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The Reliability of Energy Guide Labels

January 13, 2017

Customized labels are meant to make everyone’s lives easier—companies, consumers, clients—you name it. However, an article published by CBS Philly shows that the usefulness of product labels may vary depending on the product’s industry. For example, labels are crucial in the food industry since they assist people with food restrictions and special diets. Additionally, food labels help to show customers which products are organic, non-organic, and genetically modified.

But when it comes to the energy industry—product labels may only be as educational as the consumer is knowledgeable. Let us explain.

Do All Appliances Use Energy Labels?

When consumers shop for new appliances, they’re often attracted to the bright yellow EnergyGuide labels that point out the average electricity prices of each product. However, not all appliances use EnergyGuide labels. Generally, only the following appliances come with EnergyGuide labels: clothes washers, dishwashers, boilers, central air conditioners, water heaters, furnaces, freezers, refrigerators, heat pumps, window air conditions, pool heaters, and televisions.

Appliances that don’t come with yellow EnergyGuide labels are dehumidifiers, humidifiers, ovens, ranges, and clothes dryers.

How Accurate are EnergyGuide Labels?

While these customized labels are meant to be useful to consumers purchasing new appliances, they are not always accurate. But why, exactly? Because most shoppers don’t know how much they currently spend on their electrical products, so they don’t know what they’re looking for or how the product compares to what they currently have.

So, while consumers may think they’re spotting a great deal on a bright yellow label, they may have no idea how it compares to their current electricity costs.

What Should a Customer Do?

Consumers ought to know a few pieces of information about customized labels before shopping for a new appliance product. Especially if they typically rely on yellow energy labels to guide them through the buying process.

You see, yellow EnergyGuide labels only provide an estimated operational cost based on the national average. And being that the cost is a national average, it could vary quite a bit depending on the type of climate you live in. If you live in an area where you’re always relying on the furnace or air conditioning unit, your average could be a far stretch from climates who rely on natural energy sources the majority of the time. Plus, these labels are only updated about every five years.

How to Read Energy Labels

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are a few important tips to reading an EnergyGuide label more easily:

·        Consumers can find key facts about the appliance on the upper left hand corner of the product label.

·        Customers can learn more about the product’s make, model, and size on the upper right hand corner of the label.

·        The large number displayed in the center of the label is the national average cost of running the appliance for a year. This number is meant to help you compare the energy cost to other products.

·        Below this number, consumers can view a cost range that helps them compare the appliance to the energy costs of other appliance models.

·        The large number listed toward the bottom of the label is an estimate of how much electricity the appliance will use in one year, compared to national averages. To get an idea of how much the cost of this appliance will compare to your current appliance costs, multiply this number by the local electricity rate included on your utility bill.

·        Additionally, yellow labels with an Energy Star logo mean that the product is more environmentally-friendly. 

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