How to Shop for the Right Energy Star Appliances for Your Home

Merlisa Lawrence Corbett
Updated December 28, 2021
Traditional luxury kitchen with big island
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Make sense of energy star appliance labels so you can start saving money

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The blue and white Energy Star label has been around since 1992. We see it, read it and sometimes make appliance purchases based on it. But you may ask yourself: What does an Energy Star label mean on appliances? 

Here’s a guide on what to know about the Energy Star label, and how to shop for the appliances. 

What Is the Energy Star Label?

The Energy Star label is based on a government-backed rating system that helps consumers identify energy-efficient products that save money and help the environment. The U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collects information from unbiased studies to determine which products should be Energy Star certified.

According to, “products that earn the ENERGY STAR label are independently certified to meet strict standards for energy efficiency set by the EPA.”  

So if you are energy conscious and wish to save money while doing your part to impact climate change, the federal government has done all the heavy lifting for you. 

Still, the Energy Star label is not the only energy-efficient guide posted on appliances. With everything from manufacturer labels to store promotions plastered on appliances, sometimes it is difficult to determine gimmick versus actual energy savings. 

What Should I Consider Before Purchasing Energy Star Appliances?

When you're buying a new appliance, remember that the cost of owning it has three components: 

  • The initial purchase price

  • The cost of repairs and maintenance

  • The cost to operate it. 

Unfortunately, the lowest sales price is not always the least expensive in the long run. Most people keep major appliances for ten or more years. So the energy savings over those years can more than make up for the lower price.

What Is the Difference Between EnergyGuide and Energy Star Labels?

New oven in home appliance store
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Whether you’re looking to buy an Energy Star washing machine, stove or refrigerator, you will want to keep an eye out for that iconic blue logo with the word “energy” accented with a white star under a rainbow-shaped white line.  

Energy Star, however, is sometimes confused with EnergyGuide, which is a separate label managed by a different organization. An EnergyGuide label does not mean the appliance is an Energy Star appliance.

What to Know About EnergyGuide

The yellow-and-black EnergyGuide label displayed on most appliances is based on the Federal Trade Commission's Appliance Labeling Rules. It tells you how much energy per unit the appliance uses, and is required on the following appliances, regardless of their energy efficiency::

  • Refrigerators

  • Freezers

  • Dishwashers

  • Clothes washers

  • Water heaters

  • Furnaces

  • Boilers

  • Central air conditioners

  • Room air conditioners

  • Heat pumps

  • Pool heaters.. 

The EnergyGuide label will outline:

  • The model’s annual energy consumption

  • The energy efficiency rating

  • The range of estimated annual energy consumption

You should compare and contrast EnergyGuide labels on appliances and consider both purchase price and estimated energy use when deciding which to buy.

If an appliance also features the blue Energy Star logo, the appliance is significantly more energy-efficient than the average comparable model.

What Makes Energy Star Appliances Different?

  • The differences are on the inside of the appliance. The motors, compressors, and pumps make the appliance smarter. So, even if two appliances look the same outside, only the one with the Energy Star sticker is certified energy efficient.

  • The Federal government and some state and local governments offer rebates to consumers who purchase Energy Star appliances. 

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