior to 
seeking judicial review. For example, the Department of Agriculture's 
National Appeals Division provides an independent forum within the 
department for program participants to seek administrative appeals of 
adverse agency decisions. In addition, the manufacturing association 
representatives said the program should retain its voluntary nature 
but incorporate more of the transparency and procedural safeguards 
associated with a typical regulatory program. Representatives from 
another trade association we spoke with said the program could benefit 
from having more structure for soliciting comments on specification 
revisions and more clearly articulating how the comments were handled 
in the final decision. Nonetheless, several program partners noted 
that the voluntary nature of the program and its requirements, which 
are less formal than those associated with a traditional regulatory 
program, provided greater flexibility and allowed the program to 
respond more quickly to change. 

Many manufacturing partners we spoke with also told us that they 
believed EPA's key decisions--including its basis for updating product 
specifications and testing requirements--lack transparency. Most 
manufacturing partners expressing an opinion rated the program's 
responsiveness to partner input, as well as its processes for 
resolving potential disputes related to testing and enforcement, as 
fair or poor. One LED lighting manufacturer felt EPA lacked 
transparency by not providing adequate justification for the amount of 
testing required to qualify its new product line. As a result, the 
manufacturer did not understand why it would need to test its product 
in excess of what was required of other LED lighting manufacturers 
using a different technology. After discussions with EPA, the agency 
modified the amount of testing initially proposed, but the 
manufacturer still felt the agency had not clearly articulated a basis 
for the increased testing. This manufacturer asserted the basis for 
EPA's decision in this case was unclear and unfair, and the 
manufacturer was frustrated that the program had no mechanism for 
reviewing this decision. 

Ongoing pilot program. Second, program partners we spoke with differed 
on their views of EPA's new pilot program to promote the most 
efficient products. About half of the manufacturing partners stated 
that it may harm the Energy Star program, and over half of those 
partners told us they would consider dropping out of the program or 
reducing the number of products they have certified because of various 
reasons including the Most Efficient program and higher costs of 
certification.[Footnote 37] Some of these partners raised concerns 
that creating two classes of Energy Star products could diminish the 
value of the Energy Star label for manufacturing partners whose 
products meet the standard Energy Star specification but may not rank 
among the most efficient products. For example, a few manufacturing 
partners said if the pilot program becomes a permanent part of the 
Energy Star program, then they would consider the Energy Star label to 
be "second class" and would consider completely withdrawing from the 
program. Some of the smaller manufacturing partners we spoke with also 
said that while several of their products may meet the Energy Star 
specifications, the high cost of product certification may mean they 
can pursue certification only for products that would be eligible for 
Most Efficient recognition, which could remove some of their energy-
efficient products from the Energy Star program. As a result, 
consumers, faced with the more efficient yet often more costly 
products, may purchase fewer energy-efficient products. In addition, 
some program partners we spoke with expressed concerns that consumers 
may become confused with a new recognition promoting the most 
efficient products. These program partners, as well as retail partners 
we spoke with, said that they believe consumers generally prefer the 
simple nature of the existing Energy Star label as a means for them to 
easily identify energy-efficient products over a tiered program with 
more than one efficiency class. In addition, a few manufacturing 
partners told us that they view some eligibility requirements for the 
pilot program as reflecting criteria beyond energy efficiency. For 
example, a manufacturing partner told us that one of the requirements 
for air conditioning units to qualify for the Most Efficient 
designation was to have certain features that provide diagnostic 
information, even though, in their opinion, these controls do not 
affect the amount of energy the unit uses.[Footnote 38] 

Rising cost. Third, some program partners and other parties raised 
concerns about the rising cost of participating in the program. For 
example, many of the manufacturing partners and representatives from 
both of the trade associations we spoke with view the third-party 
testing and certification procedures as an unnecessary expense. Almost 
all of the manufacturing partners we spoke with stated the cost to 
participate in the program had increased. Some manufacturing partners-
-particularly small manufacturers or manufacturers with few Energy 
Star products--also told us the increasing costs could discourage 
their participation. Some small companies expressed concerns that EPA 
has not considered the impact that these increased costs will have on 
their level of participation. As a result of the rising costs, a few 
of these manufacturers said competition will likely decrease, bigger 
businesses will dominate the markets, and prices will begin to rise. 
One manufacturing partner stated that the certification costs are too 
high for specialty or one-of-a-kind products. This manufacturer said 
the costs to certify such products would increase the overall costs to 
participate, so manufacturers producing these types of products would 
have to drop out of the program. However, almost all of the 
manufacturing partners we contacted said that while they may limit the 
number of products they submit for the Energy Star label, they plan to 
continue as a program partner at this time. 

