Making smarter choices when it comes to your energy use can help you run your business more efficiently and can have a big impact on your small business. One way to do that is by looking for the blue ENERGY STAR label when selecting new pieces of equipment or building your business from the ground up. ENERGY STAR is designed to help small businesses and consumers get a better understanding about the energy consumption of the products they use and the buildings they operate.
We take a deeper dive into what ENERGY STAR is and breakdown if it’s valuable for your small business.
What is ENERGY STAR?
ENERGY STAR is a voluntary program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It works to help small businesses and consumers save money and protect the climate by focusing on energy efficiency.
The 25-year-old comprehensive program identifies, certifies and promotes energy efficiency by calculating the average annual energy use of a product.
You’ve likely seen the blue-and-white ENERGY STAR label. It’s on products in more than 70 categories that you may use in your business — everything from computers and telephones to vending machines and water coolers.
The ENERGY STAR label has become a trusted mark of quality for consumers and businesses across the country to help them make informed energy-efficient choices.
But the program could be in trouble. According to a recent news report , the proposed 2018 federal spending plan would eliminate the program altogether. In May, more than 1,000 organizations and businesses that participate in the program petitioned Congress  to continue the program.
“We applaud ENERGY STAR,” Jon Bostock, a former manager in General Electric’s appliance unit, who knows the ENERGY STAR program well, said . “It has pushed brands. It’s driven a ton of innovation. It’s provided value for the customer.”
What Does ENERGY STAR Certification Mean?
ENERGY STAR-certified products are supposed to be more efficient than non-certified products.
The main difference is that ENERGY STAR products meet strict energy performance standards set by the EPA. They use less energy, are less expensive to operate and cause less greenhouse gas emissions than their competitors, according to  the ENERGY STAR website.
While the efficiency standards may change from time to time, the agency strives to maintain them at a level where the top 25 percent of energy efficiency products qualify for the blue-and-white ENERGY STAR label.
The ENERGY STAR program also certifies commercial office buildings and industrial plants. For a commercial building to be eligible for certification, it must earn an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or higher, meaning that it is more energy efficient than at least 75 percent of similar buildings nationwide.
Since the program was established in 1992, it has certified countless products across America and tens of thousands of buildings have earned the ENERGY STAR label for superior energy performance.
Is It Worth It for Small Businesses to Invest in ENERGY STAR Products?
In principle, when you see the blue ENERGY STAR label on appliances, electronics, light bulbs, and other products, it means you’ll likely save energy and money without any sacrifices in performance.
The EPA says ENERGY STAR, which costs less than $60 million a year to operate, saved businesses and consumers $31 billion a year on their energy bills, per its most recent annual report .
Since ENERGY STAR is voluntary, businesses are not required to participate, and consumers are not obligated to buy certified products.
“This is a program that’s working,” said Lowell Ungar, senior policy advisor at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a Washington-based nonprofit. “People, almost universally, know what it is. They trust the brand. The retailers love it because it enables them to market better products.”
Image: Energy Star