What’s the difference between appliance standards and ENERGY STAR?
ENERGY STAR is a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy- and water-efficient products. It is jointly run by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department of Energy (DOE). The appliance standards program, housed in DOE, sets mandatory minimum energy efficiency standards on products manufactured and imported for sale into the US. The two programs complement one another: ENERGY STAR paves the way for standards by demonstrating that high efficiency products are indeed feasible to manufacture and sell. The market information feeds into standards decisions, often resulting in a standard being set at or near the ENERGY STAR levels. Both ENERGY STAR and standards are periodically updated, moving efficiency levels up in a step-like progression.
How are standards enforced?
Though Congress originally granted DOE the authority to enforce standards in 1975, efficiency standards were not actively enforced for many years. In 2011, DOE published a final rule which focuses on revisions to certification and enforcement provisions. It requires manufacturers to submit compliance statements and certification reports to DOE and outlines enforcement actions for improper certification or noncompliance with an applicable standard. DOE did not take action on verification testing (where products would be tested at independent laboratories in order to verify that they meet conservation standards).