Conclusions: 

Since its inception, the Energy Star program has evolved from a small 
program focused on computers and monitors to a widely scoped program 
that represents thousands of products and claims saving consumers 
billions of dollars in energy costs. The Energy Star program's success 
in promoting energy-efficient products is widely recognized, and 
consumers, manufacturers, utilities, and federal and state agencies 
rely on it. In particular, Energy Star plays an important role helping 
consumers choose energy-efficient products. The implementation of 
EPA's and DOE's MOU, developed in response to important weaknesses 
identified by us and others, has led to significant programmatic 
changes. The pace of progress to implement these changes is laudable, 
and if EPA and DOE can sustain this momentum, the proposed changes 
have the potential to strengthen the credibility of the brand and the 
program as a whole. However, as the agencies continue implementing 
changes under the MOU, it will be important to be attentive to the 
effects of these changes and identify any need for course corrections 
if and when such needs emerge. 

The program partners we spoke with--in particular, manufacturers-- 
provided insights into what may be early indicators of potential 
problems. Many of the changes to Energy Star were necessitated by 
problems in how the program was previously structured, but the changes 
may be shifting the procedures of the program in a new direction 
residing somewhere between the voluntary partnership that EPA 
initially developed and a more traditional regulatory program. Part of 
this shift is a result of the market pressure some manufacturers feel 
to participate in Energy Star, which may make it no longer appropriate 
to characterize the program as truly voluntary. Another part of the 
shift is the addition of more substantial testing and increased 
efforts to identify and potentially disqualify nonconforming products--
something clearly needed--but which heightens concerns over the 
apparently limited ability for manufacturers to seek an independent 
review of adverse agency decisions involving setting specification 
levels and disqualifying products. 

Given the importance of the program, EPA's decisions have potentially 
significant implications for consumers or manufacturers. For example, 
if mistakes are made in verification testing and manufacturers are not 
given sufficient opportunity to seek independent review of these 
decisions, then some energy-efficient devices could be unfairly 
removed from the program, thus costing manufacturers sales and 
resulting in lost opportunities for consumers to save energy. Further, 
rising complexity and costs may eventually undermine manufacturers' 
participation in the program. Because the new third-party testing and 
certification process is increasing the cost for manufacturers to 
participate in the program, manufacturers--particularly smaller 
manufacturers or manufacturers with only a small Energy Star presence-
-are likely to pay careful attention to the overall costs and benefits 
of the program and may revisit their decisions to participate in it. 
In this light, it will be important for EPA to balance its increased 
emphasis on testing and improving the credibility of the program with 
feedback from partners on the costs of these new requirements. 
Finally, while the Most Efficient pilot program could boost the sales 
of highly efficient devices, this program--in the context of rising 
costs of participating in the program--could result in manufacturers 
declining to certify some devices, which may result in lost 
opportunities to reduce energy consumption. 

Recommendation for Executive Action: 

To ensure decisions of the Energy Star program are fair and 
transparent, we recommend that the Administrator of EPA assess the 
need to develop a process for independent review of adverse agency 
decisions for the Energy Star program as it relates to setting 
specifications and disqualifications. If the Administrator of EPA 
determines that there is a need for an independent review process but 
that the agency has insufficient legal authority to undertake one, it 
should seek additional authority from Congress. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

We provided EPA and DOE with a draft of this report for review and 
comment. We received written comments from EPA's Assistant 
Administrator, which are presented in appendix III. DOE did not 
provide comments on the draft report. In its comments, EPA stated its 
commitment to ensure the Energy Star label's credibility. In 
commenting on the report, EPA stated that the Energy Star program has 
made notable progress implementing changes to ensure the Energy Star 
label remains a credible designator of energy-efficient, 
environmentally friendly products in the market. Regarding our 
recommendation that the Administrator of EPA assess the need to 
develop a process for independent review of adverse agency decisions 
for the Energy Star program as it relates to setting specifications 
and disqualifications to ensure decisions of the program are fair and 
transparent, EPA neither agreed nor disagreed. EPA stated that close 
attention will continue to be paid to ensuring transparency in the 
program's operation and careful consideration of stakeholder input and 
interest. In addition, EPA provided technical comments and 
clarifications, which we incorporated as appropriate. 

