Navigating Energy Efficiency Certifications and Ratings

The Need to Understand Energy Efficiency Certifications

When evaluating appliances or heating and cooling systems, it’s important to understand the current energy efficiency ratings and certifications available to you. Things like the U.S. Department of Energy Energy Star label or the amount of energy a device consumes can directly impact your monthly bills over time. Therefore, it’s imperative to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.

What an Energy Factor Rating Is

When it comes to finding out how efficient a device you’re looking at is, start by looking at the “Energy Factor” (EF) rating. This rating is used only for dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters and is expressed by the amount of water consumed per cycle – in the case of the washing machine, it’s also expressed as “Water Factor” (WF).

The Difference Between Certification and Ratings

Before you begin your search, it’s important to understand the difference between certification labels (Energy Star, Most Efficient, etc.) and measurement ratings. Certification labels show that a specific type of product has met the minimum energy efficiency standards as determined by a government or industry organization. On the other hand, measurement ratings show the exact amount of energy (or water) that a product consumes or produces in comparison to other models.

Comparing Ratings with Certifications

Once you understand the difference between certifications and ratings, you can begin to compare them. For example, an Energy Star-certified dishwasher should have a higher EF than one that isn’t certified. Also, the “Most Efficient” certification (usually found on clothes washers and dryers) will usually be more efficient than an Energy Star certified model.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star Label

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star label provides a reliable indicator of energy efficiency for major home appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, and furnaces. The federal agency works with appliance and equipment manufacturers to ensure that their products meet the label’s energy efficiency standards. All products that bear the Energy Star label have been tested and certified to meet the highest standards of energy efficiency.

The National Efficiency Mark

The National Efficiency Mark (NEM) is a certification label issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for many household appliances and home products. The label certifies that the product in question meets certain minimum requirements for energy efficiency. Products that carry the NEM label have generally been subjected to rigorous testing by a third-party laboratory to ensure they meet the EPA’s standards.

The CE Mark

The CE mark is an international quality certification mark that indicates a product has been tested and approved by the European Union. As of April 2021, the CE mark will be mandatory for any electrical appliance that falls under the scope of the European E-Marking Directive. If an appliance meets the directive’s requirements, it may display the CE mark.

The Most Efficient Label

The Most Efficient label is a special certification label issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for certain home appliances. The label is given to products that meet the criteria to be certified as the most efficient in terms of energy consumption and performance. Appliances that carry the label will usually be more efficient than their Energy Star-labeled counterparts.

The kW Rating

The kilowatt (kW) rating is an indication of how much power an appliance consumes in a given amount of time. Appliances that consume more power will typically have a higher kW rating. It’s important to note that the actual amount of energy that an appliance consumes will depend on how it is used.

The EER Rating

The Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) indicates the ratio of energy consumed by a product to the amount of energy it produces. The higher the EER rating, the more energy-efficient the product will be. This rating is found on air conditioners and certain other appliances.

The SEER Rating

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a rating given to air conditioners and heat pumps. It is a measure of the cooling efficiency of the unit over an entire cooling season. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the air conditioner or heat pump will be.

Outdoor Unit Ratings

When shopping for a new heating and cooling system, it’s important to understand the outdoor unit ratings too. The Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) rating is applicable to heating and cooling systems. The higher the EER rating, the more efficient the unit will be. Additionally, many newer air conditioning systems are given an Entire System Efficiency Rating (ESEER) that takes into account the efficiency of the entire system, including the indoor and outdoor units.


In conclusion, with so many energy efficiency certifications and ratings to consider, it can be difficult to find the perfect appliance or system for your home. However, with some research and understanding of the various certification labels and ratings available, you can make sure you’re making an informed purchasing decision. Navigating Energy Efficiency Certifications and Ratings will save you money in the long run!

What are the major energy efficiency certifications?

1. ENERGY STAR: ENERGY STAR is an international product certification program that recognizes energy-efficient products. It was created and is run by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

2. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design): LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, and indoor environmental quality.

3. HERS (Home Energy Rating System): HERS is a national rating system developed by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) to measure a home’s energy efficiency. It assigns a numerical score to a home, from 0 to 100, lower numbers representing greater efficiency.

4. Green Globes: The Green Globes is a web-based assessment and certification system that helps businesses quickly identify and prioritize energy efficiency and sustainability opportunities.

5. EPA WaterSense: WaterSense is a certification program that helps consumers identify and select products that use less water and perform as well or better than other models. It was created and is administered by the EPA.

What are the benefits of energy efficiency certifications?

1. Cost Savings: Energy efficiency certifications can help businesses reduce energy costs by identifying inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement.

2. Increased Marketability: Businesses that become certified can showcase their commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency, helping them stand out in the marketplace.

3. Regulatory Compliance: Many jurisdictions now require or encourage businesses to become certified in order to remain in compliance with local regulations.

4. Improved Technology: The certification process often requires businesses to assess and upgrade existing energy-conserving technology. This can result in improved efficiency and cost savings.

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