Energy Star Continues to Evolve

Tue, 2012-07-24 11:58

I recently noticed an Energy Star logo on a promotional brochure for a product that does not actually use energy. The product being advertised was an insulating additive for paint that claimed to help keep homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The product further claimed to be a scientifically proven, environmentally friendly way to reduce energy costs by 20% or more. I wondered what requirements such a product must meet in order to earn an Energy Star Rating if its energy use can’t be measured and rated asEnergy Star Seal and Insulate Label an appliance or a home would be. It sounded too good to be true, but the Energy Star logo, if being used legitimately, added a degree of credibility. I sent an inquiry to the logo misuse email address on Energy Star’s website and got a response the next day.

Here’s what I found out:

Seal and Insulate products cannot obtain the Energy Star label in the same way other products can because they don’t use energy. However, the EPA has developed a special mark for these insulation products.

According to Stephen Gunther, who answered my email on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Manufacturers of products that clearly contribute to the improvement of the home envelope as recommended by EPA’s Energy Star Program, can sign a partnership agreement with Energy Star. Their products must be tested by an EPA-recognized third-party certification body in order to be granted access to the ‘Seal and Insulate with Energy Star’ logo.”

Changes to the Seal and Insulate program were made as recently as May 23, 2012, requiring additional paperwork to remain a partner. Although the paint additive manufacturer was a partner before the program changes, more research on the part of the EPA is required to determine if they still had an active agreement. If an agreement was in place, the product would be approved to carry the Seal and Insulate with Energy Star logo, not the basic Energy Star logo that was currently being used on the brochure.

The EPA keeps a watchful eye over Energy Star and the use of the labels. But the program is a work in progress that is constantly evolving. It’s clearly important for consumers and product manufacturers alike to be diligent, ask questions, and educate themselves in order to understand and maintain the standards of the program. In the case of the paint additive, I am still waiting for more information from the EPA, but it’s encouraging that there is a program in place to distinguish the value of sealing and insulation products.

To learn more about the Energy Star Program and improving the energy efficiency of a home, check out Everblue’s Energy Star V3 Training, RESNET HERS Rater Training, and BPI Energy Auditor Certification.

By Amy Malloy

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