We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional 
committees, the Administrator of EPA, the Secretary of Energy, and 
other interested parties. The report will also be available at no 
charge on the GAO website at [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you or your staff members have any questions about this report, 
please contact me at (202) 512-3841 or ruscof@gao.gov. Contact points 
for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be 
found on the last page of this report. GAO staff who made major 
contributions to this report are listed in appendix IV. 

Signed by: 

Frank Rusco: 
Director, Natural Resources and Environment: 

List of Congressional Requesters: 

The Honorable Jeff Bingaman: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Lisa Murkowski: 
Ranking Member: 
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Susan Collins: 
Ranking Member: 
Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Lamar Alexander: 
Ranking Member: 
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
United States Senate: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

To determine the status of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 
and Department of Energy's (DOE) implementation of changes to the 
Energy Star program under its 2009 memorandum of understanding (MOU), 
we reviewed the program's authorizing legislation. We also reviewed 
agency documentation related to the Energy Star program and the MOU, 
including program policies, guidance, and draft and final versions of 
product performance eligibility criteria and specifications. We also 
interviewed key agency officials at EPA, DOE, and the Federal Trade 
Commission (FTC) regarding the implementation of the MOU and other 
associated issues. 

To identify program partners' views of the Energy Star program and the 
changes that are under way, we interviewed representatives from five 
state energy offices in locations with significant outreach efforts, 
including the California Energy Commission and the New York State 
Energy Research and Development Authority, five regional utilities, 
six major retailers at the national and local levels, and two 
manufacturers' trade associations, as well as several energy 
efficiency organizations and consumer advocacy groups. We also visited 
Energy Star partners in several states, including California, 
Illinois, Washington, and Wisconsin, to learn their perspectives on 
the program. We interviewed officials from a DOE laboratory that 
specializes in energy efficiency and sustainable energy. We also met 
with representatives and toured a laboratory that is an EPA-recognized 
body for Energy Star product accreditation, certification, and 
verification testing. In addition, we obtained product manufacturers' 
perspectives of the Energy Star program and the ongoing changes 
through a series of semistructured interviews. EPA provided an updated 
list (as of January 1, 2011) of Energy Star manufacturing partners 
that produce residential products. We categorized the list into six 
product types: appliances, including clothes washers and 
refrigerators; building products, including windows and roofing; 
computers and electronics, including imaging equipment; heating and 
cooling products, including air cleaners and furnaces; lighting and 
fans, including light fixtures, compact fluorescent bulbs and solid 
state lighting; and plumbing, including water heaters. For 
manufacturers producing products in more than one of the above product 
categories, we created a seventh combination category. From this list 
of seven product categories, we randomly selected 23 manufacturers 
stratifying across the seven categories to participate in a telephone 
survey regarding their perceptions of the program and changes made 
since implementation of the MOU. The results of the closed questions 
from the surveys are included in appendix II. In addition, we asked 
several open-ended questions, which we later analyzed, to identify 
issues that were mentioned frequently and for which there seemed to be 
common agreement. These comments were used to identify three areas of 
concern of the program partners about the changes to the Energy Star 
program. The results of the survey are nongeneralizable to the 
universe of all Energy Star manufacturing partners. Last, to obtain 
further information about manufacturers' views, we judgmentally 
selected other product manufacturers to interview separately from the 
survey. 

We conducted this performance audit from August 2010 to September 
2011, in accordance with generally accepted government auditing 
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit 
to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable 
basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 
We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for 
our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: Program Partners' Interview Responses: 

1. How important were the following to your company's decision to 
qualify your products to carry the Energy Star label? 

Tapping into consumers' demand for energy-efficient products: 
Extremely important: 7; 
Very important: 10; 
Moderately important: 4; 
Somewhat important: 2; 
Not at all important: 0. 

Improving public awareness about the importance of energy efficiency: 
Extremely important: 6; 
Very important: 5; 
Moderately important: 6; 
Somewhat important: 4; 
Not at all important: 2. 

Promoting environmental protection through reduced energy consumption: 
Extremely important: 3; 
Very important: 8; 
Moderately important: 6; 
Somewhat important: 5; 
Not at all important: 1. 

Requiring products to have the Energy Star label by retailers: 
Extremely important: 1; 
Very important: 8; 
Moderately important: 5; 
Somewhat important: 1; 
Not at all important: 8. 

