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The End of the Energy Star Program

How do you find eco-friendly appliances?  Easy: just look for the blue and white Energy Star sticker.

But look fast, because the Energy Star program could come to an end in President Trump’s upcoming budget.

If you’ve ever shopped for a new appliance, you’re probably familiar with Energy Star. But you may not have realized that Energy Star is actually a program under the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Energy Star started back in the year 1992. It was originally launched to rate the efficiency of computer monitors (if you’re using one now, take glance at the bottom-right corner — you’ll probably find a sticker). Since then, the program has expanded to cover everything from dishwashers to electronics and even entire homes.

The EPA’s Energy Star standards are completely voluntary. So why do manufacturers choose to comply with the standards? It’s because they want to use the Energy Star label and market the product as Energy Star-approved. Energy Star products catch the eyes of eco-friendly consumers, leading to higher sales and bigger earnings. In short, Energy Star makes sustainability good for business.

This is an example of what’s called voluntary regulation — encouraging businesses to adopt sustainable practices beyond the regulatory requirements.

Now, Energy Star is one of 50 EPA programs that would be cut under President Trump’s budget.

Energy Star costs the United States government $50 million each year. In turn, it saves American consumers and businesses $34 billion and prevents more than $300 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Some commentators speculate that the latter benefit is exactly the reason Trump wants Energy Star gone. They point to other proposed budget cuts, like the Clean Power Plan and fuel economy standards on cars, which are also meant to reduce emissions and combat climate change. The President expressed skepticism of climate change during the 2016 campaign.

Energy Star is widely regarded as a success. It has been a win-win for businesses, consumers, and of course the environment for 25 years. For now, we can only hope this energy efficiency program survives the upcoming budget.