May 9, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC– Consumers Union (CU), the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, today filed comments with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in support of the Department’s new plan for verification testing of the Energy Star program, which highlights the most energy-efficient consumer products.
“We urge the Department of Energy to adopt the procedures outlined in this proposal,” said Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union. “This is a good plan that includes reforms recommended by Consumers Union to help ensure the independence and effectiveness of the Energy Star program.”
CU has been urging DOE to strengthen its process for verifying Energy Star ratings claimed by manufacturers. CU has found significant differences between the claims made in energy-usage labels and the energy expended during CU’s routine testing of appliances, and has brought these concerns to DOE’s attention.
Baker-Branstetter said, “Under this new plan, products for testing would have to be purchased at retail. That’s a good safeguard against the bias from test samples selected by the manufacturer. It’s a safeguard we use in our own product testing.”
The new plan would also employ effective tools for identifying discrepancies between Energy Star labels and the actual energy consumed by the product, such as stronger standards for accrediting the labs that perform DOE testing and new criteria to encourage manufacturers to test larger samples of products before certifying them as energy efficient.