When you buy a new appliance you will often see that it has an EnerGuide label, and possibly an ENERGY STAR sticker as well. But what do these labels mean, and how much do they help you consume less energy?
EnerGuide is a labelling program that is part of the Government of Canada’s energy efficiency regulations.The following products must be sold with EnerGuide labels: clothes dryers, clothes washers, integrated over/under washer-dryers, dishwashers, electric ranges, freezers, refrigerators and combination refrigerator-freezers, and room air conditioners. EnerGuide labels indicate annual electric energy consumption for these products under normal circumstances, as well as that particular appliance’s energy consumption in comparison with similar models of the same type and size (on a left-right, lowest-highest scale). Similar regulations exist for lighting.
How to Read the EnerGuide Label
The large number indicates the appliance's estimated annual energy consumption (in kWh). The shaded bar scale shows the range of annual energy consumption for the different models of the appliance tested that are of similar type and size. The arrow just above the bar scale indicates where this particular model ranks relative to the other models in its class. The closer the arrow is to the right (the lighter end of the scale), the more energy efficient it is.
ENERGY STAR is an accompanying label that indicates appliances that achieve premium levels of energy efficiency, based on Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) standards. The ENERGY STAR Initiative began through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States, and has expanded internationally. The Canadian government launched the ENERGY STAR program in 2001.
ENERGY STAR applies to a wide variety of consumer products, including refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers and clotheswashers. Depending on the appliance they must be 10 to 20% more efficient than the minimum regulated standard to achieve ENERGY STAR status.
The ENERGY STAR can also be applied to new home construction. ENERGY STAR for houses must meet technical specifications that are more energy-efficient than the minimum building codes in the region.
ENERGY STAR Criteria
To qualify for ENERGY STAR status in Canada, a product must:
- Be a product that is covered by ENERGY STAR. The label applies to a range of consumer products and construction materials, which are listed on the NRCan website.
- Be made by an ENERGY STAR-participant manufacturer. Participants in the ENERGY STAR program must enter a formal partnership agreement with NRCan, and commit to following the guidelines regarding labelling.
- Meet or exceed ENERGY STAR specifications. Depending on the product, ENERGY STAR specifications require 10-20% greater energy efficiency than the minimum efficiency standards set out by NRCanada
- Be tested by a third-party, a certification body or an NRCan-approved home energy advisor. The certification process involves an initial plant audit for durability followed by ongoing audits to ensure quality control. Manufactures must also submit tests results done by third parties for performance.
The ENERGY STAR program is designed to encourage higher energy efficiency standards in the market for energy-consuming products. In fact, the goal for the program is for the ENERGY STAR label encourage standards to raise so that it is no longer necessary. This has already happened for certain products, such as exit signs. Emergency exit signs was the first product to be covered by ENERGY STAR when it started in Canada in 2001. As higher efficiency light bulbs became more popular in following years, NRCan updated efficiency standards for emergency exit signs that were the same as the ENERGY STAR specifications. ENERGY STAR qualification was no longer necesssary, as all products could be considered of ENERGY STAR standard. ENERGY STAR also has a "Most Efficient" label, that is intended to help consumers find the best-performing (in terms of energy efficiency) products on the market.
Is ENERGY STAR worth it?
As it is designed to promote higher-performing products, the ENERGY STAR label often comes with a price premium. However, these products can often prove cheaper in the long run, as they cost less money to run. NRCan claims, for example, that ENERGY STAR-qualified products can increase energy efficiency by 10 to 50 percent and can cut household energy bills significantly when replacing old equipment.
However, the size of the advantages of ENERGY STAR-labelled products depends on what they are being compared to. An ENERGY STAR labelled washing machine will be significantly more efficient than a washing machine made 10 years ago, but only needs to be xx% more efficient than minimum efficiency standards for all new washing machines. In some cases, therefore, there may not be a huge difference in performance between an ENERGY STAR model and a regular model, if you are purchasing new.
When choosing between an ENERGY STAR and a regular new product, think about the following:
- How much power does this product require to run? Even 10% greater efficiency might represent a significant long-run savings on energy if it is a larger, more energy-consuming product
- How often will I use this product? If this is a product that you use regularly (at least once a week), then it is a good idea to invest in the most energy efficient model that that you can afford. The more often you use a product, the quicker its premium will be amortized.
- By how much does the ENERGY STAR model exceed the minimum standard? The importance of this last factor depends to some extent on the first two questions. Exceeding the norm by 10% might represent significant energy savings if this is a product that uses a lot of enery in general.
ENERGY STAR has received widespread support from manufacturers and electricity utilities.
|Appliance||Specification for Achieving ENERGY STAR Rating|
|Clothes washer (standard size)||Must be 59% more efficient than Canada’s minimum energy performance standard|
|Dishwasher (standard size)||Must be 17% more efficient than Canada’s minimum energy performance standard|
|Dishwasher (compact)||Must be 15% more efficient than Canada’s minimum energy performance standard|
|Freezer (standard size)||Must be 10% more efficient than Canada’s minimum energy performance standard|
|Freezer (compact)||Must be 20% more efficient than Canada’s minimum energy performance standard|
|Refridgerators||Must be 20% more efficient than Canada’s minimum energy performance standard|
Rebates and Incentives for Purchasing ENERGY STAR
Some utilities in provinces in Canada have put in place programs to encourage consumers to purchase energy efficient products. The Government of Canada has published a list of available rebates and incentive programs in provinces throughout Canada here.