Under Donald Trump’s proposed budget, the popular Energy Star program, which has saved consumers $362 billion, will lose its funding.
The voluntary program certifies appliances, lighting, electronics, and buildings that meet certain efficiency baselines that then help consumers save money on utility bills, and is one of 50 administered by the EPA set for elimination under the new administration’s budget proposal.
But data suggests the Energy Star program is popular with consumers and businesses and good for the environment. In a recent survey by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, the label had an 87 percent public awareness as a symbol of energy efficiency. It has 16,000 partners that include manufacturers, retailers, schools, and builders, and 35 percent of Fortune 500 companies have partnered with Energy Star to improve their energy performance. In all, the EPA reports, the standards have saved consumers $362 billion in utility bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 billion metric tons since its creation in 1992.
It makes little sense to eliminate a program that has demonstrable benefits for the economy with fairly low cost to taxpayers, says Dr. Gale Boyd, a Duke University economics professor who has studied energy efficiency in the industrial sector for over 25 years.
“It seems short-sighted at best to eliminate a program like this,” Boyd said.
Boyd works with industrial plants to help develop benchmarking tools for the Energy Star program, using information that might be proprietary or otherwise not readily available to the companies to help them gauge their energy performance.
“If we’re interested in revitalizing the manufacturing sector, there may be lots of ways to do that, but having companies become more profitable by being more energy-efficient, I think, is a smart strategy,” Boyd said, since using less energy can save in business costs and potentially save jobs.
Other certification programs that attempt to replace Energy Star may not be as successful without the credibility of the EPA’s backing, Boyd said.
“Energy efficiency is an activity that can be job creating. It’s applying people’s skills, engineering, and talent to solve problems and to do them in a way that’s cost-effective and profitable. I think those are jobs that we should be supporting,” he said.