Harnessing Energy Data to Help Your Pocketbook and the Planet

How do Americans save money and protect the environment at the same time?

Millions of us gain those benefits when we decide to buy ENERGY STAR qualified products. In 2011 alone, Americans purchased about 280 million products with the ENERGY STAR label. Those qualified products – including appliances, heating and cooling equipment, consumer electronics, office equipment, lighting fixtures, and more – offer consumers energy savings of 10 to 65% relative to standard models, depending upon product type.

Today, more than 80% of the American public recognizes the ENERGY STAR label, and many Americans look for the label when they buy products that use energy.

Now, with the launch of the Energy Data Initiative, the Obama administration is emphasizing the role of government data as fuel for innovation, including data about which consumer and business products are earning the ENERGY STAR qualified productlabel. Entrepreneurs can take these datasets, now available on the Energy Community of Data.gov – Energy.Data.gov – and use detailed energy performance data in new apps that help consumers shop and make more informed choices.

Beyond searching for products with the ENERGY STAR label, ENERGY STAR data can be used in apps to help estimate and compare projected energy costs for products. So, using their smartphones or home computers, Americans can make choices that are good for their pocketbooks and the planet. For example, an ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washer can save a consumer approximately $315 in energy costs over the washer’s lifetime, compared to non-ENERGY STAR models. Search for qualified products at http://go.usa.gov/G4i.

ENERGY STAR data can also help homeowners find ways to reduce their energy costs by increasing their homes’ energy efficiency. And businesses can participate in ENERGY STAR programs to increase the energy efficiency of commercial buildings. The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool allows businesses to track and assess energy and water consumption across a portfolio of buildings and benchmark performance.Driven by ENERGY STAR information and data, millions of American consumers and many businesses and organizations have taken action. Their investments in energy efficiency are transforming the market for efficient products and practices, creating jobs, and stimulating the economy.

Working together in the coming years and harnessing the power of data and innovative apps, we can accelerate energy efficiency improvements at home, at work, and in our communities and continue to make positive impacts on human health and the environment.

Kathleen Vokes is an Environmental Engineer in EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program in the Office of Air and Radiation. Steve Young is a Senior Advisor in EPA’s Office of Environmental Information

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