Other (please specify): 

2. On the basis of your experience with the program, how satisfied or 
dissatisfied is your company with the decision to become an Energy 
Star partner?
Very satisfied: 8; 
Somewhat satisfied: 10; 
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied: 4; 
Somewhat dissatisfied: 1; 
Very dissatisfied: 0. 

3. How would your company rate the Energy Star program in the 
following areas? 

The program's ability to increase consumer awareness and promote the 
brand to consumers: 
Excellent: 7; 
Very good: 6; 
Good: 9; 
Fair: 1; 
Poor: 0; 
No comment: [Empty]. 

The program's outreach to/communication with program partners, such as 
your company and other manufacturers: 
Excellent: 3; 
Very good: 9; 
Good: 6; 
Fair: 4; 
Poor: 1; 
No comment: [Empty]. 

The program's responsiveness to program partner input on program 
changes: 
Excellent: 0; 
Very good: 1; 
Good: 7; 
Fair: 9; 
Poor: 4; 
No comment: 2. 

The program's process for resolving potential disputes related to 
testing and enforcement activities: 
Excellent: 0; 
Very good: 0; 
Good: 6; 
Fair: 5; 
Poor: 4; 
No comment: 8. 

4. In your company's opinion, how do consumers perceive Energy Star- 
labeled products as compared with other products with respect to 
energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, and environmental friendliness? 

Energy efficiency: 
Much more: 15; 
Somewhat more: 8; 
Neither more nor less: 0; 
Somewhat less: 0; 
Much less: 0. 

Cost effectiveness: 
Much more: 2; 
Somewhat more: 5; 
Neither more nor less: 13; 
Somewhat less: 3; 
Much less: 0. 

Environmentally friendly: 
Much more: 15; 
Somewhat more: 8; 
Neither more nor less: 0; 
Somewhat less: 0; 
Much less: 0. 

5. Has your company conducted market research to evaluate consumer 
perceptions of Energy Star-labeled products?
Yes: 4; 
No: 19; 
Don't know: 0: 

Energy Star is a voluntary labeling program that was established to 
reduce energy consumption, improve national energy security, and 
reduce pollution such as greenhouse gases by identifying and promoting 
products that meet the highest energy conservation standards. 

6. In your company's opinion, how effective has the program been at 
meeting these goals?
Very effective1:
Effective: 10; 
Moderately effective: 7; 
Somewhat effective: 4; 
Not at all effective: 0; 
Don't know: 1. 

What concerns, if any, does your company have about the direction of 
the Energy Star program and how it is meeting these goals? 

7. To what extent does your company work with other Energy Star 
partners? 

Retailers: 
Great extent: 3; 
Some extent: 7; 
Little extent: 2; 
Not at all: 11. 

Utilities: 
Great extent: 0; 
Some extent: 8; 
Little extent: 7; 
Not at all: 8. 

States: 
Great extent: 1; 
Some extent: 4; 
Little extent: 9; 
Not at all: 9. 

Others program partners. Please specify: 

In 2009, EPA and DOE signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that 
designated EPA as the primary brand manager of the Energy Star 
labeling program, including marketing the brand and setting product 
specification levels. DOE will continue to provide technical support 
to EPA and lead development of product-testing procedures. Under the 
MOU, EPA plans to broaden the number of product categories covered by 
the program, update performance specifications more frequently, make 
the product qualification process more stringent by implementing third-
party certification requirements, and identify super-efficient 
products through a "top tier" program. Now, we'd like to ask some 
questions about these changes outlined in the MOU. 

8. From your company's perspective, do you agree with the decision to 
designate EPA as the primary brand manager for all Energy Star product 
categories?
Yes: 13; 
No: 3; 
Don't know: 7. 

9. One of the changes outlined in the 2009 MOU was a commitment to 
broaden the number of product categories that would be eligible to 
carry the Energy Star label. The plan calls for doubling the number of 
products that are added annually to the program. Would you say that 
continuing to expand the number of products eligible for the Energy 
Star label would enhance the value of the brand, reduce the value of 
the brand, or have no effect on the value of the brand?
Enhance value of brand: 7; 
Have no effect: 5; 
Reduce value of brand: 11; 
Don't know/no opinion: 0. 

10. What is your company's view on the number of product categories in 
the program? Would you say that there are too many, about the right 
amount, or not enough product categories?
Too many: 4; 
About the right amount: 6; 
Not enough: 6; 
Don't know: 7. 

