Stories & Features

There's more to ENERGY STAR® than bulbs and appliances

Image of Vanessa Lo
BC Hydro community team member Vanessa Lo is a big fan of ENERGY STAR, which can help you save energy and money with a wide variety of energy-efficient products.

A look at how ENERGY STAR can save you energy and money

Vanessa Lo
For bchydro.com

When shopping for a new TV, light bulb, or refrigerator, many of us already look for the ENERGY STAR symbol to identify models in the top tier of energy efficiency. It's a slam dunk when a single ENERGY STAR LED bulb can save you $90 on your energy bills over 10 years.

Yet, even the most conservation-savvy Team Power Smart member may be pleasantly surprised by the extensive range of products that the ENERGY STAR certification encompasses today. Did you know there are ENERGY STAR printers, dehumidifiers and even homes?

Backed by Natural Resources Canada, the ENERGY STAR program makes it easy to identify energy-efficient products and practices that offer savings on our electricity bills without sacrificing performance, features, or comfort. Following strict technical specifications, the ENERGY STAR symbol signifies that the product has been tested and certified by a government-approved agency in the top 15% to 30% of its class for energy performance.

In our recent Team Power Smart member poll, we asked participants to guess which device or product is not available in any ENERGY STAR-certified model. While votes poured in for cordless phones (45%), printers (17%), and dehumidifiers (5%), those three items are all available in ENERGY STAR. The only item on the list you can't get as ENERGY STAR-certified is the space heater, and 18% of those polls got that right.

Here's a list of things that include ENERGY STAR models:

ENERGY STAR savings add up: One sample scenario

When you estimate savings from a switch to one ENERGY STAR product, it can be underwhelming. But we often forget just how many devices we have in the home. So here's a look at how upgrading multiple products can add up to big savings.

Using our online cost calculator, we figured out what 10 years of energy savings might be with an ENERGY STAR switch to the following: Washer/dryer, dishwasher, fridge, three LEDs, five pot lights, room air conditioner, three laptops, two TVs and a PVR. Add it all up and – with typical usage – you're looking at energy savings of more than $1,500 over 10 years.

Among commercial products, the ENERGY STAR symbol can also be found on energy efficient ice machines, vending machines, ovens, fryers, data centre storage equipment, roofing materials, and commercial HVAC systems, for example. Check out the complete list of product categories and compare features on Natural Resources Canada's  ENERGY STAR website.

Looking for a new home? Look for ENERGY STAR there, too

New homes can also be awarded the trusted ENERGY STAR certification, and since 2005, more than 1,100 builders have incorporated the ENERGY STAR for New Homes Standard into their practices.

To earn the certification, a home must be built by a licensed ENERGY STAR builder to be, on average, 20% more energy efficiency than similar-sized homes built to the B.C. Building Code. This translates into less energy needed to operate your home, and monthly savings on your electricity bill.

Typical features of certified homes, which include new detached, attached, and low-rise multi-unit residential buildings include:

  • Efficient heating and cooling systems that use less energy, reduce indoor humidity, and improve the overall comfort of your home
  • Walls and ceilings that are insulated beyond what's required by the B.C. Building Code
  • ENERGY STAR windows, patio doors, and skylights that keep the heat in during the winter and out during the summer
  • A variety of ENERGY STAR products that achieve at least 400 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electrical savings
  • A heat or energy recovery ventilation system (HRV or ERV), which ensures that your home has controlled ventilation and filters the intake air to remove common allergens

By upholding higher standards for insulation and controlled ventilation, energy efficient homes are known for being more comfortable, with more even temperatures, less noise, and less dust than in comparable homes. And while not every home is ENERGY STAR certified, homes both new and old are eligible for an EnerGuide evaluation and rating to help you make well-informed decisions when operating, renovating, or purchasing a home.

The EnerGuide label, which can be found on the home's electrical panel, demonstrates the energy performance of a home. It provides an estimate of the net amount of energy a home consumes in a year, calculated using standard operating conditions that ensure the rating focuses on the house, rather than its occupants' behaviour. This makes it easier to use the rating to compare the energy usage of one house to another.

Vanessa Lo is a member of BC Hydro's community team.