What is an Energy Star rating and how can it save you money?

Energy star rating sticker
Energy star rating sticker (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’re shopping for one of the best washing machines, best dishwashers or any other domestic appliance, you’ll need to look out for the Energy Star rating. And while we often come across these Energy Star rating stickers on appliances, not many know what this actually means.

In addition, the soaring costs of living means that we are all finding clever ways to save money. Whether it be looking at 11 easy household tips to help you save money and fight inflation or tips to save on energy bills, Energy Star ratings can make a huge impact on your household bills. So before you buy your brand new appliance, read our useful guide to find out what an Energy Star rating is and how it can save you money. 

What is an Energy Star rating?

Essentially, an Energy Star rating is a certification of energy efficiency. Such ratings indicate that a product meets strict federally mandated guidelines carried out from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In order to pass, products need to go through rigorous testing before they are approved to meet the energy efficiency criteria. 

In addition to appliances, this seal of approval can be earned by commercial plants and buildings. 

Typically, appliances that carry the Energy Star rating are 10% to 20% more energy efficient than non-rated models. You’ll usually find an Energy Star rating on most large appliances such as air conditioners, air purifiers, washing machines and refrigerators. If you wanted to be more energy-efficient, check out one of the best smart air conditioners for your home.

Salesman showing inside of fridge to woman in store

Salesman showing inside of fridge to woman in store (Image credit: Shutterstock)

What makes a product Energy Star approved?

With so many appliances on the market, it can be tricky to know which model uses less energy. So how does a product qualify for a star rating? In short, the guidelines are high performance, functionality and significant reductions in energy.

According to the Energy Star website, products like refrigerators would need to be at least 15% more efficient than the minimum federal efficiency standard. Televisions would need to consume 3 watts or less when switched off, in comparison to the 6 watts on a standard television, and any tech equipment would enter a low-power "sleep" mode after a period of not using.

What is the Energy Guide label?

Alongside looking out for the Energy Star rating on products, be sure to look for the Energy Guide label. This often comes with new large appliances and offers consumers more insight into that model’s estimated annual energy use under average conditions. 

Energy guide ratings for appliances will show typical usage under average conditions, in kilowatt-hours (kWhs) per year. The lower the energy number, the more cost-efficient an appliance is to use, which will save you more money on your energy bills. 

It’s worth noting that energy consumption of any appliance will vary per household. Still, the Energy Guide is a good way to compare usage costs before you buy a certain model. 

How can Energy Star ratings save you money?

Energy Star certified appliances can significantly cut down energy consumption, which equates to lower utility bills. In fact, according to the US Department of Energy, certified appliances can reduce energy usage between 10% to 50% in an average household.

For instance, Energy Star-rated dryers can dry clothes much faster compared to standard models, while washing machines can reduce water consumption. This means households can get through several loads of laundry a week without the worry of using a lot of energy. (If you want to be more energy efficient, this is the cheapest time to do your laundry.) In addition, such appliances will cause less harmful emissions from power plants, so you’re doing your part for the environment.

According to the Energy Star website, an average of 800,000 Energy Star certified products were sold every day in 2020. That means that more households are on a mission to save money and time.

Washing machine

Washing machine (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you want more money-saving tips check out, 9 tips to make your food last longer and 15 water saving tips, to reduce your usage. Also, these are 5 ways your smart home can save you money.   

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!