The 2009 MOU also provides that product specifications will be updated 
more frequently and set more stringently. The agreement states that 
specification levels will be set so that the Energy Star label 
represents approximately the top 25 percent most efficient models 
within a given product class. Does your company view the specification 
levels as too stringent, about right, or not stringent enough?
Too stringent: 4; 
About right: 13; 
Not stringent enough: 3; 
Don't know: 3. 

For products that are "longer-lived,"--that is, products that have a 
longer life, such as refrigerators--the agreement states that 
specifications will be reviewed at least once every 3 years, or when 
market share for Energy Star-labeled products reaches 35 percent. For 
other categories with rapidly evolving products, the agreement calls 
for reviewing about every 2 years. 

11. In general, are these criteria adequate to keep Energy Star 
specification up to date?
Yes: 18; 
No: 3; 
Don't know: 2. 

What criteria would you propose? 

12. The agreement also includes a proposal to add a new "top tier" or 
"most efficient" program that will identify the most efficient 
products within a given category (approximately the top 5 percent). 

Would your company say that this was a positive step or a negative step?
Positive: 8; 
Neither positive nor negative: 3; 
Negative: 11; 
Don't know: 1. 

13. Have you submitted a product for certification to the Energy Star 
program since the new third-party certification requirement became 
effective on January 1, 2011?
Yes: 9; 
No: 14 (Skip to Question 16); 
Don't know: 0 (Skip to Question 16). 

14. Did your company use a third-party laboratory to conduct the 
certification testing?
Yes: 9; 
No: 0; 
Don't know: 0. 

15. Did your company have difficulty finding a third-party laboratory 
to perform the certification testing?
Yes: 1; 
No: 8; 
Don't know: 0. 

16. In your company's opinion, how does third-party certification 
testing of Energy Star products compare with the previous self- 
certification process in the following categories? 

Cost to obtain the label: 
Greatly increases: 11; 
Somewhat increases: 10; 
Neither increases nor decreases: 2; 
Somewhat Decreases: 0; 
Greatly decreases: 0; 
No comment: 0. 

Time to qualify products and get approval to carry the label: 
Greatly increases: 7; 
Somewhat increases: 6; 
Neither increases nor decreases: 7; 
Somewhat Decreases: 0; 
Greatly decreases: 0; 
No comment: 3. 

17. Have any of your company's Energy Star-labeled products been 
subject to Energy Star "off-the-shelf" verification testing or EPA's 
or DOE's enforcement actions?
Yes: 7; 
No: 16; 
Don't know: 0. 

If yes, please explain the results: 

18. Are you familiar with EPA's procedure for delisting a labeled 
product?
Yes: 8; 
No: 15 (Skip to Question 19); 
Don't know: 0 (Skip to Question 19). 

Is the process clear?
Yes: 6; 
No: 0; 
Don't know: 2. 

Is it fair?
Yes: 6; 
No: 0; 
Don't know: 2. 

19. In your company's view, are the program's enforcement mechanisms 
adequate to ensure labeled products comply with program requirements 
and meet performance criteria?
Yes: 12; 
Yes and no: 1; 
No: 3; 
Don't know: 7. 

20. Did your company consider, or is it considering, taking any of the 
following actions as a result of the changes to the Energy Star 
program being implemented under the MOU?
Discontinue/withdrawal from the program: 2; 
Continue to participate, but reduce the number of qualified products: 
8; 
Continue to participate with no change to the number of qualified 
products: 9; 
Continue to participate and increase the number of qualified products4:
Consider any other actions: 0. 

21. Has your company sought out alternative energy efficiency labels 
other than Energy Star?
Yes: 8; 
No: 15; 
Don't know: 0. 

[End of section] 

Appendix III: Comments from the Environmental Protection Agency: 

United States Environmental Protection Agency: 
Office Of Air And Radiation: 
Washington, DC 20460: 

Mr. Frank Rusco: 
Director, Natural Resources and Environment: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street, NW: 
Washington. DC 20548: 

Dear Mr. Rusco: 

On behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I 
appreciate the opportunity to provide a response to the Government 
Accountability Office's (GAO) draft report on ongoing changes to the 
Energy Star Program. As the report reflects, the Energy Star program 
has made notable progress implementing changes to ensure the Energy 
Star label remains a credible designator of energy efficient. 
environmentally friendly products in the market. 

