Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, they change. That’s what’s happening with energy ratings. If you’ve shopped for or bought any appliances in the past 20 years, you’ve couldn’t miss the familiar blue EnergyStar sticker on most appliances. You’ve seen it on almost everything electronic, from dishwashers to televisions. You learned from that bright yellow Energy Guide label the amount of energy an appliance consumed and its yearly savings.
The good news is that most appliance manufacturers have now learned that consumers want more energy-efficient products. The bad news is that today, so many products meet or exceed EnergyStar standards it’s hard to know how to choose among them.
That’s why the Consortium for Energy Efficiency has come up with a tiered system. The CEE is a group of manufacturers and utilities, including Clark Public Utilities, focusing on improving energy conservation by defining ever more ambitious energy standards for most appliances.
“The CEE tiered ratings will make it easier for shoppers to identify models that use the very least amount of energy and will cost the least to run over the years,” said DuWayne Dunham, energy services supervisor at Clark Public Utilities. “If you’ve shopped for appliances and compared energy usage in the last few years, you’ve seen that EnergyStar ratings can encompass a pretty wide range of costs to operate.”
These tiers don’t replace EnergyStar ratings. The blue stickers are not going away. In fact, the agencies work separately to make sure more energy-efficient appliances come to market, which is why Energy Star and CEE ratings overlap. To see how Energy Star and CEE work in parallel, visit www.cee1.org/content/cee-tiers-and-energy-star.
Unlike Energy Star, CEE doesn’t offer energy-efficiency rebate programs for consumers. And it doesn’t place labels on appliances. Instead, CEE works with manufacturers at the research and development stage to create or improve energy-efficient technologies. Once the designs are developed, it helps create awareness for the new energy-efficient products.
One of the CEE initiatives is the Super Efficient Home Appliance Initiative that defines specifications for super efficiency according to its three levels of energy-efficient performance. An appliance manufacturer can choose to meet any of these for washers, refrigerators, dishwashers and air conditioners.
Many EnergyStar refrigerators fall in CEE tier one in terms of energy savings. CEE tags appliances in tiers two and three as super-efficient energy savers. For clothes washers, EnergyStar-qualified washing machines also fall into tier one. Clothes washers in tiers two and three have both higher energy- and water-saving ratings. CEE doesn’t test these products, but instead validates the energy efficiency of appliance designs for electrical and water usage.
Clark Public Utilities offers rebates on qualifying appliances purchased from a participating local retailer. If you’re considering a new appliance go to the utility’s website (www.clarkpublicutilities.com) find “Your Home” and click on “Energy Conservation” and then “Rebates.” There you will find the list of product categories qualifying for 2014 rebates and the rebate amount, as well as a link to qualified retailers offering these appliances.
“Shopping for appliances can be confusing. We’re hoping we can make it easier for our customers to find the most energy-efficient appliances they can afford,” Dunham said. “CEE tiers make it easier for customers to narrow down choices to the appliances that will cost the very least to run throughout their lifecycle.”
Energy adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to email@example.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.