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Energy Star Inefficiency Audit: Should I be Worried About My Windows?

In March of 2010, an article was published in regards to a 9 month government study by the Government Accountability Office regarding the rating of Energy Star products. Under the guise of four fictitious companies; they submitted more than a dozen joke products intended on setting off any red flags. This study highlighted some discrepancies in the acceptance process and flaws with Energy Star in particular. To be fair, it was claimed by a representative of the Environmental Protection Agency that the initial approval was done in an automated fashion and later reviewed by a human. That way, it would not hold up the manufacturer of the product. That since the products did not actually exist, the process was not flawed. It did result in some changes in the approval process.

The study revealed that the general process of acceptance was mostly done on faith and with very few questions. Devices drawn up in concept by the GAO were given the Energy Star tag of approval without even physically existing. This is considered to be an incredible breach of the actual processes that screen and verify items. The GAO was forced to rule that the process was extremely prone to being defrauded since such lax controls existed on it.

A final point of mention is how companies related to the Energy Star label. It is found that companies with prior approval can simply go to the website for Energy Star, print off new labels, and attach them to items that have not been screened or approved. In addition, some products without the Energy Star label were found to meet the requirements for approval. The company that produced it simply did not pursue the necessary channels to get the Energy Star label for their product.

What does this mean for me?

Looking at this information may paint a picture of government ineptitude that quite a few people are familiar with. We trust government programs like this to provide actual, realistic support and information on the products we want to purchase. This is not to say that many of the several thousand items with the Energy Star labels are compromised because of it. It is worth saying that it is a problem that exists, so knowing that will allow you to help protect yourself.

What steps can I take?

Research is going to be your biggest friend to ensure that you are getting a quality product that was screened and is continuously checked for efficiency. The following link will deliver you to the Energy Star products page. It is on the page that you can find the product that you are interested in purchasing. Different sections have different means of organization and sorting; so it will largely depend on what you are actually looking for. If you have doubts about a product, visit this page and look for it in the respective list. If the product is not on the list, then it is not Energy Star certified.

Energy Star Product List

Manufacturers you can trust.

This may seem like a difficult idea since major manufacturers are often villainized as large, faceless ventures intent on making money. The reality is, large businesses are intent on making money; but they have many faces and people within the corporation that actually do care about their product and work. Look for those companies if you find yourself having doubts about a given product. The best way to tell is what kind of measures the company takes both for customer services and for their employees.

The first may seem obvious, but the second doesn't unless you have a sound understanding of business in general. A quality company that cares about its product, will care about its people. The leadership of said company will understand that the men and women on the lowest rungs of the ladder are the ones largely responsible for the quality of the product and representation of the company. If a business is not trying to take care of its own, you can be absolutely sure it isn't too interested in taking care of you as a customer. If you really want to check this, virtually every company will have its manufacturing facilities listed on their homepage. Check out a phone number, give the place a call during business hours, and ask to speak to anyone working on the production floor.

Of course, you are getting an opinion, so take it with a grain of salt. But, if you talk to a couple workers and they love the company and don't dread their work shift; well you have probably just found a company you can trust. The little things are what matter most.

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