* In just over nine months, EPA developed and instituted a third-party 
certification program applicable across all 60 product categories, 
specifying conditions and criteria for participating accreditation 
bodies (ABs), certification bodies (CBs) and test laboratories. To 
date, 27 ABs. 20 CBs and more than 350 labs are participating in this 
program. Since January 1. 2011, more than 10,000 products have been 
certified. 

* EPA and DOE have dramatically expanded verification testing of 
products, beginning with a 2010 DOE pilot program that focused on 
categories eligible for state rebates under the American Recovery and 
Reinvestment Act of 2009. Requirements for on-going, third-party 
verification of a percentage of all Energy Star qualified product 
categories are in effect and test programs are currently ramping up. 

* Wide ranging product performance updates are underway. Twenty-five 
Energy Star product specifications either have been or are being 
updated in 2011. A schedule has been established to review and update, 
as necessary, the performance specifications for all Energy Star 
product categories by 2013. 

* A pilot program was researched, developed and launched, leveraging 
the Energy Star platform to drive the most energy efficient products 
into the market more quickly. So far, 87 product models in 5 
categories have been recognized as Energy Star's Most Efficient. 

Like many of the program partners GAO interviewed, we understand that 
the Energy Star label is an extremely valuable asset, built through 
twenty years of public and private investment. 

Significant opportunity remains to leverage that investment and extend 
the Energy Star program's market presence as a champion for American 
consumers, providing them broader access to high-performing products 
that save energy and help protect the environment. As demonstrated by 
the efforts of the past year, EPA remains committed to continuously 
improving the program as the opportunity or need arises. As well, EPA 
cannot overstate its appreciation for the important role program 
participants and stakeholders play in making the Energy Star program a 
success. Close attention will continue to be paid to ensuring 
transparency in the program's operation and careful consideration of 
stakeholder input and interests. 

Thank you for your interest in the continued success of the Energy 
Star program. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

Gina McCarthy
Assistant Administrator: 

[End of section] 

Appendix IV: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Franklin Rusco, (202) 512-3841 or ruscof@gao.gov: 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the individual named above, Jon Ludwigson, Assistant 
Director; Mark Braza; Heather Dowey; Paige M. Gilbreath; Michael 
Meleady; Amanda Miller; Alison D. O'Neill; Barbara R. Timmerman; and 
James W. Turkett made key contributions to this report. 

GAO's Mission: 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] GAO, Opportunities Exist for Federal Agencies to Better Inform 
Household Consumers, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-1162] (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 26, 
2007). 

[2] EPA OIG Report No. 2007-P-00028 (Aug. 1, 2007) and 09-P-0061 (Dec. 
17, 2008). 

[3] See Memorandum of Understanding on Improving the Energy Efficiency 
of Products and Buildings between the U.S. Environmental Protection 
Agency and the Department of Energy (Sept. 30, 2009). 

[4] GAO, Covert Testing Shows the Energy Star Program Certification 
Process Is Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse, GAO-10-470 (Washington, 
D.C.: Mar. 5, 2010). 

[5] EPA OIG Report No. 11-P-0010 (Oct. 28, 2010). 

[6] This report focuses on the residential product-labeling sector of 
the Energy Star program. 

[7] Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-549, § 901(c), 
104 Stat. 2399, 2703 (1990) (codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. § 
7403(g)). 

[8] Energy Policy Act of 1992, Pub. L. No. 102-486, 106 Stat. 2776 
(1992). 

[9] See EPA and DOE, Memorandum of Cooperation on Energy-efficient, 
Environmentally Beneficial Buildings (May 29, 1996) (superseded by 
2009 MOU). 

[10] Energy Policy Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-58, § 131, 119 Stat. 
594, 620 (2005) (codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. § 6294a). 

[11] The Energy Star is a registered trademark owned by the U.S. 
government. 

[12] American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-
5, 123 Stat. 115 (2009). 

[13] For this calculation, we used EPA's Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies 
Calculator, which can be found at [hyperlink, 
http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html]. 

[14] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-1162]. 

[15] EPA OIG Report No. 2007-P-00028 (Aug. 1, 2007). 

[16] EPA OIG Report No.11-P-0010 (Oct. 28, 2010). 

[17] The 2009 MOU superseded the previous 1996 agreement. 

[18] The MOU also outlines proposed changes to DOE's National Building 
Rating Program; however, this program was not reviewed as part of this 
report. 

[19] The MOU did not provide specific requirements for third-party 
testing. 

[20] According to EPA officials, the program historically added an 
average of one or two product categories each year. 

[21] Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, Pub.L. No. 94-163 § 
325, 89 Stat. 871, 923 (1975) (codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. § 
6295). 

[22] The standards have been updated many times since being 
established by Congress, most recently by the Energy Policy Act of 
2005, Pub. L. 109-58 (2005). 

[23] Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 at § 325. 

[24] The Consortium for Energy Efficiency is a nonprofit public 
benefit corporation whose members include utilities, statewide and 
regional market transformation administrators, environmental groups, 
research organizations, and state energy offices in the United States 
and Canada. 

[25] In some instances, manufacturers can use their own in-house test 
laboratories if they have been accredited by an EPA-recognized 
accreditation body, or enrolled in a certification body's supervised 
or witness testing program. 

[26] The new third-party certification requirements did not apply to 
products listed with the program prior to January 1, 2011. The third- 
party requirements will be phased in over the next 2 years as the 
program completes specification revisions for all product categories. 
No product will be eligible to carry the Energy Star label after the 
effective date of any specification revision unless it has been third- 
party certified. 

[27] There are different criteria for accreditation bodies, 
certification bodies, and testing laboratories. For accreditation 
bodies, the Energy Star criteria require at a minimum that they comply 
at all times with the International Organization for Standardization's 
ISO/IEC 17011 standard that established general requirements for 
conformity assessment bodies. For certification bodies, they generally 
must maintain accreditation to ISO/IEC Guide 65, "General requirements 
for bodies operating product certification systems." Testing 
laboratories must be certified to ISO/IEC 17025, "General requirements 
for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories." 

[28] These numbers do not completely reflect the number of supervised 
or witness laboratories or the EPA-recognized lighting certification 
bodies and laboratories, which are maintained in separate lists. 

[29] In addition to using the results to disqualify products from the 
Energy Star program, the results will also be used to ensure covered 
products comply with federal minimum efficiency standards. According 
to DOE's proposed verification testing plan, the agency will also 
notify FTC if it finds a product is not properly rated or is 
represented inaccurately on its Energy Guide label. 

[30] Since DOE's testing will be targeted at the subset of Energy Star 
products that are also covered by the minimum efficiency standards, it 
will not be using this approach for its testing. 

[31] If the parties cannot reach a mutually agreeable resolution, 
either side can provide the other with written notice of the nature of 
the dispute, specific corrective actions being sought, and notice of 
intent to terminate the partnership unless the corrective actions are 
taken. Each side has 20 days to respond to the notification. 

[32] An integral LED lamp is a lamp with LEDs, an integrated LED 
driver, and a standardized base designed to connect to the branch 
circuit via a standardized lamp holder/socket. 

[33] In setting Energy Star performance specifications, EPA guidance 
states that it follows a set of six guiding principles: (1) 
significant energy savings can be realized on a national basis, (2) 
product performance can be maintained or enhanced with increased 
energy efficiency, (3) purchasers will recover their investment in 
increased energy efficiency within a reasonable period of time, (4) 
energy efficiency can be achieved with several technology options, (5) 
product energy consumption and performance can be measured and 
verified with testing, and (6) labeling would effectively 
differentiate products and be visible to purchasers. 

[34] Based on Energy Star product list available at [hyperlink, 
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=most_efficient.me_index], last 
accessed on August 10, 2011. 

[35] These are top-mounted freezers and bottom-mounted freezers. 
Refrigerators without a freezer component are excluded from the 
program. The recognition criteria require that models be at least 30 
percent more efficient than the federal efficiency standard and use 
less than 422 kilowatts per year. 

[36] Federal tax credits are also available for appliance 
manufacturers producing certain dishwashers, clothes washers, and 
refrigerators that exceed Energy Star standards. 

[37] Eight program partners viewed the pilot program as a positive 
addition to the Energy Star program and identified positive benefits, 
including that the pilot program could encourage business innovation 
and consumers to purchase more efficient products. 

[38] According to EPA's response to comments on its draft proposal, 
several published studies have examined the efficiency difference 
between units as tested in the lab and as they work in the field. 
Poorly maintained systems can use 20 percent more energy than well- 
maintained, properly installed systems. The communication and 
diagnostic requirements EPA has included as part of the recognition 
criteria are meant to mitigate these losses. 

[End of section] 

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